The World's Plaidiest News Source
Alright, alright, alright already! Greetings global watchers. Plaid Avenger here, helping to kick off another semester of non-stop interpretation and interpolation of events that cause all sorts of global consternation. I’m sobering up and getting back in the saddle to be your World Regions super-correspondent from all points abroad…as opposed to being on all points on a broad! Wow! I’m back in fine form already! That should surely offend some of you folks…
But you know what offends people even more than my scurrilous and scandalous shenanigans? Well, the forced starvation of 1.5 million people of course! I’ve heard that you all are inquiring about some action going down on the Egyptian/Gaza border, and you need some help figuring it all out. It’s a big freakin’ mess to be sure, but check out just a smattering of today’s events to get a taste of the shit d’jour:
Egypt Tries to Close Gaza Border, But Fails
Hamas accepts Egypt invitation to meet Fatah
Humanitarian crisis? In Gaza?
Israel cuts off Gaza’s electricity
Security Council fails yet again to agree Gaza statement
What the living hell is going on in this place? I’m glad you asked. As of right this second, the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip is being ignored by the Fatah-controlled West Bank, and it is also being trade embargoed by Jewish-controlled Israel….meaning there is a big ass wall around the entire place, and all exits have been sealed off. No one goes in, no one comes out. But the folks in Gaza kind of got tired of starving to death so they blew a big ass hole in the wall on the Egyptian side, and shit tons of people have been flooding into Egypt in order to buy supplies…or to simply escape. Most of the world, as well as the entire UN Security Council (minus the US), are berating Israel for starving out the Gazan residents. Meanwhile, he US and Israel are berating Egypt for letting the starving people escape. Got all that? Good.
What’s that? You don’t understand that last paragraph? Well who the hell in America would? People working in the freakin White House can’t seem to figure out this situation either, and they get paid to do that stuff! And it is much too complicated an issue to cover in a single blog, so let’s revisit some reports I filed last summer concerning the background of this godforsaken mess of a place that continues to be the center of conflict in the Middle East, and the greater world.
Are you ready for that? Alright then, well do a five-part series to lay the foundation of understanding so you will know why these people blew a fucking hole in a wall to escape to Egypt…and why your government is working hard to fill that hole back up.
Day 1: Intro to the Insanity: Let’s talk Territory
Day 2: Who the hell is Hamas?
Day 3: What the freak is Fatah?
Day 4: World Opinion: Fatah Friends & Hamas Haters
Day 5: Back to the beginning, why the Egyptian Escape?
By the end of this 5-part Egyptian Escape series, you should be able to identify all of the following entities: Palestine, Israel, Fatah, Hamas, the Gaza Strip, the West Bank, the UN Security Council, and my favorite type of martini. But you will have to be really good to figure out that last one…
Let’s get it fired up! Let’s talk territory tomorrow…but first, a tipple or two…
Greetings friends! And damn did I get seriously sidetracked on the way to Siberia! Sorry for the extended blog departure, but I had an unexpected mission come up which involved 16 vestal virgins, 10 cases of Jägermeister, a cache of AK-47’s, a warm pretzel eating contest, and Angela Merkel. I know: it sounds complicated, and I cannot divest any of the details at the present time…mostly because I can’t remember many of them. But I’m back in fine form once again, and I woke up woozy in Uzbekistan just in time to tap into a tipple here in Tashkent….and catch the end of the SCO meeting. A meeting which continued to reaffirm my belief that Russia and China are becoming the best-est of buddies, much to the chagrin of ‘the West.’ Dig it:
Russian lovefest to the East…
Russian, Chinese PMs meet Central Asian allies
Premiers of SCO vow to enhance cooperation
Chinese premier: China-Russia relations at most important stage
Russian deputy PM hails Russian-Chinese theme years
Russian dissing to the West…
U.S. pushes to get Russia on its side
US disappointed in China, Russia response on Iran sanctions
Russia-EU Summit: A Nice Gathering with Few Results
Have a glass of vodka with your Moo Goo Gai Pan. Or a caviar filled egg-roll. ‘Cause that is the international cuisine paring of the future man! So what’s this all about? Well, in a nutshell, Russia and China are grooving to a mutual lovefest which is resulting in an undeclared new axis of power in the world….one that has serious repercussions for ‘Team West.’ All I know is, someone is going to lose their virginity on this one….and it is likely to be the US that gets screwed. Now before any of you start digging the hole for the underground bunker in your backyard in preparations for World War 3….just relax and hold on a minute. I’m not talking about open armed conflict, or even a return to a Cold War scenario. It’s much more subtle and simple than that. It’s more like this:
Russia and China‘s new and strengthening alignment will be a source of friction and frustration for most US foreign policy in the coming decade. And beyond. One needs only look as far as the current story above which references Russia and China‘s open willingness to block any US proposals on sanctions of Iran at the UN Permanent Security Council. But I am perhaps getting ahead of myself as usual…how did we get to this point?
Way back in 1991 when the USSR officially collapsed and ceased to exist, Russia was a complete basketcase of a country politically, economically, socially, and psychologically. They were losers with a capital LOSE. Communism had failed, they had lost the Cold War of ideology, they were bankrupt, and completely lost in the sauce on how to go forward. Throughout the 1990’s, Russia was the scene of a veritable ‘wild west’ of capitalism and democratic transition—meaning that there were no rules, largely unregulated privatization, and no boundaries for how the country underwent this massive transition from commie to capitalist/democratic.
The US and ‘Team West’ did try to help out as best as they could….while still maintaining their strategic edge (meaning they helped out as long as the relationship still tilted in their direction.) Team West encouraged privatization and opening markets as the ‘tough love’ route that had to be taken for Russia to go forward. While democracy did get advanced in this era, the market capitalism transition left most in the gutter with a bad taste in their mouth—a situation usually reserved for cheap vodka consumption on Friday nights. By 2000, the place was still awash in corruption, organized crime, endemic poverty, and a sense of national hopelessness that relegated the state to the history books.
By my how times change. Enter two factors into this Russian equation: Putin and petroleum. Vlad ‘the Man’ took over in 2000, roughly the exact same that oil prices began to rise…and they have been steadily rising ever since! Putin’s strong-arm tactics to clamp down on crime and chaos in the markets, coupled with his strong sense of nationalism, have given the Russian’s a source of pride that they haven’t known since the Sputnik satellite launch. And since Russia controls shit-tons of oil and natural gas, they have been getting exceptionally rich in the last seven years too. Sum up these factors and you get this: Russia is back, bee-yatch!
Massive sales of oil and natural gas have allowed the Ruskies to pay off their national debt. Like all of it. They don’t owe anybody a damn dime. Putin has also been very savvy about socking away a lot of that oil wealth for a rainy day. And he has been storing it legally in banks for future use of the state, as opposed to storing it in his private bank account, which of course is the type of corruption that happens all the time in lesser developed places with less of a sense of national pride. I’m telling you, this national pride shit has a lot to do with the current Russian success story…and Putin’s whack-crazy approval ratings too, which hover in the 80 to 90% range. Damn! G.W. would give his left nut for an 80% approval rating! But I digress…
Back to the stories above: The US and Team West have been assuming since 1991 that Russia would eventually join their team. I mean, their teams have so much in common already in terms of culture, religion, international business, technology and history. And Team West has been actively courting the Russians to side up with the West in terms of the war on terrorism, UN security council resolutions, perhaps even EU membership…and I even remember a time when NATO membership for Russia was a serious talking point.
But a funny thing happened on Russia‘s way to joining Team West: they got their Russian groove back. They got an economy back. They got a nationalistic pride back. And most importantly, they have their sense of being a world power back. Oops. Looks like Russia is forming their own team again, as opposed to joining Team West. And that is exactly what I’m writing about today. Russia has turned east to embrace China. And embrace its former Central Asian possession of the –stan countries, and yes, even embrace Iran. The East is (at least for the time being) Russia‘s focus for the future.
As the US and Western Europe continue to attempt to sweet talk the Russians, they are doing so with increasingly less and less bait to attract their former Cold War adversaries. And Russia is increasingly holding all the aces in this poker match. And Russia knows it. Thus, they are playing their hands on foreign policy from a position of power. The Ruskies are now in a position to play off all the other powers at their own whim, seeking out the most advantageous situations for themselves, with extremely limited repercussions from the US, Team West, or really anybody else. Meaning, they simply cannot lose anymore. What do I mean they can’t lose?
Well, let’s summarize on just a few of the points mentioned in the stories above:
Economically, if we go no further than to consider the role of oil and natural gas, then Russia is in the catbird’s seat for at least another decade…or ten. Russia supplies at least 1/3 of Europe‘s energy needs. That’s Western and Eastern Europe. And it’s not just about the money being made either: tremendous political power has now been bestowed on Russia since those European powers get so much of their energy from the Bear. Translation: if you piss off Russia, you may get your heating oil turned off…in January. Think I’m making this shit up? Ask Belarus and Poland how fictional that story is. Then ask them how cold it gets in January.
But wait! Its not just Europe. China is energy hungry too, and the Russians are now establishing all kinds of relationships to transport more oil and natural gas then ever to their new Chinese friends. As China continues to explode economically, Russia will continue to get rich exponentially since they will be supplying the energy for this growth. Whoops! I almost forgot Japan! Japan wants as much Russian oil as it can get too, so there will never be any shortage of demand for Ruskies petroleum products in the East. Which means of course that Russia can play both sides of the continent against each other to jack up demand…and prices!
For now, the Chinese are winning this petroleum pissing match, as the Russians continue to forge new ties, build new pipelines, and sign new contracts with their eastern friends…but openly dissed the meeting with EU countries last week as ‘a waste of time.’
Strategically, Russia has also been busy strengthening its hand in the SCO. Big time. Don’t know your SCO? Better dig this then: You Gotsta’ Know the SCO!!! Within the SCO framework, China and Russia have basically been conducting an orgy of trade agreements, energy security agreements, economic and infrastructure projects and even military exercise co-ordination. They haven’t been doing any of that shit with Team West! And here’s why: as a member of the SCO, Russia is a leader. As a member of the EU or NATO, Russia is a follower. Got it? The Russians do, and they dig it.
Finally, politically the Russians and Chinese are in bed together like never before…mostly in the sense that they are now openly countering US foreign policies on the world stage. Putin’s position of power affords him the ability to completely piss off the West…‘cause he can always just chill with the Chinese chaps. This has come into play in current events in several ways:
1) Putin has been openly critical of the US plan to put a ‘missile shield’ in Eastern Europe. So critical in fact, that he is saying that this shield will cause another Cold War, and the Russians have pulled out of treaties which have limited the production of certain types of missiles. Putin has also overseen the resumption of old Cold War bomber patrols across Russian territory, as well as the creation and testing of a ‘super-bomb.’ He is causing such a ruckus over the planned missile defense systems, that he now almost literally has the US kissing his ass and begging him to allow the plan to go through. It is interesting to note that the two sites which will house this defense system are Poland and the Czech Republic: two countries which are heavily reliant on Russian fuel to get thru the long winter. Starting to get the picture here of how this shit is working?
2) Iran. Iran‘s continued foray into developing a nuclear industry (and perhaps a nuclear bomb) has pitted the Russian-Chinese axis against Team West. Putin has cozied up to Iran if for no other reason than to check-and checkmate with the US on foreign policy issues. Nobody really thinks that Putin has a lovefest with Iran, but he is in a position to counter any moves towards US sanctions or even an US invasion of Iran should it come down to that. Again, start to put the pieces of the puzzle together: if the US continues to make moves towards the missile defense shield…then Russia will strengthen its support for an Iranian nuke industry. If the US/Team West pisses off Russia about anything, then Russia will use its veto power on the UN Permanent Security Council to stop any international action dead in its tracks. Both Russia and China are now dropping hints that they are prepared to do just that.
3) The SCO is continuing to grow in functionality and membership. It is starting to look a lot like a combo NATO/EU of the east…with Russia as a real leader. And watch out for this big bombshell to be dropped in the near future: Russia is going to lead the formation of a natural gas cartel of Asia, with themselves in the center. Quote from SCO meeting on Friday: “Russia has also proposed the establishment of an “energy club” to complement the SCO regional security bloc, said Ivan Materov, Russian deputy minister of industry and energy.” The Plaid Avenger sez: Watch out OPEC, here comes ‘SCO’-PEC! Man! That will be some serious shit hitting the fan!
But enough speculation and assessment for now. Just know this: Russia is turning east to be a leader, and away from the west where it would be conscripted to be a follower. It’s not really surprising I suppose. I think its more the speed at which Russia has gone from being a zero to be a hero…or at least to being a major force in the world again. But all this talk of Russia has built my thirst and whetted my appetite. I think its time for a few dozen Oysters shooters, Moscow-style. What? Never had it? Dig:
Moscow Oyster Shooters, Plaid Avenger recipe:
- 3 dozen Pacific Oysters on the half-shell
- Add a small dollop of horseradish sauce in middle of oyster
- A teaspoon of Beluga caviar on top of dollop
- Pour over one shot of Stolichnaya Red Russian vodka
- Squeeze lemon wedge over entire batch
- Go to work
Oh hell yeah!
Hello hello hello again plaid party people! Too many good stories to choose from today…so let’s talk about them all! In a first for the Avenger, we will tie together a trifecta of titillating tidbits with the tantalizing tie between then being irritation. Pissed to be exact! It seems today is the day that most major powers on the planet decided to simultaneously piss in each other’s corn flakes! How hilarious! All in a day’s work I suppose, so let’s get to this summary…shall we?
Russia, Iran harden against West
Bush warns Putin over ‘World War Three’
For starters, one of the planet’s bad asses of all time Vlad ‘the man’ Putin of Russia decided to pay a visit to his homies down in Iran. Ha! Russia has homies? Not likely! Nonetheless, Putin was visiting with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad…and he even met with the grand poo-bah of Shia Iran: Ayatollah Khamenei! Wouldn’t you have loved to be a fly on the wall during that fascinating conversation? Yeah, me neither. Let’s recreate the dialogue:
Putin: Great to meet you, Supreme Leader of Iran…got any vodka to drink?
Ayatollah: Allah be praised, you Russian infidel. We don’t drink alcohol in my country.
Putin: Oh. Well, that’s okay. In my country most Muslims and foreigners in general are discriminated against. Hell, we’ve been blowing up Chechen Muslims for years.
Ayatollah: Hmmm… I see. Well, we don’t really have anything in common, do we?
Putin: Um…nope. Not really. Oh wait! Would you like me to show you some Judo?
Ayatollah: No. That would be gay. And we don’t have any gay people in my country either.
Putin:Oh. Um. Then I guess we don’t have much to talk about…
—Long, uncomfortable silence—
Ayatollah: Well, there is always pissing off the Americans….
Putin: Oh yeah! We are good at that! Let’s work together on that point …what did you have in mind?
Which brings us back to the topic at hand. Let’s get to the pissed part…After talking with President Ahmadinejad, Putin declared that Russia does not support the American assertion that Iran is trying to develop nuclear weapons. And in fact Russia believes that Iran only wants nuclear technology to produce energy, and Russia is going to help them do it. In addition, Russia has hinted that they are not going to allow any more stricter UN sanctions on Iran (remember, Russia is a veto-wielding member of the UN Security Council—they can stop any further sanctions on the spot), and have outright suggested that the US needs to stop its ‘saber-rattling’ tactics by threatening war. Damn! This is seriously pissing off the US!
On top of that, Russia and Iran just wrapped up a summit of ‘Caspian Sea nations’ in which they all signed a declaration which prohibits any other country on the planet from using their states for attacks on one another “under any circumstances”. Caspian summit a triumph for Iran You get that? Read between the lines: In other words, all those countries agree that they will not help the US, the EU, or even the UN launch an attack on Iran. These countries include Russia, Iran, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, and Azerbaijan (see map). Damn! They are outright telling the US and the world to piss off when it comes to any war on Iran! More rage for the US!
So President Bush is so pissed that he is suggesting that this may be a lead up to WW3! Ha! Dude! Chill out! There are a couple of things that someone should suggest to the Americans to calm them down:
1)Under the NPT (the UN Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty), developing nuclear technology for power creation is totally acceptable. Iran is a signatory to this treaty, so as long as they are playing by the rules, so should you. I know you don’t like it, but you are going to have to live with it
2)Let’s go ahead and run with the US assumption that Iran really only wants nuke technology to make a bomb. Let’s assume they make a bomb. Hell, let’s even assume they launch that bomb at Israel, since the Americans are fully convinced that this will happen. Why would the Iranians do this, since it totally assures that their country will become a smoldering, radioactive wasteland after the US and France and the UK retaliate with overwhelming force? Doesn’t make much sense. Does it?
To be fair to the US, that is an oversimplified analysis, and there other issues to be considered…namely the fear that an Iranian nuke bomb would spark a Middle Eastern arms race. Fair enough. That is a valid point. If Iran gets a nuke, then Saudi Arabia is going to want a nuke, and Syria will then want a nuke, etc. So if that is what you US guys truly believe, then why don’t you actually come out and say it? Enough with the ‘Iran is going to kill us all’ bullshit.
Apparently the US is even more pissed because they can’t do much about these Russia-Iranian developments right now. So the US decided to piss off someone else instead….
U.S. honor for Dalai Lama angers China
Bush dismisses Chinese criticism over Dalai Lama
In honoring the Dalai Lama, the US is seriously pissing off China. Don’t know why that is? Check out an earlier Plaid Avenger insight into China‘s fear of the Lama at Dalai Lama at Oktoberfest? Let’s Get Enlit! Now China is pissed at the US because anytime anybody even so much as meets with the Lama (much less give him a damn medal!), the Chinese interpret that as giving the Dalai too much ‘street cred’…and China’s ultimate fear is that if everyone in the world thinks the Dalai Lama is legit, then he will have the power to demand an independent Tibet. All I can say to the Chinese is: bullshit! That is never going to happen dudes, so lighten up on the monk! But China remains pissed for today either way….but they are not alone…
Turkey is also pissed at the US because of that proposed ‘recognition of the Armenian Genocide’ bill that made its way through a House committee last week. See Turkey is Steamed and Ready; but this ain’t no Thanksgiving for US I reported on that shit a few days back from the Turk-Iraq border, and the shit is heating up even more! While I was there, about 50,000-60,000 Turkish troops with a butt load of tanks and guns were amassing. They are about ready to get the party started. What party? The invasion of Iraq to track down some Kurdish terrorists.
Turks’ vote backs right to use force inside Iraq
Turkey votes to send troops into northen Iraq
And Turkey is still so pissed about that US committee vote, that they Turkish parliament went ahead and voted 507 to 19 to allow the armed forces to launch a cross-border assault against Kurdish insurgents based in northern Iraq. The 19 that voted ‘no’ were probably taken out back for a ass-whoopin’ shortly after the proceedings. Ordinarily, the US and Turkey are such strong allies that the US probably would have been able to talk them out of any aggressive actions in Iraq. But the Turks are simply pissed! Too pissed to listen to the Americans now…
And it goes without saying that the Iraqis are pissed about these Turkish developments…
Angry Iraqi Kurds say Turkish move would destabilise region
Iraq Kurds warn Turkey against ‘illegal’ incursion vote
Kurds ‘will fight Turkish raids’
Although Iraq is pretty much a basket case, and barely a functioning government, they have voiced their serious pissed-off-ness about the idea that Turkey may invade their ‘sovereign’ state. Sovereign? Ha! How hilarious is that? Isn’t there like troops from 20 different countries in Iraq? And the whole place is on the brink of civil war…if not fully already in one?
Despite the current Iraqi predicament, the idea of yet another country sending in troops is seriously pissing them off…particularly since the northern part of Iraq (where the Turks plan to invade to route out the PKK terrorists) is one of the only stable parts of the country right now! And northern Iraq is composed mostly of ethnic Kurds, and the Turks are coming in to hunt down a group of radical Kurds. If the Turks do come in, and accidentally kill a bunch of innocent Kurds while trying to kill the ‘bad’ PKK Kurds….OMG there will be hell to pay! That would spark a shit storm of open warfare in the region! The place may quickly get as nasty as the Bagdad region!
And the prospect of that seriously pisses off the US! The US has its hands full already trying to calm down the rest of the Iraq, where most of the conflict centers on sectarian strife between the Sunni and Shia Muslims…fueled by local Sunni extremist, outside terrorist forces like Al-Qaeda, and even next-door-neighbor Iran which funnels in ammo and aid to the Shias. Damn! The US would be pissed about the Turks getting the northern region as hot as the south already is!
And now we have come full circle in our pissing match for the day. Those world leaders certainly have been busy boys today, infuriating each other like its going out of style!
And they are pissed!
Greetings World Watchers! The Plaid Avenger is reporting to you live from a latina lovefest here down in Latin America—a lovefest like no other I’ve ever reported on. Usually in my adventures, a lovefest south of the border involves a lot of salsa music, a lot more tequila, and a whole lotta lovely Latin ladies! But this is a collaboration of a different flavor altogether: one that involves one eccentric Iranian and a whole bunch of Latin lefties….how un-hot can you get? What am I talking about? Dig this:
Latin leftists use New York stage to polish image
Latin America welcomes Ahmadinejad
South America embraces Bush’s arch enemy
Iran Strengthens South America Ties
Ortega Lauds Iran’s Aids to Nicaragua
Is Ecuador’s Correa Following Chavez? (an anti-leftist, pro-US perspective)
Ecuador’s Correa celebrates ‘win’
So what’s the deal? Well, That whack-job Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has been on a South America tour ever since he left the UN meeting last week. But he hasn’t been visiting countries at random…he went straight to Bolivia and then over to Venezuela. These countries now form a kind of ‘deep-leftist’ socialist core of the continent. But make no mistakes about it: they are not the only lefties south of the border. Most of the governments in Latin America as a whole are now left-leaning, with some like Venezuela’s President Hugo Chavez so far to the left that the damn boat is about to tip over. Chavez is also a devout America-basher too, so Ahmadinejad felt right at home; in fact, he was probably downright cozy in Venezuela given the total smack-down he received while he was in the US.
And that’s what this blog is all about: the newly flowering relationship between Iran and the Latin leftists. You know, socialist….some might say communists….and we all know how much the US hates those damn commies! Hates! Hates, my friends! Enough hate to fill the Pacific Ocean basin! If hate were people, the US‘s hate for commies would be China! And Hugo and his hard-core leftist buddies are getting very, very close to be labeled as commies by the US. But the US hates Iran too! So much hate! So it is perhaps it is not a surprise to see those on the US ‘hate list’ teaming up to become buddies—a team whose outright stated mission is to counter US supremacy in the world…
You probably already know that there is lots of bad blood between the US and Chavez, but as I have suggested, he is not alone down south. He has some allies. What buddies am I talking about that you should be aware of? Well, there’s Fidel Castro of Cuba of course, an avowedly outright and open Commie. I think he’s really the only one left who hasn’t gotten the memo that the commie thing didn’t work out anywhere on the planet. The US has made a forty year soap opera based on their blind hate of Castro. Look up the ‘Bay of Pigs’ episode…it’s just hilarious!
But Hugo’s other main squeeze right now is the President of Bolivia, Evo Morales…who was also just on the Daily Show with John Stewart! Did you see that shit? It was hilarious! YouTube it! Evo said something to the effect of: “please don’t put me on your Axis of Evil list.” Ha! What a character! And a deep leftist too! Morales is the first indigenous dude to be elected president, and he used to be a coca farmer…yeah, that’s right…the stuff you make into cocaine! Damn! The US don’t like him much either.
But Hugo also has Daniel Ortega of Nicaragua as an ally. You probably think of cheap homemade tacos when you hear the word Ortega. But the US government just sees red when they hear that name—and I’m not talking about picante sauce my friends! Ortega was a commie rebel fighter that the US tried to wipe out many decades ago…but he became President of his country instead! And he has become president again after a two decade hiatus, much to the chagrin of the US…again! Damn! The US even spent a shitload of money trying to get someone else—anyone else—elected to the post, but they failed. The US really hates Ortega!
And there are others on the lefty Latin list too: Lula of Brazil is a moderate leftist that the US likes; Nestor Kirchner of Argentina and Michelle Bachelet of Chile are center-left folks that the US can deal with; and the newest of the bunch is Raphael Correa of Ecuador, a leftist that may be following more closely to the Chavez playbook when it comes to lefty-socialist stuff.
But wait, wait is this leftist shit anyway? In politics, left-wing or the left, on the left-right political spectrum, is associated with the interests of the working class. Center-left, left of center, and left liberal refer to the left side of mainstream politics in liberal democracies. They support liberal democracy, some degree of private property rights and free markets…but are mostly known for their 1)high spending on social welfare, 2)extensive regulation of the economy, and 3)some public ownership—you know, the state owns the shit. Like in Venezuela; the state owns and controls the oil industry. Damn, state ownership is the opposite of private ownership…hmmmm….and starts to sound a lot like communism! Which the US hates! Hates! Hates! Hates the commies!
So perhaps now you are starting to see why the US has not been very happy with the huge leftward swing that has been occurring just south of its border. And this swing is very recent my friends. All of these elected leaders have come into office in the last decade…and most of them just in the last year! That means they are going to be around for a while longer. Which means the US has a lot of being pissed off in its future. And now back to our story…
These Latin leftist leaders have mostly worried the US not so much because of their internal socialist agendas, but more so because of their foreign policies. Know this: in an attempt to wean themselves off of reliance on the US economy, many of these Latin lefties have been forging relationships with other countries…IN A BIG WAY! What do I mean? Well, most countries in South America have been (for the first time) cutting all kinds of big trade deals with China in the last several years, but they will do business with anybody! And that’s where our main man Ahmadinejad comes in: he has come across the pond to forge economic and cultural ties with these lefties too! And he gets to piss off the US as the same time! Double bonus points for the irate Iranian! Chavez and Ahmadinejad just love getting together and spouting off all kinds of anti-US shit just for kicks. They love to piss off the big boy.
And pissing off the big boy is just what is happening. The US is extremely unhappy with these developments. Why? Well, Latin America has always been considered by the US as its strategic ‘backyard’—an area they don’t want anyone else messing around in. For over a hundred years, the US has been the sole and unchallenged overseer of Latin American affairs…either indirectly, or sometimes way too directly.
But that was then and this is now. Since 9/11, the US has been utterly preoccupied with the Middle East and its War on Terrorism, and has completely ignored what has been happening south of the border. Hell, President Bush has only made one visit down south his whole Presidency…and that was just a couple of months ago! So Latin America has gone looking elsewhere for friends and allies who will pay them more attention, and hopefully make them richer with sweet-ass trade deals. And those leftist leaders get to rally around a theme of nationalism by stressing that they are breaking their reliance on the US economically, but also by becoming full-fledged independent states that don’t bow down to the US diplomatically or culturally.
Its an interesting scenario to be sure. Latin America seems to be becoming a new experiment in 21st century socialism…and no one is quite sure how this lefty soup is going to turn out.
By the way, do you understand why more fervent socialism/left-leaning systems are becoming so dominant in South America/Latin America? Can you guess? Answer: Because they’ve got shitloads of poor people down there! Absolute shitloads! This region has some of the greatest wealth disparity on the planet…and it really shouldn’t given its natural resources and proximity to the US. That’s why many leaders get elected on platforms of social change, helping the poor, helping the working class, and even having the state own/operate industries (like the oil and natural gas industry) in order to generate revenue to have money to spend on social programs. Many like Chavez and Morales and Correa argue that US-style capitalism simply isn’t working for them.
If you were shit poor, in a shit poor country, would you vote for someone who promised more social programs? Hmmmm….. I know that’s a tough one. Think it over for a bit. I’m not saying the leftists are right, I just want you to understand why they are so popular right now.
Get it? Good. Now you know why the Iranian dude chilled with Chavez. Now you know why that pissed off the US. And now you know why the US has lost its position of dominance in the region, which pisses them off even more.
You now know a lot. Congrats. You should have a drink.
Whew! Finally thawing out from my weekend Arctic adventures, and what better place to do it than a coffee house here in Vienna, Austria. Hell, these people invented the coffee house! Mmmmm….soaking up the warmth of a good cup of joe spiked with Zirbenz…my favorite Alpine liqueur. Ahhh…inhaling the heady smoke of a dark bean roast whilst having my shoulders massaged by a sweet little fraulein…oops, where was I? Oh yes! Vienna! What brings the Avenger here, you ask? Well, I had to come down to chill at IAEA headquarters and party with my favorite Austrian Egyptian, Mohamed ElBaradei, who once again finds himself in hot water. Ha! How fitting! Hot water in a coffee house…oh my, sometimes I am too damn good! To the facts:
France ups ante in war of words with Iran over nuke issue
France seeks new set of sanctions on Iran
Europeans Tone Down War Rhetoric in Iran Nuclear Stand-Off
Western talk of Iran war premature “hype”: IAEA head
ElBaradei at center of standoff over Iran’s nuclear program
So before we get to this Elbaradei cat and why he’s so damn important, let’s browse over the headlines. In a nutshell, Iran has been developing its nuclear program at a rapid pace. Iran has claimed from the get go that their program is all about nuclear energy production, and no more. In their defense, Iran is a signatory of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT): a treaty which prohibits the spread of nuke weapons, encourages disarmament of states with nuke weapons, and allows for the development of nuke energy. So far, Iran has been a lawful abider of this treaty, having broken none of its rules. Sorry! I know a lot of folks don’t want to hear that. I’m not defending them…it’s just the way it is.
However, the US and ‘the West’ don’t like and don’t trust Iran, so they believe the Iranians are really after development of nuclear weapons. In their defense, they could be right. That Iranian regime is far from anything you would call stable and sensible. But given the US/the West’s involvement in all the countries surrounding Iran (Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan), I can see why they might crave the security blanket that a nuke bomb might provide them. This is just plaid conjecture of course, but I can understand why they might want one. Can’t you? Hell, if I lived anywhere near the Middle East, I’d want as much ammunition as I could get. Shit, I’d park a scud missile in my garage….but I digress as usual…
So Iran wants a nuke program, ‘the West’ does not want that to happen, and the issue has been heating up here lately…as if the Middle East needed more heat? The US and the EU have been bringing the heat by calling for strict sanctions against the country in order to force them to give up the nuke stuff. And this week’s heat has been coming from quite the unexpected source: the French! Ever since Nick Sarkozy took over as President of France (see: Sarkozy the Shit-Kicker), those guys have seemingly grown some escargot balls of steel overnight. The Frenchies have been insistent that all steps will be taken to ensure that Iran will never have a nuke program…including the possibility of war!
What a bizarre turn of events for the French: they are never the instigators of war….they usually just surrender when the war breaks out. Damn! You know you must be pissing people off if the French want to fight you! Shit! Hitler couldn’t even pull that one off! I just can’t help but think that the US is finding all this terribly amusing: the Frenchies are being more bad-ass than the Bush-ies! How sweet would that be though: the US sending in ‘the boys in berets’ as its first assault wave? Ha! Yep, this situation continues to get hotter and hotter as the weeks pass….but there is a splash of cold water to all of this rhetoric…and that cool water’s name is Mohamed ElBaradei. I refer to him as ‘Cool Hand Nuke’, and he is the real point of today’s blog.
You’ve got to know this dude, because his opinion, and his voice, will be seriously affecting how shit gets played out on our planet in the coming years. Big time. So who is he? Mohamed ElBaradei is an Egyptian diplomat and Director General of the IAEA….aka the International Atomic Energy Agency, a sub-organization of the UN. And an important one at that. The IAEA’s basic mission is to promote the peaceful use of nuke technology for energy purposes while simultaneously limiting nuke technology for weapons purposes. They are often referred to as “the UN’s Nuclear Watchdog”. These are the guys who do inspections on facilities the world over to ensure that the IAEA and the NPT’s aims are being met.
As the head of the IAEA, ElBaradei has the daunting task of compiling all the investigative clues and deciding if a country is breaching the NPT by trying to create nuke weapons. And this is a shitty job. Why? Look at the headlines again from above. Because there is so much political drama between countries, ElBaradei and his crew are constantly harassed from all sides when they make any decision or recommendation. No matter what the IAEA decides, its sure to piss someone off.
Want an example? Sure, here’s one you’ll remember: In the lead up to the current US/Iraq War, the US hounded the shit out of the IAEA to declare that Iraq had weapons. The IAEA went into Iraq to inspect, which pissed off the Iraqis. The IAEA couldn’t find enough evidence to support the claim of a nuke program, and ElBaradei made those facts public, which pissed the shit out of the US. As the story has unfolded after the US invasion, it turns out that ElBaradei was right, which pissed the US even more. In fact, the US was so pissed that it tried to block ElBaradei from being appointed to his third term in office. It was hilarious! The US tried to get their buddy Australia to put up a candidate to defeat Mohamed, but he is just to popular and even the Aussies wouldn’t do it! Ha! It’s just like high school man!
Long story short: know your ElBaradei. He is a level-headed dude who has been striving for peaceful resolution to world nuke issues for over a decade. He is routinely berated by the US and ‘the West’ who think he is too soft on Middle Eastern countries that they want to invade. He looks for facts, not speculation. He is a quiet, reserved man who doesn’t go to award dinners, doesn’t jet-set, doesn’t hang out with world leaders, and doesn’t play politics. He is a calm in the storm that is international politics: the mere fact that he pissed off nearly everyone is a good indicator that he is doing something right! As referenced in the story above, he put the smack-down on France for their hot-headed words concerning a strike against Iran by basically saying: France, chill out with ‘the hype.’ Quote: “I ask everyone to hold their horses until we do the process,” Ha! Hold your horses Frenchies!
Don’t mess with Mohamed my friends! This dude won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2005 (jointly with the IAEA), and he donated his winnings to set up orphanages in Egypt. He is the bomb! Oops…no pun intended. For all of this, and more, I call him Cool Hand Nuke. Hell, this dude may end up preventing a damn war or two, so be sure you know who he is, and what he is up to. His opinions can make or break a nuke program, a country, or a war effort. Seriously. If ElBaradei decides that Iran is breaching the rules, than one word from him can easily incite an invasion from the West.
As for me…its about time to hit the slopes. Where are my plaid ski pants?….
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