The World's Plaidiest News Source
The Plaid Avenger strikes! Time to enlighten but not frighten. Today’s topic: Afghanistan must seriously be going to hell in a hand-basket, and the feeble US news agencies, as well as the US government, just aren’t telling you shit! Check it:
More SAS to take on Taliban
Two more Canadians reportedly killed in Afghanistan
Australia to double Afghan force
US extends troops’ tour of duty
Plaid people! This is serious shit! The government and the media are all focuses intently on watching destruction in Iraq, but everyone seems to have forgotten that the US/NATO invaded Afghanistan many, many moons ago too, and the situation is getting worse! WTF??? AS far as the Plaid is concerned, Iraq is in a full state of civil war, and no amount of US money, soldiers, or bombs is going to stop that process now. It sucks to be sure, but I just call them like I see them.
But the bigger point is this: Iraq has become such a political hot potato in US culture, that everyone has conveniently forgot that there is a still very much active war against the Taliban in Afghanistan….and the US/NATO is losing that one too!!! The US, along with all of its staunchest NATO allies, is quietly increasing the numbers of troops that are being sent to the land-locked, land-mined, dusty desert of Central Asia. And they ain’t being sent to set up circus tents either. Given that the US military is already over-extended in Iraq, the fact the they are putting ever-more-scarce troops in Afghanistan can only mean one thing: bad shit is happening, and it’s libel to get much, much worse.
The world somehow assumed that the Taliban were beat, done, and gone a few years ago…but SURPRISE! They are back, and in full fighting force. The above headlines reference not only increases in troop numbers, but also more frequent deadly attacks on NATO forces there—the Canadians alone have lost 6 to 8 men in the last several days. How is it that the Taliban are regrouping and gaining support? For the very reasons that they came to power in the first damn place!
The Taliban are a hardcore, extremist, religious fundamental group that essentially want to recreate the 11th century again here in the 21st, and that sounds shitty to folks like us in the rich world. But you’ve got to understand that folks in an impoverished, chaotic, lawless, and shit-filled situation (like Afghanistan) think that returning to the 11st century may be A-okay! Why not? The 21st century sucks for them so far! But seriously, the extremism of the Taliban did bring law an order to a chaotic, warlord dominated state; the Taliban did bring an organized and uncorrupted government (fucked up, but not corrupted) to Afghanistan; and the Taliban—yes, the Taliban—even decreased the amount of opium being produced in the state.
While the Plaid Avenger still personally despises the Taliban because of their totalitarian tactics and utter lack of respect for human rights, I at least understand why they were successful in coming to power the first time, and why they seem to be having a resurgence here as of late. Do you now see why? Because the state totally sucks for most people man! From warlord-dominated chaos and poverty to NATO-dominated chaos and poverty, folks in this country have not had much to hope for. And to be honest, the only entity that has ever had any success in controlling this state for even a limited time has been….can you guess?….yep, that’s right: the Taliban.
Let’s get one thing straight Plaid People: I think they suck. The Plaid Avenger fights for justice, human rights, human dignity, and human equality, and thus the Taliban is no friend of mine. But I want you to understand the dilemma of the people in Afghanistan, and indeed of the NATO forces in Afghanistan as well. Shits gotta change. Just trying to kill the bad guys isn’t enough anymore. Because as the US/NATO forces have found out, there is no killing of all the bad guys…they will never get them all. ‘The West’ has got to change its attitude about invading countries to simply kill bad guys. It hasn’t worked, its not working, and it’s not going to ever work.
Do I have all the answers about how to do it right? Nope. I am simply one slightly tipsy superhero who hopes that someone in the US state Department, or the NATO command, or at the UN figures out that it takes more than bombs and bullets to win these battles. In Afghanistan, life sucks, everyone is impoverished, most are hungry, the economy is non-existent, locals are dying, NATO troops are dying, and opium production has just reaching an all-time record high (pun intended), while the damn country is being occupied by the US.
WTF? How is killing a bunch of renegade desert bandits going to change any of that? Plaid Avenger Afghan 3-month forecast: Look for it to be a long, hot summer of death and destruction, with highs in the upper 110’s…and highs in the opium fields too.
Write your Congressman. Write NATO. Join the French Foreign Legion and invade the Vatican. Whatever it takes to make a change.
Iran: “Please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, oh please won’t somebody bomb us? We, the Iranian leadership, are begging the international community to come bomb the shit out of our civilians so that we may claim a higher moral ground than you, while simultaneously infuriating our population into being as extreme as we are. Won’t you please help?”
Iran says begins industrial scale uranium enrichment
Iran’s industrial scale fuel production a prelude to talks
Europe: Majority supports strike on Iran
Oops. Does the Plaid Avenger seem too cynical here? Oh well. I just call’em like I see’em sometimes. And it really pisses me off too. I would love to see a poll out of Iran which shows the majority attitude of the Iranians on the street. I would love to eat my hat after seeing some sort of huge majority of Persian folks that actually support the rapid acceleration of pissing off the rest of the planet.
You can’t really even just point at the US or the Europeans as the only groups that are not happy about these Iranians developments: you all should know by now that the UN Permanent Security Council unanimously voted for sanctions against Iran—that means Russia and China are not thrilled with these events either (at least publicly). The IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) is not particularly optimistic that much good is going to come of this, and of course ‘the West’ takes these maneuvers as a prelude to aggression. Is it? I don’t really think so, but I do believe all of the Iranian government actions are definitely intended to evoke a response—a response which will include escalating the conflict. What a crock of shit.
This whole drama of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad jumping up and down screaming that it is his nation’s god-given right to have nuclear power is a theater of the absurd. Couple that with the preposterous holding of 15 British sailors deal last week—man, that shit looked like a badly produced ABC after-school special from the 70’s—and you have the makings of a full-on global confrontation…and for what? So that Iran can become a major strategic player in the Middle East (which they already are), so that Iran can become a major energy power (which they already are), or so that Iran can be respected at the world table as an equal of the US, Russia, and China (which is impossible given the way they are trying to achieve this). Hell man, I have no idea what these folks hope to gain anymore. Maybe some of you have some opinions?
The Plaid Avenger’s best guess is that they want to be the sole Middle Eastern power to thumb its nose at ‘the West’ (and the wider world in general) because most other countries in the Middle East have strategic ties to the US, and are therefore seen as sucking up to ‘the West’. And it’s partly an ethnic/religious thing too, that you certainly must know to understand the situation. Here is the deal:
Iran is ethnically Persian and religiously Shiite Muslim. Most of the rest of the Middle East is ethnically Arab and religiously Sunni Muslim (particularly the main power players of Saudi Arabia and Egypt.) Iraq‘s current civil war is based on these exact divisions. These groups of folks have not gotten along well for a millennium or so, and it doesn’t appear that it’s getting any better anytime soon. Anyway, here in the 21st century there is definitely a power struggle, or struggle for influence, occurring within the greater Middle East which is pitting these two teams against each other. Throw in a few other teams (Team Turkey, Team Israel, and Team ‘West”) and you have a good old fashion cage-match going down.
Because so many of the Arab/Sunni countries have strategic ties to the US, Iran is now seen as the sole power that is ‘uncorrupted’ by ‘the West’: a theme that seems to be getting them some respect across the region as of late. And by obtaining nuclear power/a nuclear weapon, Iran will certainly become more of a player on the world stage than any of its Arab/Sunni neighbors. Specifically, a nuclear weapon would put them into a serious strategic power position to be able to throw its weight around about the Israeli/Palestine conflict, and not fear any retribution from ‘the West’. Thus, Team Persia would be the unequaled power leader of the region. Oh, wait a minute….that’s why they would want a nuclear weapon. I guess you really can’t blame them.
But while the future may hold some higher status for Iran, it’s not going to come without a high price…if it comes at all. I guess that’s what it’s all about; just a global high-stakes poker match that Iran hopes to bluff its way through. Well, I guess it’s definitely worth it for the Iranian leadership: after all, if their country gets bombed or invaded, it certainly won’t be the government officials that will get hurt. They never do. What’s a few thousand civilian casualties…or even a few hundred thousand? As long as the leaders look good, I’m sure it’s an okay price to pay. What a joke.
Greetings world watchers. Just a quick digression for you today on why Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Syria is actually an important event. Doesn’t matter to me if you are a Democrat who supports her bold political maneuver in defiance of the White House, or if you are a Republican who thinks she is the anti-Christ. Political bullshit is not the Plaid Avenger’s concern. Small moves which may have large impacts in the future are what we deal with in this forum, so here we go…
Pelosi receives warm welcome in Syria
Cheney hits out at Pelosi visit
US Democrat Pelosi in Syria talks
To repeat: I am not expressing any opinion on whether or not Pelosi’s visit to the Middle East is a good thing or a bad thing. That’s just not my thing for now. You readers can do your thing in the comments forum to beat, berate, and bash her, or each other. The Avenger’s interest in this news event has far greater impacts than the current political power stand-off in the US, or even the goofball US foreign policy towards the Middle East. No, I see something much bigger here. I see the potential for a re-working of the whole American government system, specifically in the foreign policy arena. Perhaps just a bit of background to start though…
You already know, or you damn well should know, that since the last election cycle the US Congress has been controlled by the Democrats. The White House is of course still staunchly Republican. Thus: friction. As has been over-reported in the last several months, many Democrats favor US withdrawal from the current Iraq War, while most Republicans—including those in the White House—are sticking to their guns. Pun intended. So what’s this got to do with Nancy?
Nancy Pelosi is the first woman to become the Speaker of the House. Quite frankly, the woman part is of no concern to me, or this story—but I do likes the women! And women in power? Hell yes! What a turn-on! Oops, I digress as usual. Anyway, Speaker of the House is an important position in the US government. A damned important position. Like third in line of power after the President and Vice-President. As part of her political agenda to change US foreign policy, the Speaker went to visit the Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, as well a host of other folks in the Middle East. Since the official US foreign policy from the White House has been a ‘no-talk-to’ Syria since 2005, the administration has been pissed to say the least. Which brings us to this:
Speaker of the House on a foreign policy tour? Ballsy. Ballsy to say the least. And new! No Speaker has done anything like that before! At least not without a nod from the White House. And that’s why it’s a big story to the Plaid Avenger. This turn of events here in our lifetime may mark the start of a new age of American politics. Since American politics eventually affect all world politics, it is an important story for the globe. What the hell am I talking about?
Foreign policy has always been an exclusively executive branch/President thing. It’s one of those powers that only the President of the US wields, on behalf of the rest of the US. This Pelosi tour seriously challenges that notion. This idea that only one dude sitting in the White House calls all the shots on how the US will work with the rest of the entire planet may be getting seriously outdated. Why?
Hell I don’t know why. Perhaps the world is now just too complicated for a single man with a single plan to deal with. Perhaps it’s due to the globalization of communications and news: too many of us now know too much about what’s happening all over the planet…which of course results in lots of different opinions on how the US should be dealing with those happenings. Perhaps it really is time to have a greater democratic political voice in US foreign policy. That’s democratic voice with a small d, not a big D—meaning the people (the demos) should have a bigger voice, not just the Democratic Party. Perhaps it’s time the US considers altering is ‘un-alterable’ system to allow more room for other voices in the foreign policy arena.
Ah, the good old days of foreign policy…before global communications and global news updated second to second, and before the widespread accessibility of all kinds of information…the government of any state could so easily dictate foreign policy on behalf of its citizens, because by and large their citizen were totally clueless about what was happening in the world. I’m sure it made things much easier on the rulers. They didn’t really need to explain their actions to the masses; they could make up any story that they wanted…and hell, some rulers even made up the results of their actions regardless of reality. I’m sure many US Presidents of the last decades have yearned for those good old days. But they are gone. Dead and buried my friends. So what is the future?
That I do not know. But the Speaker in Syria has opened a can of worms that will never be closed again. From now on, look for more and more high-ranking government officials to be very assertive in their US foreign policy moves, even if their actions are not condoned by the White Hose. It will also be used more as a political tool of in-fighting between the political parties from here on out too.
There are many parliamentary democracies around the globe that have a prime minister position—think Tony Blair or Dr. Manmohan Singh. In many of these systems, the President of the country deals with domestic issues, while the Prime Minister is the foreign policy guru that deals with all the international issues. Perhaps its time for a republic like the US to experiment with such a division of labor. Is it really realistic in the 21st century to think one person can do it all? Yeah, yeah, I know the President has his Cabinet, but let’s be honest: those are just a bunch of lackeys towing the line on the President’s policies. They don’t stray too far off the path. (That’s one of the reasons Colin Powell quit a few years ago—he was too assertive.)
Anyway, that’s the rant for now. The Plaid thinks that perhaps we need a Prime.
Prime Minister of Plaid….Hmmmmmm….I wonder if I would get my own jet?
Today’s interesting story involves the US Secretary of State Condi Rice giving a bit of a democracy smack-down to Hosni Mubarak. (US concern over Egyptian reforms) She is in Egypt today meeting with Arab leaders from across the Middle East. But its not to her story that I will turn your attention. Its all about Hosni. Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak is in a fascinating situation which speaks to a much greater issue in the Middle East:
Q: How do you have true democracy in a state where there are folks who would vote to get rid of the democracy?
A: You don’t have a true democracy.
What the hell is the Plaid Avenger talking about here? I’m ranting about Egypt: a staunch US ally in the region; a place that the US government calls a ‘great example of democracy in the Middle East’; a state the has held something that kind of looks like elections, but has resulted in Hosni Mubarak being the president for the last 25 years; and recently a place that is going to ban religious political parties….
Huh? That doesn’t sound like democracy. What gives? Here’s the real deal: Hosni has essentially ruled the country as a ‘one-party’ state since he came to power in 1981 when the then President Anwar Sadat was assassinated. It has not really been a dictatorship situation, since the country has actually held elections—however, the election ballad has only ever had Mubarak’s name on it. Its been kind of hard for him to lose…like impossible. And make no bones about it: he does enjoy widespread popularity throughout the country. But not everybody loves him, and not everybody votes for him, and not everybody thinks that life in the shadows of the pyramids is all date wine and roses…
There have been religious political parties forming to challenge the incumbent president for years, and they have been getting shut down for years by the government. (Most recently one called The Muslim Brotherhood) Now, Hosni is planning to change their constitution to outright ban the formation of religious political parties, and that makes democracy-loving nations like the US cringe—especially because the US government touts how Egypt is a model democracy for other in the region to follow! Like Iraq….ummmm…yeah, sure… But it’s the Iraq issue that makes this Egypt story so important. Follow me here:
- The US/‘The West’ wants these countries to be democratic…
- Democracy allows folks to express their views…
- And to elect officials to represent their views…
- And some religious groups’ views are that democracy is not that good and that their state should be a theocracy (religious state outright)…
- Which means that a majority of folks could democratically vote to turn their state into a theocracy…
- Which means there would be no more democracy.
Does your head hurt as much as mine? Yeah, and Hosni’s too! And probably a lot of other heads across the Middle East, where religious ideals and political realities are intricately intertwined.
Bottom line: many countries in this region pay lip service to democratic ideals, but have to hold power with a tight fist to just to keep a lid on things. That democracy thing is a tricky beast—it can turn and bite you in the ass man! The Plaid Avenger is all about equality for all, and I must admit that I personally think democracy kicks ass, and everyone on the planet should be able to voice their opinions. But that’s just not the way its going to be in many places, at least for now. Algeria, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan…the whole ‘let’s just make them into a democracy overnite’ foreign policy bullshit is just not going to fly!
Anyway, this little blog is just to get you to think about the inherent difficulties of establishing democracy in a place like the Middle East, and perhaps to point out how overly-simplistic US foreign policy tends to be. But wait! Isn’t what I just described on this page overly-simplistic? Yes it is my friends, but this is just a damn blog, not an invasion of a foreign country….yet.
The Plaid Avenger Strikes!
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