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Screw Oz: Sri Lanka’s got the Lions and Tigers, but no Bears

Panda Power my ass! This ain't no Furries convention!What is up Party Plaid People!?! Sorry for the hiatus, but the Plaid Avenger got Shanghai-ed on his way to Pyongyang to play ping-pong with Jing-Jing the giant panda bear and official mascot of the 2008 Chinese Olympics.  Ha! There’s your damn bear reference! Now this is officially the blog of Lions, Tigers, and Bears—and if you just said “oh my!” to yourself, then you are officially as gay as the Lollipop Kids in Munchkinland.  But I digress as usual… 

What I’m really here to educate you about involves beer and bombs, but not in that order.  I landed here in Sri Lanka and after a week-long binge decided that you Americans should know about a couple of animals of note here in the former British colony known as Ceylon.  This country has some fascinating wildlife you should look into…but these are no ordinary Lions and Tigers….

14 combatants killed in 2 days of Sri Lankan clashes

Tamil Tigers strike Colombo, naval base

Sri Lanka’s worsening war fans ethnic Tamils’ fears

Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam: the Wikipedia run-down for those interested in greater detail

Lion Stout rated from The Beer Advocate

The Lion hunt ends in west Londo from Michael Jackson (no, not the one-gloved freak)

Wicked Cat Graphic! Where do I get a t-shirt?Ah yes! Now that you have painstakingly perused those particular publications, let’s get on with the pontifications.  The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), commonly known as the Tamil Tigers, is a group that can be identified as either a rebel alliance fighting for freedom of its peoples, or a terrorist group stirring up trouble and causing political and economic turbulence in Sri Lanka—depending of course on the point of view of who you ask.  If you ask the Tamil folks, they are freedom fighters; if you ask Sri Lanka, the EU, India, and the US, they are terrorists.  So what gives?

Tamil TerritoryThis is an easy one to understand.  Most of the folks hanging out in Sri Lanka are ethnically Sinhalese, comprising about 80% of the total population. The ethnic group called Tamils is concentrated in the north, east, and western provinces of the country, and can be further subdivided into two groups. Tamils, who were brought as indentured servants from India by British colonists to work on estate plantations, are called “Indian Origin” Tamils. They are distinguished from the native Tamil population that has resided in Sri Lanka since ancient times.

Ancient origins or forced labor, either way the Tamil ethnic group has its roots in India and account for about 10% of the total population. Thus, a minority. And a minority that feels threatened, coerced, or otherwise downtrodden by the Sinhalese majority.  Is that the case? Hell if I know, but that’s the way it sits here in the 21st century…  And as such, many Tamils feel they need to have their own territory independent of the Sinhalese controlled Sri Lanka proper.  In short, it’s a civil war situation pulling the country apart. But that’s a common story the world over.  What makes this one unique?

What are they known for? The Tigers should perhaps be credited mostly with the pronounced use of suicide bombers as a strategic tactic—and specifically using women as suicide bombers too.  While we often think suicide bombers as a distinct tool of extremist Islamists or Palestinian splinter groups, Sri Lanka has been at it for a while too, and has been much more deadly with them, especially when it comes to targeting public officials and military targets as opposed to civilian ones. Of great note, the Tigers killed Indian Prime Minister Sri Rajiv Gandhi in 1991.

Stylish Terrorist/Rebel…

The other thing that sets the Tigers apart from modern day terrorist/rebel organizations is that they have a well-established ground base or territory that they work from (see map), a well-established and easily identified military organization (as witnessed in their cool uniforms), a totally wicked official logo (see above), a naval force (the Sea Tigers), but most importantly and most currently: air power.  On March 26th of this year the Tigers flew a couple of small aircraft under the radar and dropped a few bombs around the Sri Lankan capital of Colombo.  That is ballsy stuff my friends!  No other group labeled as terrorist anywhere else in the world is so visible or carries out such organized attacks as the Tigers.

Mind you, I’m not singing their praises.  This whole conflict should have been resolved peacefully years ago, and the Avenger blames both sides for being pig-headed and short-sighted.  Over 60,000 Sri Lankans have died since 1983 as a result of this petty civil war, with no clear end in sight. Damn, why do we humans have to be so damn dumb?

King of the Jungle! Meow!From dumb to numb. Now let’s lighten the mood with the other topic of the day: Sri Lankan Lions! While the Tigers motives may be mischievous, the Lion in definitely the king of this jungle! I’m talking about beer my friends…a kick ass stout to be exact.

Originally brewed by Ceylon Brewery, the Lion line has expanded into its own in the last hundred years to be the premier export beer of the country. Still brewed in the hill town of Nuwara   Eliya and now also in the recently established Lion Brewery in Biyagama, Lion Stout and Lion Lager embody all that is good and wholesome in the island country. And the Plaid Avenger will not lead you astray my friends–the stout is the more worthy your attention.  Dark, rich, coffee and chocolate hints of pure deliciousness await you when you plunge into this beer.  And packing an average 8% alcohol by volume, Lion Stout makes Guinness look and taste like baby shit in comparison.

You should easily be able to find this beer in any specialty store across the US…but why settle for second best?  Get your ass on a plane and visit Sri   Lanka—cause the beer packs an even bigger punch when it’s fresh in-country. I swear on the plaid pants my mother knitted me, this shit is more like 15% alcohol when you get it on tap in Colombo.  Now look, you may think I’m a bullshitter, but I don’t mince words when it comes to my drinks…and even a professional drinker like myself got totally whammied by just two 20 oz. tall boys of this stuff in a hotel lobby outside the capital. Damn! That shit was good! I think the stuff brewed for consumption in Ceylon must have hallucinogenic properties…cause I got a warm fuzzy feeling after just one, and after the second I woke up with a Tamil Tigers tattoo across my ass!

Damn those Tigers! But praise the Lion! The Plaid Avenger has struck again!

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You Gotsta’ Know the SCO!!!

The mother of all logos: Shanghai sweetness!Greetings from Shanghai my Plaid Friends!  Stopped in from Ankara so I could sniff around to see what shenanigans that savvy Shanghai Six are up to.  What? You don’t know who the Shanghai Six are?  Hell, I’ve been following these guys since they were a little bitty newborn Shanghai Five!  Perhaps you know them by their newer, streamlined cool nickname, the SCO: the Shanghai Cooperation Organization?  What? Still drawing a blank?  Oh my friends, if you want to understand what’s going on in the world, you better know your SCO.  Here, try these on for size:

Shanghai plan to fight extremism (old school story-check the date)

Shanghai grouping moves centre stage

SCO joint military exercises to be held in Russia in 2007

Don’t play this Great Game

Pakistan and the SCO

Iran urges Central Asian bloc to counter West

Who the hell are these guys? The current SCO/Shanghai Six are: China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.  The Asian giants on either side of a smattering of central Asian states—a big “Stan” sandwich! Ha!  That is too damn good!  I’ll have a side of fries with my Stan Sandwich!  And speaking of sides, there are some of those too: Iran, Afghanistan, Mongolia, India and Pakistan have all requested and obtained observer status—which means they get to come to the meetings and hang out with the cool kids in the SCO clubhouse.  I wonder if they have a secret hand shake? A shake with my fries and Stan-wich…oh, I’m too much today!

But I digress…

What the hell are they up to?  This club was formed from the ashes of the demise of the USSR, and their original mission consisted of curbing “extremism, terrorism and separatism”—and let’s call a spade a spade here: their talking about Islamic extremism and Islamic terrorism, and separatism of any damn color or flavor.  Some of these states are totalitarian in nature, others are one-party states, and some are fledgling democracies, so you can probably figure out very quickly how they deal with extremism, terrorism and separatism.  ‘Iron fisted’ may be too strong a term, but let’s just say that the use of force to quell internal troubles is usually in the top three responses, if not the number one.  In other words, China and Russia have no qualms about Tajikistan or Uzbekistan suppressing internal dissent with force—as long as its guised under the ‘stabilizing security’ heading.  But that’s not what I really want to blather about.  It’s this:

SCO: spanning the continentSecurity may have been the foundation block, but my oh my, they are a long way from home now!  The SCO is one of the fastest growing clubs on the planet, mostly growing in terms of their mission statement.  Now they conduct joint military exercises (hmmm…kind of like an Asian NATO), are signing all sorts of trade pacts (hmmm…kind of like an Asian EU), and there is been a fluttering of talk in the last six months about the SCO forming a giant natural gas cartel to stabilize market outputs and prices (hmmm…kind of like an Asian OPEC).

Wow! That is potent stuff!  The fact that Vladimir Putin and several others completely dismissed the Asian OPEC idea publicly means to me that they are actually seriously considering it behind closed doors. These guys have terrible poker faces! If they really had no desire to build a natural gas coalition, they would have pretended to do it just to scare the shit out of everybody.  Like oil is to the Middle East, natural gas is to Russia and Central Asia—in that they have the lion’s share of the world’s reserves, and could easily use it for price-fixing and political advantage.  I look for that gas activity to start discreetly building next year—pun intended.

The ‘security/military’ maneuvers are very interesting as well, since they are the largest of their kind that the world has ever known. I’m not sure why no one has pointed that out.  China has the biggest manned military on the planet. And Russia has the second biggest arsenal after the US, so you’re talking a seriously powerful group of folks from a strategic standpoint.  And don’t start stock-piling for WW3; I am in no way shape of form suggesting that this group is planning anything offensively.  Quite the contrary! I am suggesting that much like NATO, they are setting themselves up as an ‘un-attackable’ group. Many are already calling the SCO the ‘anti-Western’ option.  Hmmm…Interesting shit for sure.

Their trade activity is getting hot too, as most countries want to get in on the trade block action.  That’s why Iran, Pakistan, India and Mongolia wanted observer status, and I’m assuming they will all take full-member status if it’s ever offered to them. Everybody wants a piece of that SCO pie!  Japan too has to pay attention to the action, since so much of their energy and other imports flows from the continent. Others will follow, but Russia and China have already vowed that unlike the EU, growth will be slow and controlled no matter what the future of the SCO holds.  Those bastards are as patient as stones when it comes to foreign policy!

Lastly, I’ll point this out: the US is very unhappy about the SCO. Why? The SCO is definitely a threat to US power in the region. Def. Def. Def. The SCO has already pressured its member countries into forcing out some US military bases, and has openly stated that all US military installations should be gone in the near future. The SCO as the Asian NATO gives many other countries a viable option to team up with in the 21st century…an option that is not US based, backed, or controlled.  In fact, you should really know this: the US has asked for observer status to the SCO for years, and been refused!!! The SCO won’t let Uncle Sam even hang out in the clubhouse! Damn, Unc is getting pissed!

Russia and China‘s ties with Iran through the SCO are also irksome for the US—it’s why Russia and China continue to vote down tough sanctions against Iran in the UN Permanent Security Council. Doh! Unc is getting more pissed!

And the gas? Don’t even get me started with the gas! The US and Europe will be shitting themselves if an OPEC-like gas coalition gets formed—pun intended again! As the biggest consumers of both oil and natural gas, the US and Europe are likely to be strung up by the energy balls in the coming century, because Asia‘s got it all!

Damn! That SCO is one to watch my friends!  But you won’t read about it in the US press, because they are totally clueless.  Even Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert can’t help you like the Plaid Avenger can when it comes to international intrigue!

Party on! Shanghai-style!


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Eurasian Persuasion: Ejected by EU? Slide into Central Asia!

Greetings again from Ankara my Plaid Friends!  On my way back from Pakistan, I felt the overwhelming urge for some raki and Turkish Delight (the confection has taken such a bad rap since that little lying bastard Edmund wanted it in ‘The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe’)…aslan sütü and lokum.  What a delightful pair to have while in Turkey! I do love the lion’s milk!  Yeah baby!    And Turkey is back on my radar screen again already due to some current events.  Dig it:

Turkey stakes a Central Asian claim
US to push Sarkozy on Turkey’s EU processBetween Turkey and the EU, two plus two does not necessarily equal four
EU excited and worried by Sarkozy

Now I’ve chatted about the EU’s apprehension for Turkish ascension before on this blog, so I need not go back into those details (see EU turkeys talk turkey with Turkey ). But what I want to blather about today is what I’ve been telling my classes for years: Turkey is on a pivot point in modern history, and it looks as if a direction is soon to be chosen…if not downright forced on it!  What pivot do I speak of?  I’m referring to one of two directions Turkey will take to team up with in terms of economies, cultures, and politics.  Those two team choices are the EU or Central Asia/Middle East. West or East. Could the choices be made more geographically distinct? 

Turkey is a population powerhouse, Turkey is a growing economic power, and Turkey is increasingly a vital hub for the international flow of oil and natural gas.  Turkey will be a leader in the 21st century.  The question is: of what?  Will they be accepted into the EU and embrace the West even more, or will they be snubbed by the EU and turn around and become a power broker of a Central Asian/Middle Eastern coalition?

Ottoman Designs on Central Asian Squad?

An Ottoman Empire Part Deux? Seems increasingly likely. Why?

As a very savvy commenter pointed out in a previous blog (see Fuck ‘Freedom Fries’: France is Freakin’ Back, Fools!), the election of anti-EU-enlargement Nicolas Sarkozy in France is very likely to put a huge damper on Turkish movement forward with EU entry.  But that French fairy is only the latest nail in the coffin of Turkey‘s EU talks: Chancellor of Germany Angela Merkel is also vehemently opposed to the Turks, and the likely-next-Prime Minister of the UK, Gordon ‘Brown Sugar’ Brown, may be no proponent of Ankara either. And this ‘EU Dream Team’ of leaders are all youngish and recently-elected, so they are going to be around for while—which may mean Turkey won’t be!

As pointed out numerous times by the Avenger, the US is HUGELY in favor of Turkey staying staunchly in the western sphere of influence, and they are pushing hard for the EU to embrace their Turkish ally. Why would this be? Turkey is a NATO member, and one that has been of central and downright critical importance for the War on Terrorism: Afghan Chapter.  The US also sees Turkey as the only successful Islamic democracy in the region to be emulated by its Middle Eastern neighbors, so Uncle Sam is keen on keeping Turkey in their corner of the ring.  Simply put, without Turkish help, the war on terrorism in the Middle East and Central Asia becomes seriously hampered, if not outright hamstrung. 

The other consideration here is that Turkey is increasingly becoming a pivotal power player in the energy game too.  Long story short:

  • The EU imports virtually all of its oil and natural gas needs…
  • Central Asia has been increasing its output of energy radically in the last decade, with lots more to come…
  • Russia has been building an energy empire on which Europe is currently addicted to…
  • Energy from Central Asia is transported to the EU thru Russia and Turkey
  • Many in the EU are getting very worried about their over-reliance on Russian energy, which increases Russian geopolitical influence…
  • Thus, including Turkey in the EU would shift the energy influence to a country on their own team…

And therefore shutting out Turkey will further shut out strategic ties to their energy sources. Don’t sound too smart to me, but whatever. Perhaps the EU will go totally green in the next ten years and never use oil again. Yeah…..right.  As of this writing, it appears that the EU fears negative repercussions of Turkish entry in the EU much much much more than it fears losing an ally on the anti-terrorism campaign and an ally in their energy strategy.  Tricky business. Tricky business indeed.  I wonder if the ‘EU Dream Team’ will still be glad they excluded the Turks if Turkey turns around and starts to put the energy crunch on them…like the Russians have been.

But watch out!  This is what I really want you to see!  The Turks are not going to roll over and die if they don’t get in the EU, and Central Asia may be where they will re-focus their foreign policy and diplomacy.  Why there? Several reasons:

Turk Talk Time: Places where the Language is Turkic

1)Cultural and historic ties—the ethnic group called ‘the Turks’ are from Central Asia originally, and they share linguistic and religious commonalities with their Asian buddies. Ever wonder how Turkmenistan got its name?
2)As pointed out above, Central Asia is producing a shitload of energy…and a serious percentage of that shitload flows thru Turkey to get to the rest of the world. Turkey would like to see even more flow thru their territory, thus increasing their geopolitical hand while decreasing Russia‘s—‘cause whoever has or controls the oil of the future controls a lot!
3)While Turkey may be looked upon as a poor and backwards stepchild within the EU framework, it would be a true leader of states to their east—being richer, more technologically advanced and more politically stable than virtually any country east of them to China! And speaking of China, Turkey‘s involvement as a power player in Central Asia would also cut into China‘s influence as well. The ‘Great Game’ is back on!

So Europe has got some thinking to do, and Turkey does as well.  Many in Turkey are becoming totally disenfranchised with the whole bullshit EU entry process, and many have given up on it already.  But that don’t mean that they’ve given up aspirations to be a regional power! Let’s watch the Turks carefully this year to see where new relationships may be blossoming…I personally bet that the next President or Prime Minister of Turkey will soon go on a whirlwind tour of Central Asia states trying to sign as many trade deals as he can…but we shall see.

I won’t lie to you Turkey: you’ve got your work cut out for you trying to establish ties in Central Asia, cause the SCO has beat you to the punch. SCO? What the hell is an SCO? The Shanghai Cooperation Organization is not to be messed with!  Back the fuck up off the SCO!  Maybe I better fly from here to China and tell you a little bit more about these guys in my next blog….


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Precariously Perilous Position: President Pervez of Pakistan

Mush the Man of Pakistan; on the verge of getting cannedGreetings from Pakistan my Plaid Friends.  Just popped in to the mountains here in Kashmir to pick up a sweet plaid sweater.  Got to love that Kashmir!  And of course trouble follows me…big riots broke out in Karachi this weekend, riots which spell big trouble for the most precariously position Paki of them all: my main man Pervez. Check it:

Senior official of Pakistani Supreme Court is killed

Riots in Karachi leave dozens dead

Strikes paralyse Pakistan amid more violence

Musharraf’s poll strategy in ruins

Pakistan’s Democracy Movement Defies Repression

What happened to our main Pak-man Musharraf? General Pervez Musharraf is also President Pervez Musharraf of Pakistan. But make no bones about it, while he may be called President and walk around in a nice suit, he is still the main General and commands the armed forces.  Mush took over the government by force in 1999 and has led it ever since. He is a huge US ally (Pakistan is the #3 recipient of US foreign aid), and major player in the fight against global terrorism, but simultaneously is not much loved at home. There have been several assassination attempts, and violent protests always seem to lurk just below the surface of this society.  What is the latest turmoil about?

The run-down:

  1. On March 9th Mush the Man fires the head of Pakistan‘s Supreme Court, Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry, for bad behavior.  Was Chaudhry really corrupt and doing questionable things? Plaid sez: “probably.” Was he really that much more corrupt than anybody else? Plaid sez: “probably not.”
  2. Ever since, lawyers across the country have staged strikes in a form of protest to Mush’s involvement in the judicial branch. These strikes have completely shut down the court system.  Many think that Chaudhry was fired solely because he had become an outspoken critic of harsh anti-terrorist activity of the Mush government.  Is that true? Plaid sez: “Possibly, but not probably.”
  3. These strikes have now turned into a whole anti-Mush, anti-government, pro-democracy movement across the country, resulting in several big violent blow-ups, the latest being in Karachi over the weekend.  Is all of Pakistan rising up in protest? Plaid sez: “Hard to tell as an outsider. I’d say the country is split: maybe 20% avidly pro-Mush, maybe 20% violently anti-Mush, and everybody else is somewhere in-between.”

Long story short: Mush is in a mess.  I think this guy has got to have the highest stress job on the whole damn planet.  Man, I wouldn’t wish his position on a broke-dick dog. What am I talking about? Dig this:

Musharraf is trying to pacify the wants and desires of 170 million citizens—that’s the 6th biggest population in the world. It’s also a devoutly Islamic society, including the whole spectrum of religious views from the mainstream to the seriously extreme.  It’s a society that has attempted to be a democracy since its inception back in 1947, with less than desirable results—the reason Mush took over the country in 1999 was because of massively widespread government corruption.  There are a slew of extremist factions and separatists groups pulling the country apart, especially all around the Afghan border (look up Waziristan, Balochistan, the Taliban—damn, that sounds like a Dr. Seuss book).  Mush is trying to keep a lid on terrorist activity in Afghanistan, terrorist activity in Pakistan near the Afghan border, terrorist activity in Kashmir, terrorist activity in India, and of course terrorist activity all throughout Pakistan itself.  Damn! Every time a bomb goes off anywhere in Asia, Pakistan takes the heat!

And it gets even worse! In an attempt to keep Pakistan on the list of the ‘good’ countries, Mush has to suck up to the US and the other players in the ‘War on Terrorism’ by cracking down as hard as he can in Pakistan—which of course further infuriates the people of Pakistan, which pushes even more of them to embrace extremism.  Damn! Talk about a vicious circle!  This dude is really between a rock and a hard place! Which brings us back to these current events:

While the Plaid Avenger personally thinks Musharraf is an okay cat, there is no way that he can be considered a truly elected president in a real democracy. Pakistan is in no way, shape, or form a real functioning democracy right now—and maybe its not ever going to be one either.  While Mush certainly has international support from other governments, he certainly does not have clear-cut widespread support of the people.  That’s why this group of lawyers and a fired chief justice are getting so much airplay, as well as inciting the masses.  Many see Mush as an authoritarian dictator and Western-stooge, and it’s not hard to envision why they think that way.  Given his situation, what else can he do? I pose that question to you, readers.  Especially if you live in Pakistan.

India, US: not keen on anyone but Mush with the missiles.But know what’s really going on here Plaid People: the rest of the planet (particularly the US and India) does not want to see nuclear-armed Pakistan fall into total chaos, anarchy, or even a theocratic state.  The other countries of the world will continue to support Musharraf, or even another similar authoritarian leader, in order to keep a lid on the boiling pot we call Pakistan.  The US, the EU, and India all continue to rally around the Mush government because they see no other viable options right now, or even in the foreseeable future.  It gets tricky for true democracies to show support for ‘fake’ democracies like Pakistan—and now perhaps you can see why they do it anyway.

Poor Musharraf. Every single thing this guy does infuriates a shitload of people. And it don’t look like things are going to get any better for him, or his country, for some time to come.

My Mush advice: keep the kevlar on my friend.

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British Bombshell: Bye-Bye Blair, Bring on the Brown Sugar!

Blair: bailing out while the bailing is good!Just woke up from partying in Paris, and popped over to London to start on a pub crawl when I heard this news.  Blair bailing out! Yet another bedrock political leader in Europe bites the dust!  Man, ‘tis the season for change all over the Old World apparently.  Check it:

Blair will stand down on 27 June

Gordon Brown, the Next Man in Number 10 — Most Likely

Smirking Gordon says: bye, bye Tony

Blair: Ten years is enough

The US’ greatest lapdog is bowing out, as in bow-wow-wowing out—pun intended my plaid friends!  Where or where will the US ever find such a loyal pooch to blindly follow them into armed adventures across the globe.  Hmmm…maybe the Japanese after they scrap their pacifist constitution…or maybe the Australians after they triple their population!  Who knows?  One thing is for sure: the Brits won’t be quite as bold supporters of US bombings from here on out.  But I digress, let’s back up the cart…

Prime Minister Tony Blair has been leading Great Britain for a decade straight, and helped his political party win three successive elections—that would be the Labour Party to the unfamiliar.  The Labour Party can be likened to the Democratic  Party here in the US.  And we can go one step further in the analogy: Tony Blair was/is the British version of Bill Clinton.  Both dudes are center-left, socially liberal, youngish, handsome, slick speaking, eye-candy politicians who ushered in a new younger, hipper, liberal age into both countries roughly at the same time.  While the US turned back to the conservative Republicans in 2000, the UK has remained staunchly in the hands of the liberal Labour crew.  Bill and Blair were bosom buddies back in the day…and in the days since, Blair has continued his cozy relationship with the US even under the Bush administration…and perhaps that is why he is bailing out right now.

Blair bailing because of Bush? Many would interpret events that way.  Blair’s unwavering support for the Bush-led US war in Iraq has been extremely unpopular in the pubs and soccer fields of the Kingdom.  Lots of folks now believe that even though Blair may has done very well overall for Britain over the years, he is going to be remembered solely for the Iraq debacle. Specifically, many in the Labour Party have wanted Tony to step down for a while now, so as to distance the Party from the Middle Eastern mess—especially since Labour has been losing support, and seats, for the last year.  And that’s too bad, because under Tony’s tutelage the UK has done quite well economically, socially, and internationally. Blair, and Brown, have helped more often than hindered in places like Africa, China, India, et al.  But who is this Brown fellow?

Gordon Brown: the dumpy smart guy.Gordon Brown aka ‘Brown Sugar’ is the long-serving Chancellor of the Exchequer in the UK—the guy who holds the purse strings of the government.  He has served in this role under Tony Blair for the last decade—in fact these guys were buddies even before they achieved the top spots of UK leadership.  And Brown has another distinction: he has dominated the domestic political agenda like no one before him.  Brown is the one largely responsible for the economic success of the country today—and he is the shoe-in to become the next Prime Minister!

Kind of dumpy, plainly dressed, goofy hair, toothy grin: he is the exact opposite of the glibly slick and TV-ready Blair.  But old Gordon is much more of a thinker than Tony, as evidenced by the financial state and competitiveness of the UK, and as such may be much more elusive when it comes to staunchly supporting the US.  The Plaid Avenger predicts that the British lapdog is soon to be jumping off the trousers of Uncle Sam—the puppy is not going to leave the house, mind you, it’s just not going to be on the lap.  Brown is reserved and plays his cards close to the chest, and while is has publicly supported the US, the Bushies, and the War on Terror, I believe he is now going to be trying to associate the ‘Iraq-capades’ distinctly with Blair.  He is not going to abandon the US, but will draw a distinct line with the Iraq War deal making it very clear what his government will and will not do in the future—and increasing troops is NOT going to be on the table for discussion. Ever.

So know this:  Brown knows that his buddy Blair and his Labour Party have taken a rap for their lapdog role, and he is getting ready to reign in the leash.  Just at a time when the Frenchies may be more accommodating to the US-led role in the war (remember, they just elected a conservative president—Sarkozy).  How bizarre is that?

Maybe Tony can now join me for that pub crawl since he’s got nothing better to do.  British Real Ale—can you get anything real-er than that? Look it up my Plaid friends!  It’s the good shit!

Real Ale and kidney pie!



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Issue 2: Battle For Burma

Well, the battle for the heart and soul of this country is on, but no one outside Burma seems to be able to do a damn thing about it! Why not?

click to profile Moon Jae-in Moon Jae-in President
click to profile Emmanuel Macron Emmanuel Macron President
click to profile António Guterres António Guterres Secretary-General
click to profile Bill English Bill English Prime Minister
click to profile Qamar Bajwa Qamar Bajwa Chief of Army Staff
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click to profile Rex Tillerson Rex Tillerson Secretary of State
click to profile Michael Pence Michael Pence Vice President
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click to profile General Prayut Chan-o-cha General Prayut Chan-o-cha Prime Minister
click to profile Rodrigo Duterte Rodrigo Duterte President
click to profile Ashraf Ghani Ashraf Ghani President
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click to profile Justin Trudeau Justin Trudeau Prime Minister
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click to profile Ashton Carter Ashton Carter Secretary of Defense
click to profile Joko Widodo Joko Widodo President
click to profile Leung Chun-ying Leung Chun-ying Chief Executive
click to profile Sheikh Hasina Sheikh Hasina Prime Minister
click to profile Raheel Sharif Raheel Sharif Chief of Army Staff
click to profile Juan Carlos Varela Juan Carlos Varela President
click to profile Sergei Lavrov Sergei Lavrov Foreign Affairs Minister
click to profile Narendra Modi Narendra Modi Prime Minister
click to profile Matteo Renzi Matteo Renzi Prime Minister
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