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It’s good to know who is Hu, but please know when to say Wen!

Wen: Kicking ass and taking names!Hello Plaid friends! Just got back from Beijing where I was being fitted for some custom-made plaid boxer-briefs.  You can’t get that kind of high quality shit here in the states, and when the measurements are taken by a team of Chinese hotties…well, let’s just say “me love China long time!”  And my Plaid brothers, let me give you a small piece of advice: boxer-briefs.  Not boxers. Not briefs. But boxer-briefs.  Ask any lady—they totally dig the boxer-briefs.  And in plaid? Watch out! You will be irresistible!

Anyway, after the marathon boxer-brief bonanza, I bumped into a bodacious brother that I feel all worldy-wise people should know about—Wen Jiabao. Who is the man in China? Yes, Hu is the man in China! But you need to know the Hu, what, where and Wen of China, and Wen is the subject of this rant. Wen? Now!

Premier Wen visits Japan

China ‘wants better Japan ties’

Chinese PM announces Ghana loan

China gives Cambodia $600m in aid

China PM lauds India agreements

Wen Jiabao is China’s Premier/Prime Minister, and easily one of the hardest working cats on the foreign relations front from anywhere on the damn Plaid planet. This guy is a serious Chinese ‘Johnny Hustle’ man!  He has been busting his ass for years touring the globe and wringing hands and striking deals from Brazil to Sudan to India to Australia.  Back the fuck up my friends, don’t get in this guy’s way, ‘cause he means business–literally!

The US Secretary of State Condelezza Rice is usually out touring middle eastern hotspots and old Cold War allies trying to put a positive spin on the current administrations debacles. Meanwhile, Wen Jiabao has been hitting every singe region and state on the planet cutting business, trade, and energy deals.  He also has been cementing strategic alliances, offering up aid and incentive packages for developing countries, and even firming up ties with old enemies (see story above on Japan). 

The contrast could not be more striking that that between Rice and Wen: when Rice shows up on scene, it’s usually to scowls and harsh questions; when Wen is in house, its usually all smiles!

As you are reading this, right this second, Wen is in Japan addressing the Japanese Diet.  No, he’s not talking about sushi and sake; the Diet is the equivalent of the US Congress—and he is the first Chinese Prime Minister to ever be invited to it for decades.  And what’s he talking about?  How China wants to firm up ties with their historic arch-enemy Japan…and the first thing he brings up is Japanese war atrocities during WWII!  Man, this guy’s got balls! 

And he commands respect too.  Some in Japan will condemn his remarks, but the current Japanese leadership (Shinzo Abe in particular) are going to continue to strengthen their relationship with Wen, Hu, and China in general.  He also is extremely adept at finding new friends in Latin America, in Africa, in the Middle East, and South Asia as well.  This dude has been everywhere in the last several years!  Simultaneously, the US admin’s main leaders have gone virtually nowhere…which is one of the reasons that so many places are finding it very easy to cozy up to China.  Latin America and Africa in particular are establishing all kinds of trade links and relationships with China…a situation which is perturbing the US greatly.

But how can you blame these regions/countries from hooking up with China? China‘s economy is exploding; China needs the raw materials and energy resources that many developing countries have to offer; China often offers no-strings-attached financial aid to developing countries; and China is seen as a growing world political power with increasing clout, but not as an imperial power which invades other countries.  Hmmmm…..who in the world would be seen in that light?

Wen has been cultivating these relationships all over the planet, courting countries large and small.  And with great success.  The fact that he is in office for life—or until the Chinese leadership wants him to go away—means that he will be active on the world stage for some time to come.  So know Wen, and know Wen well.

Premier Wen is the nizzle, the whizzle, the Chinese fra-schizzle!!!

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Iraq, my ass! Afghanistan is ablaze!

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. 

Bush:

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.

Party on

-PA

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Iranian President: “Please, please somebody bomb us!”

Bomb us! Please! How many more reasons must I give?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.

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Speaker in Syria is Serious Shit

Pelosi pulls plug: foreign policy genie out of bottle!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?

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The Yellow Man on the Red Planet?

Do they deliver General's Chicken up here?Greetings world watchers!  Sorry for the weekend hiatus, but the Plaid Avenger was in Ho Chi Minh City getting fitted for a retro Battle of Dien Bien Phu plaid jumpsuit.  Oh…the good old days, out fighting the Frenchies in the jungles of Indochina…. Oops, I have once again digressed.  Let’s get back to some under-reported news stories of great impact to your future.  And I’m not even going to stay on the planet for this rant, because its all about space!

Russia, China aim for Red Planet

Russia is world leader in space launches

China’s new space program unveiled

Dudes! Dudettes!  This is some serious shit going down, and it is barely even reported on in the US!  Last week we talked about how Hu visited Putin to talk trade, especially in fuel and weapons, but apparently these countries are getting even cozier on a whole host of issues.  Like going to Mars.  Wtf? Yeah, Mars, man…like that planet no one has stepped on yet.  Development of space programs is a real biggie, for several different reasons.  Let’s look at them, shall we?

Russia was/is a leader of space exploration, including related technologies.  Russia would like to continue to regain its status as a serious global power.  Russia also needs investment. 

China is THE up-and-coming world power.  China wants to continue to make gains in its status as a major world power.  China has shitloads of capital to invest.

Are you starting to see this match made in heaven?  Ahhh yesss, most honorable ancestors; we shall have kick-ass space rockets!

Further development of the Chinese Space program, in cahoots with the Russian program, is a serious win-win for these two countries.  Russia gains investment. China gains access.  Both gain technological advancement.  But most importantly: Both gain world status.  How?  Please consider my plaid friends, that the ‘Space Club’ is the most exclusive entity on earth—only US, Russia, and now China have put humans in space.  And China in particular wants to be in all the coolest clubs it can get in—it’s a status thing.  It’s why China wants to host the Olympics, and the Miss World pageant, or whatever else they are up to.  Having a space program is simultaneously a political, economic, technological, and cultural statement: It says ‘we are at the top: we have the capital, the technology, the drive, and the will to go where no man has gone before.’

Or was that Captain Kirk? Did you ever see that episode where Kirk bitch-slaps Dr. Spock?  No wonder Bones McCoy was driven to drink…

Future site of Kung-Pow PalacePerhaps you are now wondering why the Plaid Avenger even cares. How is a Russian/Chinese space venture of importance to us?  Here’s how: China has plans to visit the moon.  Only the US has pulled that one off.  With talk of Mars missions, this whole space exploration gig appears to be dawning into a new age.  China has already floated the idea of a moon colony too.  And what’s that old saying…oh, yes: possession is 9/10 of the law.  Meaning: whoever is sitting on it can claim it.  Perhaps your kids or grandkids will be visiting a moon hotel on their summer vacation…and it most likely will be owned by a Hong Kong syndicate.

How do you think the US will respond to all these developments?  Just sit on the sidelines?  Oh, hell no!  I cannot predict future events with exactness, but you can take this premonition to the bank: THE NEW SPACE RACE HAS BEGUN!  Right now! In our age!  Competition is a hell of a thing, especially between two or three rich world powers.  Why do you think the US went to the moon in the first place?  Answer: just to beat the Russians to the punch.  And I believe that with recent space initiatives—by the Chinese, the Russians, the Japanese and the EU—that the US is going to soon explode back onto the scene for a moon base, a Mars base, and what the hell ever else that China may be planning. 

And here is the Plaid inside scoop: even if a lot of forward thinkers and scientists don’t push for a moon base, ultra-conservative military hawk types will. How hilarious!  There will be voices of concern raised at the DoD that if China has a moon base, then they could have missiles on that moon base, which means we must have a moon base, so we can have missiles to counter their missiles on the moon base. Hahahaha…its all so delightfully corny, except for the fact that it will probably unfold in exactly this manner.  (Go watch Dr. Strangelove for an exact depiction of how this will happen.)  Consider the worldwide investment and political discourse occurring already concerning the ‘missile defense shield’.  How much more attention will a ‘moon defense’ get?

Bottom line: We are just out of the starting blocks, but the next space race is ON. China, with Russia‘s help, is going to explode onto the space exploration scene with a vengeance.  Japan is already stepping up their program.  The EU too.  Look for announcements from NASA in the coming year that we will have a moon colony in the works.  And if you have some capital lying around that you want to invest for your kids and grandkids: look to companies in aerospace industries and technologies.  They will be blowing up: financially, figuratively, and literally.

Danger Will Robinson! Danger! The Chinese are going to the moon!

Hmmmm…..do they make plaid astronaut gear?  That would be stylish…

-PA

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