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And its about time too dammit! What a bunch of goobers the EU members have become on the topic of Turkey joining their club. Turkey has been a staunch ally of ‘the West’ since WWII, was one of the original inductees into NATO over 50 years ago, and has been petitioning to join the EU for over 40 years! 40 damn years? Yep, for 40 damn years the Europeans have kept Turkey waiting at the alter; always a EU bridesmaid, never an EU bride. Turkey has sat on the sidelines while virtually all of Eastern Europe has joined the block, with Romania and Bulgaria being the most recent inductees last year.
What? You mean they let the down-and-out, broke-ass, former Soviet satellite states into the EU before their NATO ally Turkey? Yep. What a crock of shit.
Full-fledged entry talks for Turkey started in earnest in 2005, but as of 6 months ago the proposal was dead in the water again because the two sides could not agree on a whole host of issues, a main one being that the EU demanded Turkey open up trade with Cyprus: a long-standing hot button issue that I won’t go into right now. But the Turks seemed to have had enough of demand after demand after demand that the EU has thrown at it, year after year after decade after decade…so they stopped negotiations last year. But the game is back afoot:
EU to re-start talks with Turkey
I just wanted to talk about why this whole fiasco has happened. While EU entry has long enjoyed popular support by most Turks, the Europeans have been grinding them down, and as a result public opinion of the EU is growing more dismal by the day. Many Turks refer to the EU as the CU…which stands for the ‘Christian Union’…and the Plaid Avenger does believe that there is something to this interpretation.
Europe was the cradle of Christianity. Not the birthplace, but the cradle for its growth into a worldwide phenomenon. Europe is still a Christian dominated culture. The EU is overwhelmingly Christian. In fact, I had an excellent German historian point out the fact that the original members of the EU covered the exact same area of Europe once held by the Carolingian Empire under Charlemagne…an entity dubbed ‘The Holy Roman Empire’. He suggested that this new European group was simply falling back on its old religious roots…..hmmmmm….interesting how looking back helps you understand what’s ahead. But I digress.
Europe is Christian. Turkey is not. There are those in Europe that would argue that Turkey, being an overwhelmingly Muslim country, simply won’t ‘fit’ in well with European values and principles. The Plaid Avenger thinks that is a load of shit. But some EU members will continue to shovel it.
Turkey is a modern country for the most part. Turkey is a democracy. Turkey is in the NATO defense network. Turkey helped in small part win WWII. Turkey in greater part helped win the Cold War. Turkey in a very large part helped the US win the Gulf War: Part Uno. But somehow these guys aren’t going to be able to get along with the Europeans? Ha! The very Europeans they helped protect as a NATO member? What a joke!
So Plaid, what’s the real deal? I’m glad you asked. There is concern among many EU states that including a Muslim nation is going to increase the flow of Muslim people into the EU which may perpetuate a clash of cultures (look to cultural problems in France right now for your best examples of this). Some argue this increased flow of Muslims might also include a modicum of Muslim people who might be terrorists–thus it’s a security issue. There are other folks that think Turkey is too big with too many people and would wield too much power in the EU. Others think they are too poor and would be a strain on the EU. Still others fear an inflow of Turks that are going to ‘take my job!’
What the fuck ever.
Turkey deserves better. And as a moderate voice of Islam, as the only true Islamic democracy, and as a continued staunch ally of ‘the West’, the EU OUGHT to be kissing Turkey‘s ass! Does Europe really want to be in a position of pissing off Turkey and having them turn around and embrace the Middle East? Or Russia? Or China? Wake up EU goobers!
And know this world watchers: the US is not happy about the European foot-dragging. The US would very much like to keep Turkey in the western camp. Watch for US pressure to mount on the side of the Turks in future stories about the EU.
Party in Plaid.
Pay attention world watchers! Today’s under-rated story involves two titans teaming up for a tour promoting trade:
Hu heads to Russia to boost trade
Chinese leader starts Russian tour
Russia‘s Vlad ‘the man’ Putin of Russia is hosting Chinese President Hu Jintao for a three-day tour which will certainly revolve around increasing economic links between the two countries. The titanic two largest territories of Asia talking trade! And what kind of trade in particular? Guns and gas! Guns and gas! Guns and gas!
China has become the largest purchaser of Russian weaponry in the last decade. Guns, tanks, missiles, you name it. Those Ruskies were always good at building that shit! Of course, this upsets the US because they feel threatened by the growth of Chinese military power, and perhaps more upset because they’re not buying the death toys from us. Missile-envy can be a bitch. But this issue is of lesser consequence for me right now. The other commodity is of more strategic importance.
As you well know, China already produces every damn manufactured trinket and textile on the planet, so they are selling loads of that shit to Russia—and of course they are selling way more of that shit to the US too. But what does Russia have for sale that China needs? First and foremost: fuel. Oil and natural gas to be precise. Russia has shit-tons of the stuff in reserve, and these fossil fuels are almost solely responsible for Russia economic growth out of the gutter for the last decade. As China continues to expand, they need more fuel to keep the ball rolling, and Russia has it!
Why is this important for understanding your Plaid Planet? Russia is re-gaining its position as a world power player precisely because they are positioning themselves as the energy broker for the whole damn Eurasian continent. Russia already supplies the EU (European Union) with the majority of their fossil fuel needs: a fact which has many folks in Europe a bit worried. They are heavily reliant on Russia for energy, which puts Russia in a position of bargaining power, and perhaps outright political power if something crazy like a oil embargo were to occur out of the Middle East (Yeah, I know how crazy is that idea? That would never ever ever happen would it? Oops: look into 1973 oil embargo)
And now let’s make you smarter: the Plaid Avenger knows how this shit is going down in real life man! Vlad ‘the Man’ Putin is all about strengthening ties with China, specifically by selling them more fuel. Do you see the position this puts Russia in? Vlad sure does! If Russia gets the Chinese addicted to their gas and oil, just like Europe already is, then Russia is essentially the pimp daddy for all the energy-whores of Eurasia. They will literally be making money coming and going, on both sides of the continent. Which means they can pit consumers against each other in a bidding war and, much more importantly, can use this energy addiction as a source of political capital across the continent.
What do I mean by this? What happens if the China pisses off Russia? They can choose to sell more oil to the EU for cheaper. What happens if the EU or a single European country pisses off Russia? They could turn the oil spigots completely off– By the way, that actually already occurred last winter in Belarus. Lesson: Don’t piss off the bear!
Man, everybody will be kissing Russian ass…just to get that Russian gas.
Hmmmmm…me thinks a fossil fuel rhyme just occurred.
The Plaid Avenger has struck again!
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!
Well Plaid friends, this is a first attempt at a blog for me, so here goes. If you are interested in the hot news stories of the day, with a bit of inside analysis and background to make you smarter….then you have come to the right place. The Plaid Avenger strikes!
Top Plaid story of the day: Robert Mugabe is a serious asshole. Out of Harare, Zimbabwe, the Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe has once again promised the world that he will survive in office forever and ever, no matter what ‘the West’, the African Union, or even the people of his own country do to get rid of him. Wow. What a testament to controlled use of power and democratic principles. And all while his country is being completely flushed down the shit-pipes. Thus: he is a serious asshole.
Some background: this dude actually used to be a good guy! He led the struggle for independence of his country from colonial power over three decades ago. And they did it. He was a hero. As such, he was elected president: a post which he has now held for 27 years. And that is where the problem arises. Mugabe is the best living example of one of Africa’s most pressing problems: corruption that power brings. So many of Africa’s presidents are popularly elected, and then find the power so intoxicating that they cannot bring themselves to relinquish it when the time comes for another election. Most of the longest ruling ‘presidents’ in the world are out of Africa; many have ruled for decades, and several like Mugabe, are continuing to increase their records as every day passes. No matter how destructive their rule may be to the folks in their country. The true mark of an asshole.
So why the hullabaloo? Why is this even in the news, and why does the UK, the US and possibly the wider world even care about this country? Well, Zimbabwe was trucking along at a pretty good clip for the last couple of decades…it was even a model for positive growth in Sub-Saharan Africa for a while. Then for various reasons, Mugabe’s popularity started to slip a bit, and other political parties started more aggressively to challenge his long-standing leadership. As a counter move, about three years ago Mugabe thought of a brilliant plan to re-gain his popularity: to take land and possessions from the white minority and give them to the black majority. A genius ‘populist’ strategy. And if those whities accidentally get beaten or killed during the process, oh well! This caused widespread violence, which caused domestic turmoil, which caused an economic breakdown, which caused international investors to haul ass out of the country. It also caused international outcry which led to an international embargo and sanctions against the country. And now you know why they are poor…and getting poorer by the day.
Now the Plaid Avenger is not going to debate whether these policies were good, fair, or just ways to combat African poverty. Quite frankly I don’t know. But what I do know is that when any state leader advocates and allows–and even encourages–violence against a minority, it is never a good thing. Never. Ever. Did you hear me say never? It never works out well.
So as international criticism against this guy has grown, what has he done to prove them wrong? Well, he has continued to solidify his hold on power constitutionally. He has helped thwart and discredit all other political opposition. He has destroyed the independent press. He has jailed opposition leaders, and then they mysteriously get the shit kicked out of them while they are in jail (that was just reported on last week). Starting to get the picture here? Mugabe has become the ‘African voice that hates the West’, which routinely gets him visits from folks like Hugo Chavez et al. President Mugabe denounces ‘the West’ as trying to reestablish colonial rule, as well as blaming them for the impoverished state of his own country. And today he said: “Nothing frightens me, not even little fellows like Bush and Blair. I have seen it all, I don’t fear any suffering or a struggle of any kind.”
Great Robert! Your people are starving to death, and you are berating all world leaders who disagree with your actions. What a brave, bold voice for Africa you are! But I guess its not hard to be bold and brave when you live in a big palace and never want for hunger or security or hookers or whatever the hell else you want. Too bad most Zimbabweans don’t even have enough to eat. Must be nice to be so well off. What an asshole.
Is the Plaid Avenger suggesting that the US and the UK are totally right, and that Mugabe is totally wrong about all their disagreements? Of course not. As with everything, the truth about most issues lies somewhere between the loudest voices. But the Plaid Avenger fights for global justice, and Zimbabwe is in dire need of some. Any world leader, from any state, has to put the good of the people first. And ESPECIALLY in a state that is supposed to be democratic! People first dude! When you have 1700% inflation in your state, and people are fleeing from the country, and most people are hungry–you have to change your tune man! That shit just ain’t right. The Plaid Avenger always gets pissed when the suffering of people is accepted just so damn world leaders can save face. Or save themselves from losing their palaces and riches. Corruption of power is a blight anywhere it happens, but is accentuating more when so many folks in the country are suffering so much.
President Mugabe, why is it you are holding on to power? Is it because you truly believe you can save your country? Or is it because you truly just want to save yourself? If it is the former, then how do you foresee pulling your country out of this mess? What is your plan? If it is simply the latter: then you are an asshole.
So that’s the rant for the day. Disagree with me? Fine. Post me a message. Agree with me? Post and send a letter to your Senator too. Want to know more? Send a message.
-The Plaid Avenger
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