The Plaid Avenger

Plaidcast  |  European Eurasia

So long, Santa!!! Russia’s Reasons for Arctic Antics

Greetings from the Pole!Top of the morning to you my plaid friends, from the top of the globe!  The Avenger has touched down here at the North Pole to update you on a situation that has massive repercussions in the immediate, and long term, future of international relations.  I just put the sled dogs down to rest (no, not Michael Vick-style; they are actually sleeping!), and I’m topping of my vodka martini here at the top of the planet while my manservant builds us an igloo to bed down in.  Actually, she’s a fine Inuit lady, so I suppose the proper terminology is wo-manservant.  But I digress as always. 

Why would the Avenger be so far north setting up camp on the rapidly diminishing permanent ice cap? Why to inform you of big changes that are afoot of course! Big changes for the Arctic inhabitants; big changes for the US; big changes for the Canadians, the Norwegians, and the Danes…hell, its big changes for the world man! But this rant is primarily about big changes for the Russians….Chill on these:

A new race for the North Pole: Russia plants flag, Canada sends troops

Race to Secure Arctic Riches Heats Up

Lenin stands tall in Russian race for the Arctic

Arctic ice retreats to new low, possibly opening Northwest Passage

Russia might introduce new oil export routes in Arctic***IMPORTANT***

Russia’s Arctic Firing Range

So unless you’ve been hiding under a rock for the last few years, all of you have heard about this global warming thing.  Yes, average global temperatures do seem to be on the rise. Now this blog is not about confirming or disputing the existence if this phenomenon, or about the science behind this phenomenon, or even about the causes of this phenomenon…what the Plaid Avenger wants you to know about for now are the very real, and unfolding quickly, international repercussions of this phenomenon around the Arctic Circle.  Have I said phenomenon enough times for you yet? Its just such a phenomenal word, I can’t help myself. Phenomena are phenomenal! Ha!  Oops, sorry for the transgression.  I always get a bit light headed while heavily drinking at high latitudes….and I’m dead on at 90° North my friends.  But back to the warming…

Now no one really knows what the hell these rising global temperatures will mean across the planet. Some places will get warmer, some will probably get drier, some will get wetter, & different weather patterns and different storm patterns will evolve.  Lots of shit will be changing in lots of different places.  But one thing is for absolute sure, because it’s happening fast already: parts of the permanent ice cap that have covered the Arctic region for as long as humans have been around are going to go away. And it’s going to go away very soon. Like maybe totally gone in the next 50 years.  That is big news. Big news that has bigger repercussions for international politics. And maybe the biggest repercussions are for Russia.  What am I talking about? Just this:

As the permanent ice cover rapidly melts away in the coming decades, two distinct things are going to happen: 1)untold amounts of natural resources like oil and natural gas are going to be discovered in the area, and 2) global transportation patterns are going to be radically affected.  The resources issue is the one that everyone and their brother is focusing on right now…and is being wildly overplayed in the press. The transportation issue is the one that is vastly more important and has way more strategic importance than a bunch of damn oil ever will.  And Russia stands to gain tremendously from both of these things, perhaps the most of any player in this Arctic power play.  The Bear’s potential gains are affecting their current Arctic antics, as we discussed in yesterday’s blog. But let’s back up and take these issues one at a time:

1)The natural resources thing: this is the easy part. According to the US Geological Survey, perhaps up to 25% of the world’s undiscovered oil and gas is thought to lie under the Arctic seabed. Why is it undiscovered? Because there’s too much damned ice in the way to get to it right now! So the basic equation for the future is: Goodbye ice; Hello oil!

Tell'em UN!Can you dig that? Speaking of dig, a bunch of countries will be digging for this oil as soon as they can.  Who are the lucky contestants for the Arctic Resource Rush? Five countries border the Arctic Ocean: Canada, Denmark, Norway, Russia and the US.  The UN ‘Law of the Sea’ (which all countries agree and adhere  to) allows governments an exclusive economic zone of up to 200 nautical miles from their shores in which all the shit in it is theirs. But if you want more than that, then each country has to make a case that land further out is geologically/scientifically connected to their continental shelf, which is the underwater land that slopes down from the countries’ coasts. If a country can prove such a claim, then they get title to all the shit in that zone as well.  And of course the shit we are talking about here is not walrus shit….its energy resources man! Big business!

Arctic territorial boundaries, soon to be expanded.

And that is precisely what is currently happening in the Arctic. It’s why Russia sent a submarine to plant their flag underneath the North Pole and to collect geologic samples. They are trying to prove a claim to a vast area of the Arctic Ocean that may have oil and shit in it.  See map. And they are not alone either. Canada and Denmark have been sending up crews as well to scope things out. (FYI: Denmark is involved because they ‘own’ Greenland, which gives them some serious Arctic shoreline too.) Not to be outdone, the US has pretty much preemptively declared the whole fucking Arctic as belonging to them. Ha! Well, why not? They’ve had so much success with their other preemptive actions around the globe! Ouch! That stings!

So the scramble for the Arctic is on, prompted by the allure of riches.  Kind of like the ‘Gold Rush’ was to California. Countries are laying claims, and governments will be squabbling with each other at the UN, and all kinds of research and military maneuvers are soon to be conducted up at the top of the world. Whoops. Did I say military maneuvers? Damn I’m good.  ‘Cause the Russians have already started that too. But let’s get to the number 2 issue before we bump back into the Russian military…

2)The changes to global transportation thing: This is the real deal. Now, vast oil reserves may be discovered in the Arctic, and some countries may get rich with it, and those resources may affect lots of aspects of our world, please keep this in mind: loss of Arctic ice WILL change the world radically. And it WILL happen. So what’s going to happen Plaid?

Shipping routes are going to be radically altered. Check out a globe sometime. A real globe…you know, those basketball shaped things with the continents on them.  Seriously, get one. See if you can figure out the shortest route from California to England.  How about from China to Florida. How about from Italy to Japan. Are you getting the picture? All those trips are significantly shorter going through the Arctic Ocean—but not yet! We have to wait for the ice to melt first.  When it does, the pattern of international shipping will be transformed immensely.  Please keep in mind that 99% of all the goods you will ever buy were transported to your country via a ship. If there were to be a worldwide freeze on international ocean shipping, your Wal-mart shelves would be completely empty within a week! How do you think they get all that cheap shit from China to your hometown, and still keep it so cheap? Oceanic shipping is big business.  But that’s just the start…

There are also vast areas of the planet that are pretty much ‘disconnected’ from the global economy because they are completely land-locked (no ocean access) or because their physical geography makes it too costly to transport goods (i.e. it costs too much to transport stuff over mountains or over extremely long distance on land.) Need some examples of such places? Look no further than Canada and Russia: currently vast, cold as shit lands with few people and fewer economic opportunities. Think Siberia.  But wait! Global warming to the rescue! As these areas warm up and thaw out, all kinds of shit is going to change. We’ll beat down the Canadians in a different forum, but to finish this blog, let’s just consider Russia.  Look at this map below:

Useless damn Russian rivers….for now…

Which way do all the Russian rivers flow? If you said ‘north’: nice job! You can read! But seriously, consider this: all of those rivers flowing north to the ice-locked Arctic Ocean have served to seriously hamper the Russian economy for centuries. Those rivers are useless for economic transport. That northern coastline is useless for port towns, and double useless to establish a serious naval power. Result: the vast innards of Russia are inaccessible, and Russia has never established itself as a premier naval power or economic exporter.

And now: WHAM! Goodbye ice, Hello New Russia! This shit is going to blow up man! With the warming of temperatures and the elimination of Arctic ice cover, all of Russia‘s rivers may become navigable, therefore opening the interior of the Asian continent as it has never been before.  More open and accessible than any time in all of human history! Look for movements of people, creations of towns and cities, and a whole new economic outlook for Siberia as well as those Central Asian countries which will suddenly have a lot more global trade access. It is crazy! The same will be true for Canada, but the Russian experience will be exponentially bigger.

And now I can finish this rant by tying into the story we started yesterday…remember? I told you there were 3 reasons that the Russians were ramping their military back up.  And here it is: #3 the Russians are becoming a lot more militarily active, specifically in the Arctic, in preparation to ‘claim’ this vast area as part of their strategic territory.  Dudes! Am I good or what? Seriously, look at what those rascally Ruskies have been doing: sending subs into Arctic territory, planting flags in Arctic territory, but most importantly, re-starting their bomber patrols in Arctic territory. Oh shit, I almost forgot, they just did this too:

Russian bombers to fire cruise missiles over Arctic

Damn! Firing practice missiles too! They certainly are busy up there.  The Plaid Avenger is convinced that the Russian’s primary pursuit in their Arctic Russian land grab…or is it ice grab?pursuits is to establish an ‘Arctic presence’ which will turn into an ‘Arctic occupation’.  Hell, if you are there, and no one else is there, and you know no one has legitimate title to the land…then don’t you pretty much own it? That is, until someone comes and physically kicks you off of it.  And who the hell is going to start a damn land war with the Ruskies on a godforsaken chunk of ice out in the middle of nowhere? Answer: not many, if any!  It’s kind of like the moon: we can have a million and one diplomatic treaties concerning who owns the moon, but whoever is actually up there sitting on it (in their moon base) effectively can do anything they want. Right?

Possession is 9/10ths of the law—meaning that if you have it in your hands, or effectively control it, than it’s pretty much yours.  Can you dig that? The Ruskies sure do!  Dudes! They probably are as giddy as a pack of school girls on a Sunday picnic about this whole global warming thing! They will finally have shit-tons of navigable coastlines. They will finally get to become a serious naval power, especially since they have so much extra cash laying around that they’ve made off of oil sales. They will finally be able to easily access virtually all parts of their most inhospitable country. Finally!

Oh…I mean after the ice melts of course.

If the igloo is rockin', don't bother knockin'….My apologies on the long rant, but it appears that my Inuit wo-manservant Ieshiatia has finished the igloo and has mixed me a piping Hot Toddy.  I must get in there and attend to my Arctic business! It really is the only way to stay warm up here….

Bombs, Bombers, and Bad-Asses: the Bear is Back!

Welcome to the Putin GUN show! Damn! That dude is ripped!Salutations from Siberia my stylish plaid associates! The Plaid Avenger has headed due north out of Pakistan in the plaid jet after partying with my main man Musharraf, and am now in the vast arctic outback of central Russia on a dual mission… Duel mission? You think I am here to challenge Vladimir Putin in full-on, frontal fisticuffs? Oh, hell no! As you well know, no one should challenge that whack world leader one-on-one! He is a total bad ass!  And he’s got the guns to back up his words.  And now he’s got the bombs too…the ‘daddy of all bombs’ to be exact. I saw the be-yatch light up, and it was a doozie!

So I’m not here for a duel mission but for a dual mission, meaning I have two tasks to report on before I leave the frigid follies of this forsaken terra firma.  However, both timely topics are tied to each other…they are the repercussions of Russia’s recovered military might! Read this:

Russia tests ‘dad of all bombs’

Russia tests world’s most powerful vacuum bomb

Russia revives Soviet-era strategic bomber patrols

Russia resumes long-range air patrols

Old Russian strategic bombers continue to make news

Russian air patrols ‘a show of might’

Fears over Russian economic power

Finally! An enviromentally-friendly bomb!What the hell? Papa bombs and bomber patrols? What gives with all this stuff? I’m glad you asked my friends, so that now you can become smarter than the average bear…hmmmm….that is a great choice of words since we are dealing with the biggest baddest bear on the planet: the Russian Bear. And the Bear is back my friends, and with a brazen bear attitude!  But I get ahead of myself as always…let’s go back a bit…

The Bear has taken a bad beating in the last several decades. A beating so brutal that it was questionable if the Russians would ever bounce back from it. I am referring to the Soviet Era and the Cold War of course; a period which ended in total disaster and disarray for the Russians a mere 15 years ago when their whole political system and way of life completely collapsed. Read the textbook for details, but know this for now: by 1992 the USSR had crumbled into nothingness, the Russians had lost tons of territory, tons of resources, tons of people, and their economy totally sucked ass…but perhaps worst of all, they had lost the Cold War and lost their ‘super-power’ status. 

Dudes, these guys were totally in the toilet economically, socially, militarily, ideologically and they had no political clout whatsoever in the world.  Damn! That sounds harsh.  Well, its true, and the Russians knew it.  Its important to understand how screwed the place was in the early 1990’s, because it will help you make sense of the current upswing in national pride that is happening today, and how that nationalistic pride is manifesting itself into things which are affecting the entire globe.

Puitn: Baddest-Ass Current World Leader

So from Bear pain to Bear pride in the last decade.  How? No details needed here, just two words: Putin and petroleum.  Vlad ‘the man’ Putin is a extremely popular dude who has led this Russian turn-around. He is a stoic yet charismatic leader that has made it his mission to put Russia back on the map, and he has been done one hell of a bang-up job doing just that for almost 8 years now. He is viewed as physically strong, intelligent, savvy, tough on crime, an ardent nationalist, and a leader that is independent and confident enough to stand up to ‘the West’ and fight for the Russian right to party! Yes, he is the ‘Super-Russian’! Well, that’s what the Ruskies think anyway.  And how has he accomplished this super-fame and fortune? That would be due to the other P….the petroleum.

Russian energy abounds…Russia has vast reserves of petroleum and natural gas, and under Putin’s leadership has made mega-bucks exporting it to Europe, to China, and all points abroad.  Controlling these energy resources has helped Russia regain its footing as a world player in terms of political clout (i.e. most European countries are scared shitless to piss off Russia in any way, since the Bear provides so much of their energy needs), and of course all the bucks they make on sales has revived their economy. And I do mean mega-bucks. Enough bucks to get Russia out of debt. Enough bucks to store away for a rainy day. Enough bucks to revamp their economy. Enough bucks to revamp their military….oops! Let’s stop right there! That brings us back to our news stories!

At this point you should be connecting all the dots on your own…but since no major news organizations can seem to do it, I’ll elaborate more for their sake.  Russia has ‘been flexing its muscles’ as reported by most places, with many folks incorrectly assuming that this is a return to some sort of ‘Cold War’ mentality. The idea that Russia wants to return to the heyday of global confrontation and challenge the US to a nuke war seems preposterous to the Plaid, and is quite frankly a joke.  Russia may be doing a lot better, but they still have plenty of problems on their plate to keep them busy for a while.  So why the re-vamping of their military, the re-starting of the old Cold War bomber patrols, and the re-volutionary development of the biggest freakin’ bomb ever?

Watch out Europe! Putin's Gas could be Deadly!First and foremost: national pride. That’s an easy call. Again, consider where Russia was just ten years ago: a broke, down and out, former world power that no one gave a shit about.  Now that they have some jack to spend, what would possibly be a more natural avenue to regain your past glory than to beef up your military? All countries do it man! Hell, the US spends a mega-ton-shitload on military stuff ever year! Shit-fire, we put a damn human on the moon just to compete with the Ruskies! Military stuff is not just a base of power, but it’s also a base of pride for many folks the world over. Okay, except the Swiss…always the damned Swiss have to be an exception…but I digress.  Just know this: Russians are regaining their nationalistic pride with their strong leader making a militarily strong Russia. 

Hell, the Russians have always loved that military shit. (They have been, and still are, a major weapons dealer to the world.)  The only reason that they stopped expanding their military technologies and capacities in the first place was because they were totally freakin’ broke man! Now, they are not broke. And now, they are catching their military back up. Is that really a surprise to anyone? Does that really constitute a specific threat to anyone? I don’t think so….yet.

The second reason that the Russians are so keenly revamping their military is indeed strategic: they want to regain influence over their immediate neighbors, and appear strong enough to thwart any external invasion or internal dissent. Remember, as the center of the USSR, Russia had power over what is now Central Asia, the Caucus region, and Eastern Europe. Russia lost all that influence after the USSR collapsed, and worse yet, many of those countries have become NATO members…a move that the Bear has interpreted as ‘the West’ encroaching into their territory.

NATO: coming soon to Russian borders….

One need only consider a country like Estonia: a state with a direct border with Russia that once was a soviet satellite, and now is a NATO member…which means it is a country that used to have Russian missiles in it pointed at Europe, and now has NATO missiles in it pointing at Russia. Hmmm….can you start to see why Russia is ‘beefing up’ to discourage NATO growth? Personally, I don’t think NATO and ‘the West’ is any threat to Russia, but some of those Ruskies think otherwise. Or at least they just want to pretend to feel threatened so that they can project their power outwards again. Either way, same result. It should also be noted that Russia has been cozying up with China and the Central Asian states lately in an effort to form a ‘counter-weight’ to US/‘the West’ power on the planet. Look up the blog on the SCO if you are interested in more on the topic. But let’s finish this rant for now with one last thought…

And that last thought is a third–and by far the most interesting–reason behind the increase in military maneuvers by the Russians….and it’s one that only the Plaid Avenger will tell you about, because most haven’t figured it out yet.  But for that, I have to get on my plaid parka, feed the sled dogs, and prepare to head much further north. And you will have to tune in tomorrow to find out…

Mush! Mush bitches! Mush!

No Hangover from this Party: 6-Party Talks Actually Working!!!

Shit yeah! Let's get this party started!Sweetness! I love a good party….and I love a great party even more! And when the party is the 6-Party Talks, well, I think you know that the Avenger is going to be getting his drink on… times 6!  To understand the plaid world in which we all co-habitate in my friends, you really must know what, or who, or where, the 6-Party is.  And the party just got it going on over the last weekend, with some very interesting results.  In fact, I have been partying in Pyongyang playing power ping-pong while getting my drink on with a Chinese panda named Ling-Long! Ha! Top that on a Labor Day weekend! So what the hell is this Korean party all about? Check it: 

US Says North Korea to End Nuclear Program

No Form Date to Take North Korea Off Terror List

North Korea Close to Being Struck from Terror List

One Less on the Axis of Evil?

N Korea Asks to Leave Axis of Evil, Cites “Creative Differences” (this is satire, but its good!)

So who the hell gets the invite to the 6-Party? I’m glad you asked.  The sweet 6 are the US, China, North Korea, South Korea, Russia, and Japan.  And what’s the party all about? Just as easy to answer: the goal of the party is to find a peaceful resolution to the security concerns raised by North   Korea attempting to build a nuclear program.  Nuclear bombs specifically, which of course always worries anybody in the world that doesn’t want to get fucking blown up.  And especially the countries that are right next door to North Korea which would be the first to be targeted.  And quite frankly, everybody and their Asian brother is worried about North Korea getting anything close to a nuclear warhead, since their country is run by a complete fucking lunatic. 

Former UPS employee of the month, Kim Il-Jong the great…I mean the delusional/

Which lunatic? That would be Kim Jong-il.  The freak. Not to be too harsh on the guy, but I generally refer to him as the Michael Jackson of the Korean peninsula.  He lives in a palace while his people starve to death, but is surrounded by military whackos and court jesters who tell him he’s a god and that everybody loves him.  Shit, the dude is totally clueless about reality….much like Jackson, he is just living in his isolated Neverland Ranch, propped up by admirers that tell him everything is great.  Unfortunately, Kim il-Jong’s ‘ranch’ happens to be a country, and he happens to be the head of it.  And Michael Jackson’s nose is real.  Just like his skin.  Yeah right. Fucking freaks the both of them.  But I digress as usual…

So the US, Russia, Japan, South Korea, and even China are not really keen on this goober or any of his military advisers acquiring nuclear weapons.  So much so that all the countries have been working in earnest for years to get this group of freaks to relinquish development of their nuclear program, pull their heads out of their asses, and join the rest of the real world.  The US has been so insistent about it that they put North Korea in their famous ‘Axis of Evil’ category along with Iraq and Iran.

'Axis of Evil' dissapating fast! Get your action figures soon!Of course Iraq is now off the list since its occupied by the US…. oh, and no weapons were actually found anyway. And now folks around the world are debating about what to do to Iran and their nuclear program.  But there really has never been any debate about the North Korea situation: everyone thinks they are nuts and all surrounding countries just want them to knock off with the damn shenanigans!  Too bad whacko North Korea! You are on your own! Not even China wants to put their neck out for those freaks.

And apparently that’s why the 6-Party talks are working. Everyone has been putting the heat on the Koreans to dismantle their nuclear program.  And it looks like it worked! The stories above reference that just last weekend the North Korean regime has agreed to not only stop production of nuclear materials, but to completely dismantle their program by the end of the year! Damn! That’s big news! But why would they nutty Northerners agree to this at this particular time? Why not earlier? Or why agree at all?

Here’s why: they suck.  The North Korean economy is non-existent. The people are starving to death, and winter is fast approaching which will result in many more folks starving to death. North Korea just got the shit kicked out of them by major floods all summer.  Their already meager crops are going to suck ass this year.  People are trying to literally haul ass out of the country by the thousands—it has gotten so bad in the last year that the Chinese have posted troops all over their border with North Korea to stem the tide of immigrants trying to get the hell out of there.  Seriously, the place is a total joke. And everyone in the leadership is starting to realize that they can’t keep this total sham of a country afloat for much longer. 

Call in Michael Jackson! Maybe he can lull the North Korean masses into submission by singing ‘Beat It’ a million times! Shit, the whole damn place already looks like a scene from the fucking ‘Thriller’ video.  Dude! I would pay serious money to see Kim il-Jong do the moonwalk!

But anyway, North Korea can no longer afford to piss off all its neighbors, especially when all those neighbors [as well as the US] are going to be providing them with all sorts of food aid, fuel aid, and financial aid as incentive to give up the nukes.  And the Plaid Avenger has always been convinced that the quest for nukes by the North Koreans has been simply about having a card to play in international politics…in other words a leveraging tool for the world to take the North Koreans seriously.  Now that the North Korean position is a total joke and the country is nearing collapse, giving up the nukes appears to be the only face-saving device which allows Kim and his funky bunch to get international assistance while keeping their rule—and the entire country—intact.

You’ll notice from the stories above that as soon as the 6-Party ended on Sunday, the North Koreans ran out to the press and announced that the US was normalizing relations with them, and taking them off the ‘Axis of Evil’/terrorist list.  What a bunch of boneheads! The US immediately renounced that claim, and has instead said that they will be working towards patching up relations with the Koreans, and possibly taking them off the ‘terror list’ once the nuclear plants are actually totally dismantled.  Shit! Those whack-ass North Koreans can’t even keep the story strait for 5 damn minutes.

BUT! Whatever the story is, it is a promising turn of events for the US, South Korea, Japan, and the entire world. Promising for the North Koreans because they will undoubtedly get shit tons of aid, just when they need it most.  Perhaps they will actually give up all efforts to make nukes. Perhaps the US will take them off the terror list. Perhaps the Korean peninsula will start a re-unification process if this goober regime opens up a little. Perhaps Michael Jackson and Kim il-Jong will become fast friends…and then lovers…  Who knows what the rosy future holds?

And repercussions outside the Korean peninsula? There are plenty, but only one worth mentioning, and it’s a doozie! And its also in the news on the same day, which compounds its importance!  What the smell am I referring to?  I’m talking about Iran, and how the 6-Party is going to cause a huge fucking hangover for them, even though they weren’t invited to the crib!  Dig this:

Iran Meets Key Target in Nuclear Program

Long story short, just as North Korea is renouncing nukes, Iran is bragging that they are fast developing them.  Damn! Its like those guys are absolutely determined to piss off the world!  I’ll deal with the Iranian nuke program later, but know this for now: with North Korea out of the picture, the ‘Axis of Evil’ is fast turning into the ‘Axis of One’ aka ‘the Only Evil One Left’.  Iran was already getting plenty of attention for its nuclear activities; with North Korea going legit, all eyes of the world will now be sternly focused of what the hell Iran is now going to do.  Shit! IS is getting hot in here or what?

So know this my fine American friends: know what the 6-Party is all about; know the Kim-il really is pretty ill—in his head; know that North Korea is going straight and may rejoin the rest of us here on planet earth soon.  And know why this is turning up the heat on Iran….

Party in Plaid in Pyongyang!

She’s Merkel-licious! The Most Powerful Woman on the Plaid Planet!

I go berserk-el for the Merkel!!!

So delicious (It’s hot hot)
So delicious (she put them boys on rock rock)
So delicious (They want a slice of what she got)
She’s Merkel-licious (t-t-t-t-t tastey, tastey)

Merkel-licious def-, Merkel-licious def-, Merkel-licious def-
Merkel-licious definition make them boys go crazy
Them world leaders love her–they want to make her babies
That Chancellor of Hotness, and of Germany’s
She’s the M to the E, R, K the L the E
And can’t no other lady put it down like she…
She’s Merkel-licious

Hello again world watchers! The Plaid Avenger has bopped back to Berlin to meet up with his favorite female fraulein freedom fighter…and seemingly the baddest ass lady leader in the world: Angela Merkel, the Chancellor of Germany!  Damn, I love a woman in power!  And this lovely lady has got it going on: she’s not only the current leader of Germany, but has also just led the most recent meeting of the G-8, and is also the current leader of the EU, and is also the undisputed leader of the worldwide movement to lower carbon emissions in order to slow global warming.  And, and, and…this woman is all over the place! She is smokin’ on fire, busy as a bee, kickin’ ass and takin’ names global-style. Dig this:

The World’s 100 Most Powerful Women

Merkel to press China on Darfur

Merkel Pushes G-8 Climate Pledge in 5-Day Trip to China, Japan

Germany’s Merkel rated most popular midterm chancellor ever

The Stable Ms. Merkel

Merkel in lead role on G8 stage

Oh yeah baby! Let's get our drink on!And even though she’s a lady, Angela has got more balls than virtually any other world leader on the planet. Okay, I forgot about that the total Russian bad-ass Vladimir Putin…he’s got balls-a-plenty too—dudes! I’d like to see a cage match between those two world leaders! Wow, that would be insane! Or better yet, a drinking competition. A German versus a Russian in a drink-off! Holy shit, that might last for a week! But I digress as usual….let’s get back to the story….

Chancellor Angela Merkel is a world leader that I think you just absolutely have to get to know. She is one of those leader-types that is actually changing the entire world in which we live.  And she has tremendous clout on the world stage right now, which makes her even more powerful than merely a leader of a single country.  What the hell am I rambling about now?  Well, I’ll tell you…

AAAHHHH!!! Goober Alert!Politically, Angela Merkel is what you Americans would call on the conservative side of the spectrum.  Her German political party, the Christian Democratic Union, would be comparative to the Republican Party in the US.  As such, US President George Bush loves her sweet German ass!  Check out the photo spread below: it was taken at a 2006 G-8 summit when George tried to give Angela a shoulder massage during the meeting. Ha! She was mortified! How fucking hilarious is that shit! He is such a goober!

Mommy help! Inappropriate world leader touching!

Seriously though, Bush loves her! Angela’s predecessor was Chancellor Gerhard Schröder, and he was much more on the liberal side of the spectrum, much more like the Democrats in the US.  As such, Bush and Gerhard didn’t get along so well.  In fact, they hated each other. Under Schröder, Germany (along with France) were vehemently opposed to the US invasion of Iraq, and relations between the two countries sucked ass.  But since Angela’s arrival in November 2005, US/German relations have been downright peachy!  Well, except for that fucked up shoulder massage deal….

So the once soured relations between these two titans has significantly softened—remember, US has the #1 economy on the planet, Germany is #3.  Political and economic relations have both improved radically in the last year, with the US avidly supporting economic incentives within Germany, and vice-versa.  On top of that, the German economy under Merkel has been doing exceptionally well too. According to a recent poll, Merkel is the most popular Chancellor in post-war German history—I guess Hitler would still hold the top marks if you included the whole 20th century—oops!

Let's do it!But hold the phone! We’re not done yet, because Angela has been doing a whole lot more than just leading her country! She is also the current head of the European Council, which is kind of like a CEO board for the European Union.  The Council, like the EU, has a rotating leadership cycle, and Germany‘s ticket was called for this year.  So Ms. Merkel has also been extremely busy trying to strengthen the European Union—mostly by getting the EU constitution revamped and ready for member countries to vote on, and hopefully pass this time! The constitution got voted down last year, and the EU has been kind of floundering around every since.  We’ll do a blog on the EU soon, but just know this for now: Germany under Merkel is a huge fan of beefing up the Union and making it stronger and more centralized (kind of like a United States of Europe), while several other countries (most notably the UK) do not want a beefier EU. We shall see how that plays out later this year….

Whoa! You better back off my girl Bono!So are we done yet? Not hardly! Merkel’s Germany also just hosted the latest G-8 summit; a summit which consisted of the richest, industrialized, democratic nations on the planet.  And she let those guys have it too! Merkel is a staunch advocate of decreasing CO2 emissions in an effort to combat climate change, and as such was one of the creators of the Kyoto Protocol back in 1997 which called for all countries to set targets to decrease carbon crap output…you know: pollution. Many countries have been on-board for the idea, but what country do you think has outright refused to participate from the start? Yep…that’s right …the good ol’ US of A!  And that’s why I want you to know how important Angela is, because it looks as if her global push for this stuff is actually starting to win over the US too! (US turning around on global warming). It’s amazing! She is the global shizznit!

Damn! The lady is my hero! Drinking again in China with Wen!

To finish the rant: Merkel-licious has also been touring the globe, promoting trade relations with Germany of course, but also pushing her climate agenda, human rights stuff, European Union prerogatives, and even pressuring countries to step up against bullshit situations like the ones in Sudan, Iraq, and Afghanistan.  She has partied across Europe, the Middle East and is currently on an Asian tour. Damn! When does this chick sleep?

So know your Merkel. Know she is a very popular conservative leader of Germany. Know that she has improved relations with the US greatly. Know that she is the global leader in the fight for reduced CO2 shit.  Know that perhaps it is her political savvy combined with her more pro-US stance that has influenced the Americans to change their minds about the CO2 reduction shit.  Hmmmmm… you are smarter than your average bear! And I want to see Merkel in a plaid miniskirt…! Too hot too handle!

Return of Rochambeau: Don’t mess with Sarkozy the Shit-Kicker!!!

Sarkozy: French president and snappy dresserGreetings Globe Watchers!  Your plaid correspondent just touched down in Paris last nite to attend an affable assembly  of amicable ambassadors, all while absorbing vast amounts of Armagnac.  French ambassadors that is, drinking that fine-ass French brandy.  What the hell am I talking about?  I’m talking about a speech given by French President Nicolas Sarkozy to the entire French ambassador squad—it is Nick’s first big speech on France‘s new foreign policy since he took office back in May of this year. And it was a doozy!  Remember way back when, when most folks thought of the Frenchies as a bunch of wussies?  Oh wait, that was just yesterday….  But hold on folks! Today is a new day, and France has grown a huge set of balls overnite! Check this shit out:

Sarkozy: Iran’s nuclear plans could be “catastrophic”

Sarkozy calls for troop exit from Iraq

Sarkozy boosting French force in Afghanistan

Bush hosts Sarkozy, sans ‘freedom fries’

Talk about radical turn-arounds! What these stories all allude to is that President Nicolas Sarkozy is making a pretty big departure from standard French foreign policy of the last decade or two.  For those of you not in the know, here is the deal: France has typically played spoiler to US foreign policy in terms of either not supporting it, or outright opposing it. 

Like the current war in Iraq.  The Frenchies (under their former President Jacques Chirac) blocked all moves made by the US at the United Nations Security Council to make the Iraq invasion a UN-sanctioned or UN-legitimized war. They refused to support the US, which of course served to piss off the Bush administration and Americans in general—remember when the Congressional cafeteria changed the name of French fries to Freedom fries? Hahahaha what a fucking joke! But to be sure, many Americans still hate the French for their liberal ways and refusal to blindly support US tactics. Many Americans refuse to even drink French wine as part of their protest. Mmmmm…more for me to drink! But once again, I digress…

New bestest friends! B for Bush, S for Sarkozy…together its great BS!

But the times are a changing my friends! That was the old France, and Nicolas Sarkozy is the new—and much more pro-US—face of the Frenchies.  Check the stories above again.  He just came to the US and partied with George Bush last month!  And the whole damn Bush clan was there too!  They fed the poor bastard hot dogs and hamburgers and probably made him play whack-a-mole at the fucking county fair! How hilarious is that?  You can think of Sarkozy as the Bush of France if it helps you remember him—he is conservative, pro-business, and much more hawkish than any of his predecessors when it comes to foreign affairs.  Which brings us back to the brainstorm of this blog:

When it comes to foreign policy, President Sarkozy is a ballsy son of a bitch.  In his speech to the ambassadors today, he unleashed several major points which depart radically from the Chirac administration:


BIG BALLS POINT #1: Sarkozy still thinks the Iraq war was a mistake, and even has balls of steel enough to call for the US to start pulling out troops….BUT, he in the same breath stated that France was now ready to help the international community bring about a political solution to the situation. Damn! That’s new!

BIG BALLS POINT # 2: Sarkozy wants to increase French troops and support to Afghanistan. Damn! That is a huge boost to the US and NATO forces in general which have been begging the international community to do more in that fucked up country. When is the last time you heard about the French wanting to increase troops anywhere? Certainly not in World War II. George Bush must be beaming with pride, as is NATO…particularly since most of the other European NATO countries have been dragging their feet on the Afghan situation.  How can other countries not pony up if the French are going to? Damn, they will all have to save face now…

BIG BALLS POINT #3: Sarkozy basically totally agreed with current US foreign policy concerning IRAN.  He said that Iran is the biggest threat in the Middle East, and under no circumstances would he sit idly by while they acquired nuclear technology. Shit man, he went as far as to subtly suggest that Iran would be bombed before he let them get the bomb.  Damn! Balls-a-plenty! Iran is going to be pissed about that remark! But I’ll bet that George Bush and Dick Cheney cracked open a bottle of Jim Beam in the Oval Office to celebrate the Sarkozy speech.  Yee-Ha!  They got themselves an ally at last!

Long story short, know who Nick Sarkozy is. Know that he has an extremely similar world outlook as the Bush White House.  And know this: we are very likely to see the French being more pro-active on the world stage than they have been since they sent Lafayette over to the colonies to help kick some British ass.  We will see the Frenchies start to take a more central role in a lot of the world’s hotspots…be it in Africa, Iraq, Afghanistan, or even a drug-free Tour de France.

Sarkozy is going to put the French back in fries. For sure.See if you can find Sarkozy.  He is hiding in the Bushes.

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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?

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