Question time on the FM website (plus The Week in Review)
Ask any question about geopolitics, broadly defined. We — and others reading the FM website — will attempt to answer it in the comments. All answers welcomed!
- Questions received so far
- To start the discussion: articles of interest this week
- A disturbing fact to disturb this week’s sleep
- Quote of the week
(1) Questions received so far
Click on the link to go directly to that thread. Please use the REPLY button when replying to a previous comment, to keep threads together.
- Important: What can Iran do in response to the assassinations and sabotage by the Israel-US alliance?
- Is the US economy in recovery — or intensive care?
- Why doesn’t Iran just make their case to the international community and wait. Brinksmanship is not the answer; time is on their side.
- Do you feel the proposed defense budget cuts are dangerous at this period of time?
- Which has more significance, the erosion of our civil liberties or our economic competitiveness? Based on that which is easier to rehabilitate?
- Why doesnt Iraq press the UN to tell the Coalition they have to pay reparations? A zillion dollar damage repair bill.
- Is this the best article of the week, a must-read for all Americans?
Also see this question, in thread #2: Why can the Spain’s conservative party (the PP) get away with blaming the previous socialist government for Spain’s economic problems, when the PP ruled from 1996-2004 — when their problems took root and festered? It’s a question relevent to the US as well.
(2) To start the discussion: articles of interest this week
- “Student loans outstanding will exceed $1 trillion this year“, USA Today, 25 October 2011 — “The amount of student loans taken out last year crossed the $100 billion mark for the first time. Americans now owe more on student loans than on credit cards.”
- “A Dysfunctional Education System That Bankrupts A Generation“, Wolf Richter, The Testosterone Pit, 26 October 2011
- This is the America of our future, unless we act soon and strongly: “Rick Perry: the best little whore in Texas“, Matt Taibbi, Rolling Stone, 28 October 2011 — “The Texas governor has one driving passion: selling off government to the highest bidder.” This is State Capitalism, politicans delivering value in exchange for campaign contributions.
- “Austrian Monetary Mental Mysteries for What I Hope Is the One Last Time“, Brad DeLong (Prof Economics, Berkeley), 15 November 2011
- Nobody does propaganda than Fox! “More Government Failures Costing You“, Fox News, 28 November 2011 — Normal glitches of innovation are unacceptable in modern America!
- The real scoop, unlike the above Fox News story: “The Straight Story On the Chevy Volt Battery Fire“, Popular Mechanics, 28 November 2011 — “Reports of a Chevy Volt’s battery pack catching fire after a crash test have ignited fears over the car’s safety. Here’s what you should know about the test fire, why you probably shouldn’t be worried about it happening on the highway.”
- “Pity the Quarter-Billionaire – Take a Ride on the RINO in 2012“, Thomas Frank, TomDispatch, 8 January 2012 — “Why the Tea Party Needs Mitt”
- “Scripps blockbuster: Ocean acidification happens all the time — naturally“, Jo Nova, 9 January 2012 — You read it here first.
- “Descent into Deepest Ignominy – The Heritage Foundation Then and Now“, Chuck Spinney et al, CounterPunch, 9 January 2012
- Highly recommended: “Libya and the New Warmongering“, David Gibbs (Prof History, U AZ Tucson), Foreign Policy in Focus, 12 January 2012
(3) Quote of the week
The American ruling class feeds on raw meat – dominant and imbued with a sense of its own virtue and infallibility, it is unable to comprehend, much less to accept, the growing limitations on American power. This leaves them arrogant and prone to misjudgements, disinclined to seek workable compromises with countries whose fundamental interests may be divergent from their own. If Destiny is not manifest, then game theory becomes a vital field of study.
At worst, the domestic political process has descended into the grotesque, with the likes of Sarah Palin and Donald Trump becoming serious national players, while a Tea Party utterly divorced from reality renders the budget debate an exercise in the theatre of the absurd. The preponderant influence of special interests prevents urgently needed reform, whilst extreme ideological positioning by political parties threatens paralysis.
— “Idiots“, Eric Kraus, Truth & Beauty, 9 May 2011
(4) A disturbing fact to disturb this week’s sleep
“Patriot Act – The kitchen-sink approach to national security“, Benjamin Wallace-Wells, New York magazine, 27 August 2011
Graph: Delayed-notice search warrants issued under the expanded powers of the Patriot Act, 2006–2009
“Patriot Act” was appropriately overt. Before 9/11, when politicians spoke of “patriots,” they usually meant soldiers. Now prosecutors and the FBI were reaching for the same vanity—that they were the hard tip of freedom — and the same license to pursue enemies without much oversight or meddling.
When it was signed into law six weeks after the attacks, the act made it easier to wiretap American citizens suspected of cooperating with terrorism, to snoop through business records without notification, and to execute search warrants without immediately informing their targets (a so-called sneak-and-peek. Privileges once reserved for overseas intelligence work were extended to domestic criminal investigations. There was less judicial oversight and very little transparency.
The bill’s symbolism mattered also, signaling that the moral deference previously given to the Special Forces would be broadened until it encompassed much of the apparatus of the American state. Local prosecutors, military policemen, CIA lawyers — these were indispensable patriots too.
The Patriot Act was mostly a Republican project at its origin, but it would have died long ago without the support of Democrats. Liberals