On my eighth anniversary of writing these posts – a special edition question time on the FM website

A historical note:  My first article was written eight years ago, about our wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.  Since then I and other authors have written 1,851 articles on a wide range of geopolitical issues (see the reference pages on the right side menu bar for links).  Readers have contributed 16,531 comments (with a few by me).  My thanks to all who have read these articles, and especially to those who have written comments.

Ask any question about geopolitics, broadly defined. We’ll attempt to answer it in the comments.   Links to other episodes appear below.

Like Jeopardy, your comments must be in the form of a question!

Questions received so far:

  1. Is there hope for Italy?
  2. Is America using a state of war to justify killing Awlaki different than the reasoning behind the Nuremberg Trials (the justice process for prosecuting war Nazi war crimes)?
  3. What is your take on Iran? What are the real posiilities of it becoming the major regional power in the M.E
  4. Do you feel that Iran saying that they will station warships near the Atlantic Coast of the U.S. is just posturing or are they serious about this and capable of doing it?
  5. Anwar al-Awlaki was a TRAITOR to this country. And a terrorist. Why should I shed a tear over his demise?
  6. What about the potential of reprisals for the hits on bin Laden and al-Awlaki?  Yeah yeah, bring it on. We are still waiting since OBL went fishing.
  7. Why shouldn’t this be treated as a war?  No kid gloves. Go for the kill every time!
  8. A very big question about worldviews.
  9. Would US foreign policy be any different today if the 9-11 attacks had never happened?
  10. Aren’t there too many good Americans involved for this kind of stuff to go on without the truth coming out?
  11. What do you think about Israel’s future and current situation? About Palestinians?
  12. Authoritarian regimes when they lose legitimacy tend to go quickly to the wall, like the USSR and the Warsaw pack nations, do you see such a future for the Chinese Communist State, and if so do you find that a worrying prospect?
  13. What can be done about politics?
  14. Further questions about my replies.
  15. What do you think of the “Occupy Wall Street” protests?

Previous episodes

Earlier episodes were big successes. My thanks to all who participated!

34 thoughts on “On my eighth anniversary of writing these posts – a special edition question time on the FM website

  1. Happy anniversary!

    I think you’ve accurately explained that Europe is in trouble. We’d all have to agree, though, that if Europe has its problems, Italy is in an even worse mess. But, some of her citizens, like Maria Grazia Cucinotta, seem to have it together. Does this give us reason for hope?

    {picture omitted: could not load correctly}

    1. There is always hope!

      On a more mundane note — Economic events are not like atomic war or invasion of the Mongels. Afterwards the foundations of society — our physical and human infrastructure — remain. Which is why society almost always bounces back. We had frequent depressions in the late 19th century, and they don’t even bother mentioning them in grade school history books.

      Life is not just about managing for the long-term — the stream of future generations to come — but also managing the inevitable challenges of our time. Europe seems to be doing this poorly now, and the pain of this generaton is not assuaged by the knowledge that it will seem a small thing to the people of the 24th century.

  2. If America is using a state of war to kill Awlaki, then different from the reasoning behind the Nuremberg Trials as a case for the justice process for prosecuting war Nazi war crimes?

    1. I might not understand your question. Our hit on Awlaki (a US citizen giving sermons hostile to US foreign policy) is totally unrelated to prosecution in Court of NAZI’s for their evil deeds. This are almost total opposites.

  3. Much is said about Iran, and it is sometimes hard to define what is an exaggeration of reality for an specific agenda, or true geopolitical gains made by this country-civilization. What is your take on Iran? What are the real posiilities of it becoming the major regional power in the M.E

    1. Iran has the potential to become a regional hegemon in the Middle East, especially after we transfomed Iraq — from secular enemy into Shiite ally. But their internal policies are dysfunctional (a poor petro-state, almost impossible), rendering them a paper tiger for the near future. Here are some posts with more information:

      Posts about Iran

      1. War with Iran, 9 November 2007 — Why Iran is not necessarily our enemy.
      2. Is Iran dangerous, or a paper tiger?, 13 November 2007
      3. Iran – a key state to watch as the new world order evolves, 3 March 2009
      4. More about Iran, things you know that might not be so, 3 October 2009
      5. Iran will have the bomb in 5 years (again), 21 January 2010
      6. Stratfor thinks about the unthinkable: a U.S.-Iranian deal, 6 March 2010

      For more information about Iran, esp its nukes, see the FM Reference Page about Iran.

  4. Do you feel that Iran saying that they will station warships near the Atlantic Coast of the U.S. is just posturing or are they serious about this and capable of doing it?

    1. (1) It’s just posturing in the sense that it sounds nifty but accomplishes nothing. They are just tweaking our nose, a common pastime for regional powers facing a global hegemon.

      (2) They are capable of this meaningless gesture, at some considerable expense (i.e., spending funds they cannot spare).

      They should just be ignored. Never discourage hostile powers from doing stupid things.

  5. Awlaki was a TRAITOR to this country. And a terrorist. Why should I shed a tear over his demise?

    {This is a slightly edited excerpt from a comment by aguila2011 posted on another thread.

    1. (1) Did Anwar al-Awlaki commit treason?

      What distinquishes the American system of government from tyranny or mob rule? We follow laws. Treason is among the most serious of crimes, and historically among the most abused by governments. So they explicitly defined treason Article III Section 3 of the Constitution :

      Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying war against them, or in adhering to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort. No person shall be convicted of treason unless on the testimony of two witnesses to the same overt act, or on confession in open court.

      For a detailed analysis see the Cornell Law School website about the Constitution.

      1. Levying War“.
      2. Giving aid and comfort to the enemy“.
      3. Doubtful State of the Law of Treason Today

      Of course this means nothing to those who despise the Constitution, and less to those within who seek to replace it.

      (2) Was Anwar al-Awlaki a terrorist?

      Tyrants consider patriots to be those who believe what the government says and obey the government’s orders. In some circles of America today we see similar beliefs. It’s a sign of decay, that the Founders’ grand venture is dying.

      Specifically, there is no public evidence that Awlaki is a terrorist, even under the expanded usage the US government has given that word. He gives sermons urging opposition to the US government and its programs, but those are exactly the kind of political and religous speech the First Ammendment was designed to protect.

      Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech …

      The US government says that Awlaki has done many other things, for which they give no evidence. Unfortunately we know that since WWII US government official have frequently lied about such things. Blind belief despite this history is characteristic of a peon than a citizen, and on a large scale probably incompatible with our Constitutional system.

      To learn the real definition of terrorism (as used by the US government):
      Tom Friedman offers a perfect definition of ‘terrorism’”, Glenn Greenwald, Salon, 14 January 2009
      The true definition of ‘Terrorist’”, Glenn Greenwald, Salon, 22 June 2011

      Some posts about terrorism:

      1. To good a story to die: eliminate legitimate grievances to eliminate terrorism, 9 December 2008
      2. “Some people just want to see the world burn”, 17 January 2009
      3. Are islamic extremists like the anarchists?, 14 December 2009
      4. RAND explains How Terrorist Groups End, and gives Lessons for Countering al Qa’ida, 15 January 2010
      5. Stratfor discusses the Jihadist WMD Threat, 14 Febuary 2010
      6. Today’s fear-mongering (they think we’re cowards, but I’m sure they’re wrong), 4 May 2010
      7. Stratfor: Setting the Record Straight on Grassroots Jihadism, 15 May 2010
      8. A Stratfor forecast for America: “From Failed Bombings to Armed Jihadist Assaults”, June 2010
  6. What about the potential of reprisals for the hits on bin Laden and al-Awlaki? Yeah yeah, bring it on. We are still waiting since OBL went fishing.

    {This is a slightly edited excerpt from a comment by aguila2011 posted on another thread.

    1. (1) “As for reprisals, yeah yeah, bring it on.”

      The late John Boyd (Colonel, USAF) summarized grand strategy as gathering and strengthening friends while weakening enemies. This bravado — let’s fight the world — is fun for children but folly for a great nation. it encourages enemies and discourages allies (nobody wants to follow an idiot).

      For more information about grand strategy:

      1. The Myth of Grand Strategy
      2. America’s Most Dangerous Enemy (ourselves, esp our paranoia and hubris)
      3. For more see section 5 of the FM Reference Page about Military and strategic theory

      (2) “We are still waiting since OBL went fishing”

      Perhaps AQ has staged no reprisals for the same reason they’ve done almost nothing for many years — because they no longer exist in meaningful form, sustained only by good PR by themselves and the US government (another of the exaggerated threats used to keep the US public fearful and obiedent).

      There are AQ “franchises”, such as those fighting for purely nationalistic goals in Yemen and Iraq, but those pose little threat to the US. For more about this see Does al Qaeda still exist?

      (a) For more information about al Qaeda:

      1. Important: Lessons Learned from the American Expedition to Iraq, 29 December 2005 — Is al Qaeda like Cobra, SPECTRE, and THRUSH?
      2. The enigma of Al Qaeda. Even in death, these unanswered questions remain important, 15 September 2008
      3. “Strategic Divergence: The War Against the Taliban and the War Against Al Qaeda” by George Friedman, 31 January 2009
      4. Can we defeat our almost imaginary enemies?, 10 December 2009
      5. “The Almanac of Al Qaeda” – about our foe, 16 June 2010
      6. Today’s news about the Ak-Pak War, about al Qaeda’s strength, 1 July 2010
      7. Important: Does al Qaeda still exist?, 31 March 2011

      (b) For more information about our Islamic foes:

      1. Important: Are islamic extremists like the anarchists?, 14 December 2009
      2. Important: RAND explains How Terrorist Groups End, and gives Lessons for Countering al Qa’ida, 15 January 2010
      3. Stratfor’s strategic analysis – “Jihadism in 2010: The Threat Continues”, 17 March 2010
      4. Stratfor: “Jihadism: The Grassroots Paradox”, 21 March 2010
      5. Stratfor: Setting the Record Straight on Grassroots Jihadism, 1 May 2010
      6. Hard (and disturbing) information about schools in Pakistan – the madāris , 1 May 2011
    1. Perhaps it should not be treated as war because it is not war. As has been pointed out so many times — terror is a method (one we’ve used as well — “shock and awe”), and jihadism is a religous ideology. Neither are well fought by the methods used in wars.

      Perhaps we’ve become war-crazy following our success in WWI and WWII. We try the war on poverty, the war on drugs, now the war on terrorism. War is not a good paradigm for things other than state-on-state confict, which is why these other “wars” do not go well.

      For more about this see: A solution to 4GW – the introduction

  7. I have four questions related to clear guidance for the present. (by having a strong foundation in the past and a vision for the future)

    Question 1: What are the requirements and qualities for a complete comprehensive and harmonious worldview which can be used as a foundation for nations and peoples and if possible humanity? This is somewhat related to grand strategy, but not exactly.

    Although the virtues, principles and essence of such a worldview may be eternal its form definitely is not, since the form is bound to the ever changing temporal world. So (according to my understanding) these worldviews come and go. This makes we wonder about three things.

    Question 2: What are the dominant universal worldviews at present? (Globally and maybe regionally)

    Question 3: What are the clear signs of obsolescence for a worldview.

    And finally Question 4: What are the dominant universal worldviews for the future? But since the future is increasingly becoming murkier for us mere mortals to see maybe a better question would be: how can we recognize or develop a worldview for the future? Any new worldview should in my understanding also include a clear path to grow out of the old worldview. This is essential for it to be realistic and implementable.

    May you and your blog continue to develop and prosper.

    1. All great questions, but over my pay grade.

      Someone asked a similar question last week, and I’ll give a similar answer. I am not a fan of comprehensive worldviews. Such systems are useful for some people. Perhaps it’s a matter of personal style.

      I suggest reading The Hedgehog and the Fox by the philosopher Isaiah Berlin (1953). Here’s the opening:

      There is a line among the fragments of the Greek poet Archilochus which says: ‘The fox knows many things, but the hedgehog knows one big thing.’ Scholars have differed about the correct interpretation of these dark words, which may mean no more than that the fox, for all his cunning, is defeated by the hedgehog’s one defence.

      But, taken figuratively, the words can be made to yield a sense in which they mark one of the deepest differences which divide writers and thinkers, and, it may be, human beings in general. For there exists a great chasm between those, on one side, who relate everything to a single central vision, one system, less or more coherent or articulate, in terms of which they understand, think and feel – a single, universal, organising principle in terms of which alone all that they are and say has significance – and, on the other side, those who pursue many ends, often unrelated and even contradictory, connected, if at all, only in some de facto way, for some psychological or physiological cause, related to no moral or aesthetic principle.

  8. func 9/11(void) returns(null);
    This is a counterfactual bonus question. Step into your time machine. It appears that plans had already been made, even before the media event. Try to imagine that the famous WTC attack had simply never happened. Would foreign policy be any different today? No wars? No patriot act? No financial strains? Or could it be, that some or all of those things might have happened anyway? I wonder? Hehe he he.

    1. Counterfactual are interesting to start discussions, but unfortunately beyond answer. Here’s my guess.

      9-11 served to a large degree as the foundation on which subsequent events built.

      (1) The US government ignored the findings of the 9-11 Commission (themselves compermised, as many Commissions have since admitted, by the government withholding data and lies), and declared Afghanistan the staging ground for 9-11. However false, the political establishing and news media eagerly adopted this simple but false narrative and took us into the Afghanistan quagmire — with no visible benefits to the US even if we established a stable pro-American regime (which today seems unlikely).

      (2) The US government used hysteria following 9-11 to gain support for invading and re-making Iraq. Speeches by the Bush Administrations were a tissue of lies, about Iraq’s ties to al Qaeda — about Iraq’s intent to attach the US — about Iraq’s WMDs.

      (3) Supercharging the hysteria were the September 2001 anthrax attacks. Due to a large-scale and long-term program of lies by the FBI, we don’t know who staged the attacks. What we do know:

      1. The anthrax seems likely to have come from US government labs.
      2. The timing — one week after 9-11 — looks suspicious. Probably no private individual or group can do this from a cold start in one weeki.
      3. The Bush Administration was the major beneficiary, as they used this to implement the Patriot Act and grossly expand US domestic surveilance.

      (4) The FBI has maintained the culture of fear exaggerating a few actual terrorist plots AND by manufacturing others.

      Conclusion: The US government was willing and able to effect these changes in US domestic and foreign policy given a suitable excuse. 9-11 accellerated this process, but my guess is that it would have happened any in some form. Excuses would have been found or manufactured.

      9-11 was not the key event. Somepoint during the last decade our leaders discovered that we were sheep. Easily led, willing to believe any lies. That is the inflection point in US history. That is the kind of discovery that changes the course of nations.

  9. FM, while the government has no doubt engendered the distrust of the public by the manipulation of events and information, I have always told myself “But there are too many good people, good Americans involved for this kind of stuff to go on without the truth coming out.” With regards to your response {to Mikyo, question #9, in your bullet #4}, how can this kind of operation involving so many be kept under wraps for so long? Am I to believe that these civil servants are only concerned with their personal well-being and have no overriding patriotic goals?

    BTW, I think from history long ago, leaders learned the masses were sheep. This did not just happen in the decade following 9/11.

    1. (1) “how can this kind of operation involving so many be kept under wraps for so long?”

      What’s under wraps? The FBI has been quite clear about their role selecting and supporting these wannbe terrorists, few if any of whom would have done anything without the FBI’s assistance.

      Our cowardness is not their problem. Our leaders feed our fears and lead us by the nose. That’s the way of life.

      (2) “I think from history long ago, leaders learned the masses were sheep”

      Any mention of history brings forth the “things are always the same” theory. In fact social traits are omnipresent, but vary over time, from place to place. Magnitudes matter.

      This is subjective, but I believe that Americans have been rowdy bunch — difficult to manage. As befits free citizens. Which makes our current condition sad, something for the Founders to weep over.

    1. Israel was on course for a great strategic victory, establishing solid if not friendly relations with their neighbors, with the Camp David Accords (1978), the Oslo Accords (1993). the Gaza-Jericho Agreement (1994), and the Agreement on Preparatory Transfer of Powers and Responsibilities (1994), the Washington Declaration (1994), the Israel-Jordan Treaty of Peace (1994), the Israeli-Palestinian Interim Agreement (1995), and the the Hebron Protocol (1997). But all this potential came to nothing, destroyed by the expansion of settlements into Palestine following the 1977 election victory by the Likud Party. This policy was antithetical to both the peace process and the long-term survival of Israel. They forfeited the moral high ground, the key to survival in a world with 4GW is the dominant form of warfare.

      Israel is violating the basics of grand strategy, as described by the late John Boyd (Colonel, USAF): strengthen your alliances (make more friends, strength your ties to them), discourage your enemies (set them against each other, make them look bad, weaken their morale). Israel’s alientates its friends and empowers its enemies. Particularlly stupid — even suicidal — is their hostile response to peaceful protests. Their supporters in the US give them false confidence, by cheering even violent, bloody responses (which is, after all, how they conduct US foreign policy). But the rest of the world is not so daft, and Israel cannot survive with the US as its sole ally.

      On the other hand, the Palestinians consistently play their cards poorly. This has been Israel’s greatest strength (an incompetent foe). If that changes — a unified and competently led Palestine — Israel will face an existential crisis. The situation will have to change greatly before Israel can make a secure home for itself in the Middle East, and getting there might be prove painful for both sides. It’s even possible that history might not survive

      For more information, see these posts about Israel:

      1. Important: The Fate of Israel, 28 July 2006
      2. The War Nerd shows how simple 4GW theory can be, 22 January 2009
      3. Are Israel’s leaders insane? Jeffrey Goldberg thinks so., 15 August 2010
  10. Authoritarian regimes when they lose legitimacy tend to go quickly to the wall, like the USSR and the Warsaw pack nations, do you see such a future for the Chinese Communist State, and if so do you find that a worrying prospect?

    1. All states tend to go quickly when they lose legitimacy! Look at post-Revolutionary French government, with the Directory then Napoleon taking power. Or the fall of the Weimar Government.

      I see no signs — zip, nada — that the Chinese government is losing legitimacy. The usual view is that “they have problems!” So do all governments. The China is doomed articles are noteworthy mostly for their lack of comparative analysis. China is big, so its ALWAYS possible to find incidents that would be serious if occuring on a large scale. Look at US history if portrayed as China is today.

      1. A period of horrific internal discord, with armed troops deployed into their cities each summer to maintain order (the race riots of the late 1960s and early 1970s)
      2. A period of violent political discord (the anti-war riots, culminating in the shooting at Kent State), with an active insurgency (the radical leftist and Black Power groups)
      3. Low level violent insurgency, marked by ocassional violent crackdowns by the government (anti-abortion violence, eco-terrorism, right-wing militia — and Ruby Ridge and Waco)
      4. Falling public confidence in the government, the army & police the only institutions in which the public retains confidence
      5. Dysfunctional politics, deteriorating economics

      We see these things in context, and so don’t worry that the US will collapse tomorrow. The China doomsters take such isolated datapoints and draw a pleasing (to them) picture. In fact states with rapidly growing economies seldom collapse. Wages are rising at double-digit rates, continuing a 20 year run of prosperity. People forgive much under such circumstances.

      Comparative analysis requires looking at China’s situation relative to its own history (esp 1900-1970) and that of other states. The China doomsters tend to start with the assumption that the US political regime is eternal and China is about to fall (in the 1950s Republicans would toast “next year in Peking”, about the potential for the remnant in Taiwan to retake the mainland).

      We have seldom been capable of rational analysis of China. Red menace, now rising rival — both a projection of our fears — with little to do with the reality of China.

    2. For a quick overview of some of the cultural and infrastructure issues facing China, I refer you to this slideshow which highlights some key issues facing the government and people of China;

      http://www.investinganswers.com/a/eight-reasons-china-not-yet-ready-take-over-world-1959

      However, while I do not consider these problems to be show-stoppers for China’s growth and challenge to sole US super power status in the next twenty years, I do consider two main trends to be bothersome.

      One is the one-child policy which since the late 1970’s has resulted in a male bulge in the population exceeding females in the same age group by some 30-60 million persons (estimates vary). This is the result of families resorting to gender selection since the availability of amniocentesis. To carry on the family name, run the family business and provide for seniors in their old age, girl babies have been aborted in favor of boys. One side effect is that even though China’s military expenditures lag those of the US government by several times, I believe the numbers I saw were on the order of $90 billion annually for China vs. almost $300 billion for the US, China has the largest standing Army and reserves in the world in terms of manpower. This has significant impact on the workforce and the ability of government to generate sufficient revenue to support an increasingly aging population.

      Reference http://www.pbs.org/independentlens/pleasevoteforme/onechildpolicy.html

      The second and related item is the military buildup. While I do not fear China’s buildup in terms of technology (since I believe much of the US expense in focused on R&D), I see their moves as a precursor to possible moves in Asia going after resources of which China faces serious shortages. If their holdings of US debt become devalued, they may then choose to simply “take” what they need. Otherwise, why do they need such a large military? Do they really fear the US and view our country as an existential threat?

      My study of history leads me to see a scenario developing that is similar to the pre-Japan invasion of Asia when that country was being cut off, e.g. facing serious resource shortages, like petroleum. Their rapid growth and the rise in cement, rubber, steel and other material prices due to increased world demand driven largely by China has meant that they are outstripping supply. As moves by countries like the US aim at protectionism, then pressure for more radical action will only increase. That is my novice geopolitical assessment and I welcome comments from FM.

  11. 1. What can be done about politics? I can think of a few things:

    A) Having the education system teach civics, citizenship, logic and the scientific method, etc. at all levels. Also free adult education on these topics, as well as parenting education so that parents will teach the above. Popular culture needs to glorify the above. Religion needs to quit manufacturing and hyping wedge issues, ally with science, and work to teach and promote the above.

    B) Teach the difference between patriotism and nationalism/tribalism. We must not fall into the trap of turning the constitution etc. into holy relics with no meaning. This is what seems to define patriotism these days – a reverence for the symbols of one’s own tribe, with no idea of what they represent.

    C. Would it help to get rid of politicians? What do you think of replacing congress with randomly-selected citizens? (There have been small-scale experiments with randomly-selected representatives but I can’t find them because I don’t remember what the system is called). Do you think there be too great a risk of them being bribed, manipulated/intimidated, or would it just make no difference? (Or would you oppose it for changing the constitution?) I imagine the Senate could be replaced with citizens individually ratifying the legislation whenever they want (by phone or email or whatever). There would be no “no” votes, meaning no attacks ads saying “Prop. ### will eat your children” – the only way to defeat a legislation will be to ignore it.

    1. Opps, I see what I did there – the old “disguise my rant as a question” trick. If I was taking to John Kerry I’d probably be tazed by about now…

    2. These things are discussed at length on the FM reference page Politics in America.

      (1) “Would it help to get rid of politicians?”

      We elect them because that’s what we want. There’s no point in whining about our choices. When we decide to elect better people we might get better results. As it is we should make “not my fault” as our national motto.

      (2) “What do you think of replacing congress with randomly-selected citizens?”

      Is that how you pick your doctor, attorney, or car mechanic? Why do you believe that running a city, State, or Nation is easier?

  12. Fabius, in your reply to Q9 you said: “Supercharging the hysteria were the September 2001 anthrax attacks. Due to a large-scale and long-term program of lies by the FBI, we don’t know who staged the attacks.” and following.

    You aren’t suggesting that government officials staged the anthrax attacks as a matter of policy, are you? This seems awfully dubious to me.

    In your reply to Q11 you said: “The situation will have to change greatly before Israel can make a secure home for itself in the Middle East, and getting there might be prove painful for both sides. It’s even possible that history might not survive”

    Do you believe in some sort of prophetic Armageddon in the Middle East, or something? Such ominous forebodings sound a little overblown to me.

    1. I meant what I said.

      We know that the anthrax came from a US government lab. That the government falsely accused Hatfill, deliberately ruining his life — as they had near-zero evidence (see this New York Times article). Then they tried a better approach, picking a dead guy who could not defend himself. This case also quickly unraveled (most notably, with the National Academy of Sciences failing to support their conclusions).

      “This seems awfully dubious to me.”

      The history of the past 50 years is Americans learning that what they knew was false, and the truth was almost beyond belief. The government’s experiments with radiation and drugs on people, Kennedy’s pool parties, the Cuban Missile Crisis, the Pentagon Papers, the CIA’s domestic surveilance and foreign interference in allied governments — it’s a long list. How much of what we believe today will prove to be as astonishing. All we know for sure than many government accounts of events — from the Kennedy assassination to the 9-11 and anthrax attracks — make little sense. Only time will reveal the truth. But depending what seems reasonable to you is IMO probably not a reliable guide.

    2. “Do you believe in some sort of prophetic Armageddon ”

      I said nothing remotely like that. Try using quotes rather than making stuff up.

      A small state like Israel, surrounded by enemies, changing substantially in response to poor internal demographics and loss of external support (ie, friends like Turkey becoming enemies) — that is a commonplace of history. Nothing “prophetic” or like “armageddon” involved.

  13. This might involve quite a broad definition of geo-politics, but what do you think of the “Occupy Wall Street” protests? Is this what you seem to have hoped the Tea Party would be or is it simply the liberal version of the TP? Could it have some sort of influence as regards American policy, both foreign and domestic?

    1. That is an important question, to which I can unfortunately reply — I don’t know, not having the time to do research. It would take time, since the mainstream news media covers protests like this as if they were an alien invasion (see Glenn Greenwald’s new article at Salon, providing amazing examples).

      Operationally, attacking Wall Street looks logical. The big banks are — and have always been — unpopular in America. The bank bailouts were the original motive force for the Tea Party Protests. And that’s the cautionary note. See how quickly the TP movement was re-absorbed (they were almost all Republicans) back into the Republican Party, to the extent of converting from a anti-bank to a pro-bank movement (Republicans in Congress are de facto tools of the banks, fighting the most obvious and necessary reforms).

      Fighting demons appeals to Americans, but IMO it tends to go nowhere. It’s a negative goal, which produces reforms only when part of a larger vision — and program. Do the protestors have anything like that?

      Even more important, I do not believe that our problems result from political demons. Arousing a mob to hunt and kill will accomplish nothing. Our problem lies within, in our passivity, our willingness to be led. The government’s recent assassinations of US citizens reveals these qualities. We believe what we’re told, no matter that publicly available data contradicts this picture — no matter how often the government lies to us in the War on Terror — no matter how grossly these actions violate the Constitution and the long-held norms of US history.

      My guess: these are just peasant protests. However scary to our rules, they are a standard feature of very hierarchical societies. Such societies have massive internal security forces, so these protests do little but vent the peons frustration.

      Which brings us to another reason nothing but well-conceived reform efforts can succeed: our rulers are competent and aggressive. As seen in this information, which oddly generates no signs of news coverage on Google News:

      On the website of J P Morgan Chase:

      JPMorgan Chase recently donated an unprecedented $4.6 million to the New York City Police Foundation. The gift was the largest in the history of the foundation and will enable the New York City Police Department to strengthen security in the Big Apple. The money will pay for 1,000 new patrol car laptops, as well as security monitoring software in the NYPD’s main data center.

      New York City Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly sent CEO and Chairman Jamie Dimon a note expressing “profound gratitude” for the company’s donation.

      “These officers put their lives on the line every day to keep us safe,” Dimon said. “We’re incredibly proud to help them build this program and let them know how much we value their hard work.”

      Buying loyalty of the police is a standard and essential step for plutocratic rulers, as we saw in late 19th century America. It’s often necessary to use force to supress local uprisings of various kinds — before they spread!

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