Category Archives: Geopolitical News

Posts about interesting news, with links and brief excerpts.

Question time on the FM website

Summary:  We have entered a period of radical change, the results of which we can only guess at.  To help us understand, brought back by popular demand, is Question Time on the FM website.  Ask any question about geopolitics, broadly defined. We — and those reading the FM website — will attempt to answer it in the comments.   All answers welcomed!

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.

  1. If you were in charge of US grand strategy what would be the ends that you would try to achieve?
  2. Should we call a new Constitutional Convention?
  3. How would reducing our overseas footprint (permanent foreign bases) affect our geopolitical strategy?
  4. {Reply to #2}
  5. Why is gun ownership skyrocketing in America?

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Some political wisdom for your enlightenment:

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Ask the mineshaft! Questions for you to answer.

Summary:  After a long series of “ask a question” posts, today we turn the tables.  Today we “ask the mineshaft.  Aka “ask the community”, from the German “Gemeinschaft” (see Wikpedia).  Share your answers to these questions.  This idea copied from Brad DeLong.

Contents

  1. Lies by warmistas
  2. Lies by Republicans
  3. One possible explanation for all these lies
  4. Update:  suggestions for the Smackdown page?
  5. For more information

(1)  Why do warmistas (aka, fanatic believers in anthropogenic global warming leading to climate disruption) lie so often?

Kant said that when judging the morality of an act, we must weigh the intentions of the actor. Was he acting selfishly, to benefit himself, or selflessly, to help others? By this criterion, Gleick’s lie was clearly moral, because he was defending a cause that he passionately views as righteous. Gleick, you might say, is a hero comparable to Daniel Ellsberg, the military analyst who in 1971 stole and released documents that revealed that U.S. officials lied to justify the war in Vietnam.

… I’ll give the last word to one of my students. The Gleick incident, he said, shows that the “debate” over global warming is not really a debate any more. It’s a war, and when people are waging war, they always lie for their cause.

— “Should Global-Warming Activists Lie to Defend Their Cause?“, John Horgan, Scientific American, 24 February 2012 — Note the author’s obliviousness of the difference between releasing true documents and faking documents.

Much of the propaganda compaign about AGW consists of lies (unlike the debate among climate scientists).  We see this with the news media coverage of the climategate documents from the UK Climate Research Unit (we don’t know they were stolen, as the news media say; they probably came from an insider).

We see this with the forged Heartland Institute strategy memo.  It’s a pitifully obvious fake (by the evidence, probably written by Pacific Institute President Peter Glick) but its lies have been eagerly embraced and disseminated by dozens of warmistas.  (If you have not followed this fascinating story, see Climate Audit, Judith Curry’s and Anthony Watt’s websites.

We see this on the FM website.  What’s the most-common response to posts quoting prominent climate scientists and research from prominent peer-reviewed journals?  “You don’t believe the world has warmed.”  Rather than debate the issues raised, they manufacture a smear.  No matter if the post says the exact opposite.  No matter if the data in the post shows  the exact opposite.  They will repeat the lie, and run away when challenged. For an example see the responses to January’s series about climate science.

For more about this see:

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Question time on the FM website

Brought back by popular request!  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!

(1)  Some quotes to start the debate

“There’s class warfare, all right, but it’s my class, the rich class, that’s making war, and we’re winning.”
Warren Buffett quoted by Stein in the New York Times of 26 November 2006

“Action comes first, and it is only when they have already suffered that they begin to think.”
― Thucydides, The Peloponnesian War

(2)  So far 2,000,000 visitors served

This month the FM website had visitor number 2 million since opening in November 2007.   We’ve had 3.2 million page views and 19,195 comments on our 1,995 posts.  Our thanks to all who have read our material, and even more to those who have passed it on to a friend or colleague.

(3)  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.

  1. What can the US learn from the Switzerland’s economic, cultural, and poitical successes?
  2. Which of the Republican candidates do you see as best fit to lead the nation, from a geopolitical perspective?
  3. What of their pro-Israel policies of the Republican candidates?
  4. Will Iran use the oil weapon to disuade further attacks on them?
  5. The Arabs are moving to a better governement. What might this mean for Israel?
  6. Some right-wing propaganda seriously offered up, providing amusement.
  7. How and when did fear become the most powerful tool in American politics?
  8. Are all of our economic issues due to inflation?

How to evaluate a comment seriously. How to know when to take them seriously.

Summary:  How can one determine the reliability of a correspondent whom one does not know?  Here are some guidelines, drawing on my experience replying to the majority of the 19 thousand comments on the FM website, plus many hundreds of long email discussions about its contents.  Please post in the comments your thoughts about this important topic.

Nobody knows anyone in comments on the Internet.  Names mean nothing, as they might mask someone quite different.  Claims of authority — degrees, rank, titles — are equally easy to fake.  So what indicators of competence and authority can you rely on?

I’ve learned a great deal from comments on the FM website, and they are littered with my acknowledgements of error.  One in particular on an important subject:  A sad picture of America, but important for us to understand.   These are the lessons I’ve learned about who deserves close attention.

The four kinds of comments

This method categorizes comments primarily by the sources of information they cite, secondarily by their understanding of those on the other side of the debate.

(1)  Comments by experts, professional and amateur

They tend to support their assertions with citations of specific books and articles — often citing those on both sides of the debate, or at least acknowledging their valid work when you cite them.  Such people are fruitful partners in debate, and  much can be learned from them.  Such people usually make cautious assertions, expressing opinions that are narrow in scope and hedged (eg, “based on current knowledge”).  We must seek to learn from such people, but expect no change in their views.

(2)  Comments by people well-read in the literature about a subject but governed by a partisan belief

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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!  This will be the last of these.  The experiement started well, but the questions have tapered off in quality and quantity — and it requires a lot of work.

Contents

  1. Questions received so far
  2. Quote of the week, a judge speaks to us from his heart
  3. To start the discussion: articles of interest this week
  4. People are asking questions about COIN. It’s time to trot out the “no true Scotsman fallacy.”

(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.

  1. Why doesn’t America consider energy independence an issue of vital national importance/security?
  2. Why should we care which sized firms hires more. Of what importance does this have for policy-makers?
  3. Important:  Is there a way to stop The Enemy Expatriation Act?
  4. About the article in the latest Nature:  “Climate policy: Oil’s tipping point has passed“

(2)  Quote of the week, a judge speaks to us from his heart

While, as a member of this Court, I am bound to follow Citizens United, I do not have to agree with the Supreme Court’s decision. And, to be absolutely clear, I do not agree with it.

For starters, the notion that corporations are disadvantaged in the political realm is unbelievable. Indeed, it has astounded most Americans. The truth is that corporations wield inordinate power in Congress and in state legislatures. It is hard to tell where government ends and corporate America begins; the transition is seamless and overlapping.

In my view, Citizens United has turned the First Amendment’s “open marketplace” of ideas into an auction house for Friedmanian15 corporatists. Freedom of speech is now synonymous with freedom to spend. Speech equals money; money equals democracy. This decidedly was not the view of the constitutional founders, who favored the preeminence of individual interests over those of big business.

— James C. Nelson, Juctice of the Montana Supreme Court, in his dissent in Western Tradition Partnership vs. Attorney General on Montana, paragraph 125 (source here)

(3)  To start the discussion:  articles of interest

We’ll start with some classics: Continue reading

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!  This is the penultimate chapter in this series (next week will be the last).  It started well, but the questions have tapered off in quantity and quality — and it takes a lot of work.

Contents

  1. Questions received so far
  2. Quote of the week, advice that America’s leaders have taken to heart
  3. To start the discussion: articles of interest this week
  4. A graph that will disturb your sleep

(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.

  1. FM expects a lot from individuals, to volunteer, to study, to care, etc. I’m wondering if FM has any indictment on the social institutions– the churches, societies, and clubs?
  2. Is there any way to convince people, especially libertarians like John Stossel, that manufacturing is necessary for economic competitiveness?
  3. Will the dollar collapse as the world reserve currency?
  4. Any thoughts about this article from the Archdruid Report? Does it offer sound advice?
  5. What is the current best thinking on the purpose and usefulness of the old age rent systems?
  6. Does Ron Paul believe that people have the right to leave their State?  For example, to seek freedom?
  7. How much does the US spend on defense?
  8. A comment about libertarianism
  9. A reader reply to this being the penultimate Question Time post.
  10. Should the United States return to a protectionist trade policy to reboot manufacturing?
  11. During the last 20-30 years have the elite in this country exploited our trust in community institutions for their benefit?

(2) Quote of the week, advice that America’s leaders have taken to heart

Liberty is precious.  So precious that it must be rationed.
— Said by Lenin.  Quote from Soviet communism: a new civilisation by Sidney and Beatrice Webb (1937)

(3)  To start the discussion:  articles of interest

Some recent articles which deserve attention:

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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!

Contents

  1. Questions received so far
  2. To start the discussion: articles of interest this week
  3. A disturbing fact to disturb this week’s sleep
  4. 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.

  1. Important:  What can Iran do in response to the assassinations and sabotage by the Israel-US alliance?
  2. Is the US economy in recovery — or intensive care?
  3. Why doesn’t Iran just make their case to the international community and wait. Brinksmanship is not the answer; time is on their side.
  4. Do you feel the proposed defense budget cuts are dangerous at this period of time?
  5. Which has more significance, the erosion of our civil liberties or our economic competitiveness? Based on that which is easier to rehabilitate?
  6. Why doesnt Iraq press the UN to tell the Coalition they have to pay reparations? A zillion dollar damage repair bill.
  7. 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

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