Monday, December 19, 2011

The Height of Nuclear Hypocrisy

On Tuesday, the 22nd of November, "experts" at the Brookings Institute in Washington D.C. waxed eloquently upon why Iran must no be allowed to have a nuclear weapon. Thy did not convince.

Iran faces an existential threat from the west; in particular, from the U.S., Israel, and the European Union. These nations are willing - even poised - to bomb Iran simply for wanted that which each of them has.

Iran is in a fix: It lies in the middle of the toughest neighborhood on Earth. No other nation is more beset by nuclear powers. There, in southwest Asia, Israel, Russia, Pakistan, and India have "the bomb". add to that, a nuclear-armed U.S. on Iran's western border (in Iraq), and on its eastern border (in Afghanistan). America's Fifth Fleet patrols the Persian Gulf, bottling up Iran's south. It is the equivalent of the U.S. - instead of having Canada and Mexico on its norther and southern borders - having Russia and China.

Enter oil into the equation. Iran has oil reserves as plentiful as any nation on Earth, (besides Saudi Arabia). When a nation possesses such treasure, it is its leadership's first responsibility to protect it. What better way to safeguard a nation's resources than with the ultimate watchdog - a nuclear deterrent?

Nothing secures America's treasures like its nuclear arsenal. The U.S. has a 650 billion dollar annual defense budget, more than the next 15 countries combined. Yet, for all of our conventional weapons - stealth bombers, aircraft carriers, high-tech drones - take away our nuclear capability, and Russia could defeat us in thirty minutes.

Consider this: North Korea has three or four nuclear weapons - that's all. And that is all the deterrent they need. Ever notice how there is never talk of the U.S. attacking North Korea? On the other hand, when Saddam Hussein's "supposed" nuclear program stalled, we attacked. Libya shelved its nuclear program; we attacked. Iran currently has no nuclear weapons. We talk of attack.

The first phase has already begun, with an attack on their economy. Trade is the lifeline of all nations. Even under the best of circumstances - where nations trade freely - most struggle today. In the midst of this global recession, the U.S. and its allies have imposed severe sanctions of Iran, in effect, telling other nations, "You cannot trade with them." Think bout what it would do to the American economy if someone convinced the nations of the world to not trade with us. The suffering would be enormous. Yet, we impose these conditions on the Iranian people to purposely create suffering. We want them to suffer because they do not follow our rules. Those rules sound like this: Our friends can have nuclear weapons, our enemies cannot.

Israel, our number one friend, has over 100 nuclear warheads - warheads American like to pretend does not exist. India, too, has an unauthorized nuclear arsenal. That is fine with us - so find that despite their having broken our nuclear rules, America has decided to help India advance their nuclear cause even further. But, Iran, who actually signed the same Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) that Israel and India refused to sign, cannot think of having "the bomb". They very thought is hateful to us, and - we are made to believe - is hateful to the world.

Israel poses a conundrum: They spurned the international community and refused to sign the NPT so that they could become a nuclear power. Now, they want that same community to "get up in arms" over Iran for wanting to do the same.

Today, Iran sees the NPT for what it is - a farce, not worth the paper it is written on. So, they have decided (allegedly) that they will have a bomb, too. Suddenly, America screams "bloody murder", and calls for crippling sanctions. Some in America call for war.

Are we serious? Have we lost our minds? What amazes me most is how the rest of the world can line up behind such blatant hypocrisy.

Nuclear proliferation is a serious matter. It must be addressed by serious (i.e., fair-minded) people - people who recognized that unfair is dishonest, and dishonest is indefensible.

Iran has as much right (and reason) to have a nuclear weapon as any nation on Earth. (Nuclear weapons are not illegal). When one nation - the U.S., which as over 5,000 nukes - can say who can and who cannot have one, then that nation has achieved the height of hypocrisy, which is a low road that leads to nowhere.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

We Don't Need No Stinkin' Pipeline!

Beware of the much-ballyhooed Keystone Pipeline, brainchild of the TransCanada Corp. It is a seven-billion dollar project that would stretch the guts of the oil industry clear across the US, from Canada to oil refineries in Houston, Texas. Don't let it happen.

Better to take that seven billion and turn it into refinery capacity on the U.S.-Canadian border. A northern refinery could process North Dakota's crude, as well as the billions of barrels in the oil sands of Canada. The alternative is an ugly mass of steel snaking through the heart of the nation, despoiling rivers, aquifers, delicate ecosystems, and some of the the most scenic vistas on Earth.

Look at the Alaskan pipeline. I has become an eyesore - a rusting, leaking hulk. Want another one straddling the middle of America? Pipelines are not progress. They are relics waiting to happen - so yesterday, (and so unfriendly.) There is no pipeline anywhere that improves the environment it passes through, nor pleases the people it passes by. Only the oil companies - the corporate giants who have no romance in them except it be hard currency - see beauty in such a coiling mass of regressive engineering.

The oil executive will throw dollars to the locals whose lives they despoil - dollars that will dissipate in the once clean air that now carries the stench of oil across a thousand miles. These are dollars their children and grandchildren will never see, vanished like the vistas they will only see in pictures.

Mr. Obama, reject the Keystone Pipeline; save America that unnecessary destruction. Then, build a refinery on North Dakota's far northern border. Let the only pipeline be the one that runs across Canada, and only a few miles across America to its newest refinery.

Monday, December 12, 2011

That Quintessential Soul

African-Americans are often confused by President Obama. Perhaps it is because unlike the great majority of us, he is not a descendant of slaves.

That is what we need to keep in mind: Barack married Michelle. He put two black children in the White House who are descendants of slaves, along with a wife and mother-in-law who are like us. He did not have to marry Michelle. He could have chosen a woman of any other race. He did not. He is a black man who chose the African-American community.

There are some things about Barack that was not his choice. In many ways, he is a dispassionate - not by choice. I am sure, but simply by nature. This is perhaps out biggest concern - that he lacks the roiling emotions that are a hallmark of the black experience. We used to call it "soul". That word is dated now. You rarely hear "soul brother" or "soul sister" anymore, except in regard to someone out of the sixties and the seventies.

If we want, we could call Michelle a "soul sister", but we are hesitant to call Barack a "soul brother" because we do not quite believe it. He is more "soul cousin" then "brother", but still family.

The truth be known, a lot of would-be "soul brothers and sisters" are not all that anymore. We began to lose it in the eighties and the nineties. By the 00's, it was nearly all gone, except for the holdovers (like me) - old-timers, many of whom fought in America's second civil war, the one we simply call "The Struggle."

Today, we who are left, sift through the detritus of those heady times, when we linked arms and marked against the racial winds. We were a sight to behold.

So, do not blame Barack. Not only was he born a "cousin," but he is a product of a time that is ever hard-pressed to produced that quintessential soul.

Monday, December 5, 2011

No Referendums Allowed

Greek prime minister, George Papandreou, is out. He tried to give the citizens of Greece a voice in their future. His cohorts - the Germans, the French, the Americans, et al, were having none of that. They spoke in singular voice: "No." Papandreou stepped down; so did democracy.

It is not that Papandreou's name is synonymous with democracy, but like a flailing Samson reaching with his last breath to do the right thing, he tried to return to the Greeks what which was born in Greece. It did not work. (I suppose the Germans are not sentimental.)

Now, the new Greek prime minister, Lucas Papademos, has his marching orders: No referendum allowed.

A referendum is a simply mechanism in democracies by which citizens of a state can vote for or against proposed legislation that affect their lives. In the present cast, the European Union - in particular, the Germans - offered a bailout package to the sinking Greek economy, one that called for severe austerity measures to be imposed upon the Greek people.

In all fairness, the bailout package appears to be the lesser of two evils. The alternative is a Greek debt default and a likely tumbling-over-a-cliff of the Greek nation, perhaps pulling other nations behind. From all indications, the Greek people were poised to vote the package down, anyway. No chance. The referendum was scuttled, as was Papandreou.

With that, Greece has become a second tier democracy, little better than regimes like Iran that we rail against. Such regimes, too, allow their people to vote, but only so long as those votes do not interfere with the power of the state.

Today, democracy, itself, is under siege by those who claim to hold it dear. At a time when we herald the Arab Spring - the casting off of autocratic regimes for the sake of citizens' rights, in Europe (and the sake of financial autocrats who feign to know what is best for everyone - no referendum allowed.