Tuesday, March 04, 2008

The world of Charlie-Foxtrot

David Seaton's News Links
There is something nightmarish about the meteoric ascension of Barack Obama, a perfection of the same surrealist stupidity, of national foot shooting, that gave the world George W. Bush; as if the United States was imitating ancient Rome, where the Emperor Caligula made a consul of his horse. Caligula only did it once.

"Strange" is a good word, but there is a better one.

What do you call it when many problems, all with many intersecting vectors, each with its own conflicting internal contradictions, all of them in mutual contradiction with each other, all of which then line up like planets in a malignant horoscope? A series of thesis and antithesis with a dialectical result that can only produce a sinister synthesis?

The US military calls this construction a "clusterfuck"; sometimes known by the NATO, phonetic-alphabet acronym, "Charlie-Foxtrot".

The United States finds itself at this moment immersed in full-spectrum, multilayered, universal, clusterfuck of historic proportions.

Just for starters, while the Israelis continue to do what they do to the Palestinians, atomic bomb brewing, Holocaust denying, Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was just warmly received in Baghdad. So much for Iraq.

Turning to atomic Pakistan and that failed state, opium farm, Afghanistan, Arnaud de Borchgrave has this to say:
Replacing U.S. influence topside in Pakistan — or still competing for it — is Saudi Arabia and its protege Nawaz Sharif, the man deposed by Mr. Musharraf in 1999 and exiled to the Saudi kingdom for 10 years. He flew home last fall after Mrs. Bhutto's return, this time generously bankrolled by his Saudi friends. Saudi Arabia was one of only three countries (with Pakistan and the United Arab Emirates) to recognize the Taliban regime in Afghanistan. The new triumvirate gradually superseding President Bush's "most trusted non-NATO ally" is made up of ISI, Saudi Arabia and Nawaz Sharif. This does not bode well for the future of NATO in Afghanistan. President Hamid Karzai's government in Kabul controls only a third of the country while a resurgent Taliban is now solidly entrenched in 10 percent of the narco-state, according to National Intelligence Director Michael McConnell. And tribal leaders call the shots in the rest of a barren, medieval country whose opium poppy production generates more than two-thirds of its gross domestic product (and funds Taliban's insurgency). The most optimistic estimate calls for the United States and NATO to remain engaged, with increased military and economic assets, for another three to five years. Ten years would be more realistic. Speaking not for attribution, a Darwi-speaking U.S. official, back from a wide-ranging inspection trip to Afghanistan, said: "The corruption defies imagination. It has to rank as the worst in the world." Mr. Karzai, he said, used to be called the mayor of Kabul. No more, said my informant. Now Mr. Karzai doesn't even control the capital. Most of his ministers have U.S. visas up to date — just in case. More important, NATO could fracture and founder over the Afghan commitment. Violence and terrorism could then quickly escalate across the world. READ IT ALL
And then of course, there is the economy. James Howard Kunstler is the "Sultan of Clusterfuck", America's most entertaining prophet of doom. Here is what he has to say about the economy:
When you introduce perversities into an economic system, they invariably end up expressing themselves as distortions. The economy that evolved the past two decades, driven by the perverse securitization of wishes and frauds, will now express itself in a stark cratering of American living standards. Incomes and jobs will vanish, massive quantities of stuff will collect dust on the WalMart shelves, the fragile infrastructures of daily life will go to shit, and there will be political hell to pay. Every attempt to avoid a straight-up workout of our massive losses, will represent another layer of perversity and more consequent destructive distortions. I feel sorry for the next president. Even as he takes his oath of office, the nation will be flying apart like a seized-up engine. READ IT ALL
Into this world sails the USS Barack Obama, brilliant law student who has practiced little law, community activist, state legislator, three years in the US Senate... the man of the hour.

Former ambassador Joseph C. Wilson, with his wife, Valerie Plame, were a couple at the center of the fight against the rush to war in Iraq: Wilson's is the most damning dismantling of Barack Obama that I have read so far.
Joseph C. Wilson: Obama's Hollow "Judgment" and Empty Record - Huffington Post
I was involved in that debate in every step of the effort to prevent this senseless war and I profoundly resent Obama's distortion of George Bush's folly into Hillary Clinton's responsibility. I was in the middle of the debate in Washington. Obama wasn't there. I remember what was said and done. In fact, the administration lied in order to secure support for its war of choice, including cooking the intelligence and misleading Congress about the intent of the authorization. Senator Clinton's position, stated in her floor speech, was in favor of allowing the United Nations weapons inspectors to complete their mission and to build a broad international coalition. Bush rejected her path. It was his war of choice.There is no credible reason to conclude that Obama would have acted any differently in voting for the authorization had he been in the Senate at that time. Indeed, he has said as much.(...) Obama's gyrations on Iraq, Afghanistan and Iran are not the actions of one imbued with superior intuitive judgment, but rather the machinations of a political opportunist looking to avoid having his fingerprints on any issue that might be controversial, and require real judgment, while preserving his freedom to bludgeon his adversary for actually taking positions as elected office demands. It is hard to discern whether Senator Obama is a man of principle, but it is clear that he is not a man of substance. And that judgment, based on his hollow record, is inescapable. READ IT ALL
Well, as soldiers often say when in the midst of a clusterfuck, "shit happens". DS


Anonymous said...

The Green Party view on Obama is that he is only a couple inches to the left of Hilary. This is a column by the Green Party Vice Presidential candidate:


Obama will likely be president. We will likely get a person who will continue the same policies as are currently practiced, just within existing laws. It does not appear that anyone likely to win realizes how bad things are trending.

For another good (terrifying) economics blog I recommend Nouriel Roubini's RGE Monitor - he is forecasting a systemic financial meltdown with Northern Rock style bank runs and takeovers in the US.

Forensic econ

RC said...

Dave, nice to see that Kunstler is on your reading list. But I fail to see {a la Kunstler} how any candidate can readily overcome the already ambush arranged cluster foxtrot.
Obama may be irritating to you, but Hillary is just as irritating to others. I do think the next pres. of the US will have to take a look at the FDR years and get some solid ideas from there because where we are going is going to be even rougher than that was.
And I am not one of those who has neglected to discover that a large sector of the US population detested Franklin Delano and also that his make work concepts probably didn't solve the economic foxtrot as well as the War did, yet, his speechmaking and leadership probably served the country very well until the war machine got going.
Perhaps soothing speeches will be the most important political asset
during the next 8 years.
I think so.
We are going to face {are facing} a literal world of severe trouble, no argument there, and I agree that there seem to be so very few options that don't involve pain available.

David Seaton's Newslinks said...

Roubini is one of my favorites for some time now.

Anonymous said...

But please put de Borchgrave into his proper context too:


David Seaton's Newslinks said...

De Borchgrave is very much a "black arts" type, and has to be read with filters, but he seems to have very good contacts in the western intelligence services and especially good contacts in Pakistan. With China Hand" he is a very valuable resource for trying to understand that country and Afghanistan.

Personally my reading of him is expressed in an old Spanish saying, "The Devil knows more because of great age than because he is the Devil". I get the impression that he forgets more in an hour than most people ever knew.

Marshall said...

Joseph C. Wilson said : I was in the middle of the debate in Washington. Obama wasn't there. I remember what was said and done. In fact, the administration lied in order to secure support for its war of choice, including cooking the intelligence and misleading Congress about the intent of the authorization.

Funny thing is, I was there too, albeit just as an ordinary citizen. I knew that they were lying, and I was dismayed that Democrats went along with it. They should have known better.

It is very hard to respect Ms Clinton here. She has been weighed in the balance and found wanting.