The Soviet Union created Anti-American and Anti-Israeli Sentiment in the Muslim World

Posted by PITHOCRATES - June 29th, 2013

Week in Review

Jimmy Carter was a very weak president.  When he took over fighting the Cold War he stopped fighting it.  Choosing détente instead.  Making nice with our enemies.  And weakened the U.S. military.  It got so bad that the Soviets didn’t believe he had the guts to launch his nuclear weapons.  Thinking that perhaps MAD (mutually assured destruction) wasn’t so assured anymore.  And began formulating a nuclear first-strike plan.  Bringing the United States close to nuclear war.  Because our enemies viewed him as weak.

Then came Ronald Reagan.  Who reversed the Carter decline.  And made our enemies fear and respect us once again.  Choosing to win the Cold War instead of making nice with our enemies.  As communism was a wretched system that enslaved her people who yearned to breathe free.  Exporting its oppression wherever it could throughout the world.  Where we’re feeling the fallout to this day.  Thanks to Jimmy Carter making nice to our enemy (see EXCLUSIVE: New book reveals how KGB operation seeded Muslim countries with anti-American, anti-Jewish propaganda during the 1970s, laying the groundwork for Islamist terrorism against U.S. and Israel by David Martosko posted 6/25/2013 on the Daily Mail).

The highest-ranking Soviet-bloc intelligence officer ever to defect to the West claims in a new book that anti-American Islamic terrorism had its roots in a secret 1970s-era KGB plot to harm but the United States and Israel by seeding Muslim countries with carefully targeted propaganda.

Yuri Andropov, the KGB chief for 15 years before he became the Soviet premier, sent hundreds of agents and thousands of copies of propaganda literature to Muslim countries.

‘By 1972,’ according to the book, ‘Andropov’s disinformation machinery was working around the clock to persuade the Islamic world that Israel and the United States intended to transform the rest of the world into a Zionist fiefdom…’

Andropov began his leadership of the KGB just months before the 1967 Six-Day War between Arabs and Israelis, in which Israel humiliated the key Soviet allies Syria and Egypt. And he decided to settle the score by training Palestinian militants to hijack El Al airplanes and bomb sites in Jerusalem.

But more shocking, Andropov commissioned the first Arabic translation of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, a Russian-forged 1905 propaganda book that alleged Jews were plotting to take over Europe – and were being aided by the United States…

Kennedy-era Soviet premier Nikita Khrushchev’s disinformation campaigns ‘widened the gap between Christianity and Judaism,’ according to the authors. And ‘Andropov’s disinformation turned the Islamic world against the United States and ignited the international terrorism that threatens us today.’

This is the enemy that Jimmy Carter was trying to make nice to.  One that was widening the gap between Christianity and Judaism.  And one that was turning the Islamic world against the United States.  Which the Soviets did well.  Giving us the mess we have today.

The Soviet Union was officially an atheist state.  Who shut down the Russian Orthodox Church.  As they wanted no other powers or influences over their people’s lives.  Which is why they had no problem putting the major world religions at war with each other.  And explains why today the Russians always seem to fall on the side against the U.S. and Israel.  For they worked hard to foment that anti-American and anti-Israeli sentiment.  And Vladimir Putin was once KGB.  The machine that created this sentiment.  And apparently he still wants to collect the dividends from their old Soviet-era allies.

So it appears that the War on Terror is nothing more than the Cold War redux.  It’s not a rogue power that filled a vacuum left by the Soviet collapse.  But a power that the Soviets created maturing at the time of the Soviet collapse.  Too late to help them not lose the Cold War to Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher.  But perhaps not too late to further expand Russian power over their Soviet-era allies.  Thanks to that anti-American and anti-Israeli sentiment inflaming the Islamic world.  The Soviets made them our enemy.  Not any YouTube video.  Or George W. Bush.  And no amount of making nice to them is going to change that.

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Cane Sugar, Crystallized Sugar, Sugar Trade, West Indies, Wealth and War

Posted by PITHOCRATES - May 7th, 2013

History 101

As Muslim displaced Christians from the Lands of the Roman Empire Sugar moved West

There is a war on sugar.  It’s making us fat.  And it’s making us sick.  Because it tastes so damn good.  We crave it.  And always have.  Since the first days we chewed on sugarcane.  Sucking out the juice.  Which was where that sweet delight was.  It was so good that the people in New Guinea (just north of Australia) learned how to plant it and raise it themselves.  Instead of just looking for it in the wild.  Around the eighth millennium BC.  From there it spread.  North.  To Southeast Asia.  Southern China.  And into India.  Where they took sugar to the next level.  They didn’t just chew on sugarcane to suck out the juice in India.  They refined it into a crystallized substance.  Around 350 AD.  Concentrating that sweetness.  And making it portable.  Then the Arabs entered the picture.

The Arabs took the Indian sugar-making technique and made it into big business.  They established plantations to grow it in tropical climes.  Where the two things that made sugarcane grow best—heat and water—were plentiful.  They built the first sugar mills to refine the cane.  Basically presses to squeeze out the juice.  Which they then boiled the water out of.  Leaving behind sugar crystals.  And added it to their foods.  As Muslim Arabs displaced Christians from the lands of the Roman Empire sugar moved west.  The Arabs introduced sugarcane plantations as far west as southern Spain.  When Christian Crusaders returned from fighting Muslims in the Holy Land they brought back crystallized sugar to Europe.  And they quickly fell in love with those white crystals.  By the late 13th century even England had grown a sweet-tooth.  Who would go on to consume so much of the stuff that they would rot their teeth away.

Then the Europeans entered the sugar business in the 15th century.  At first it was just the wealthy that enjoyed sugar.  Then it spread to the common people.  As demand grew they established new plantations to meet that demand.  In southern Spain.  The Atlantic island of Madeira.  The Canary Islands.  The Cape Verde islands off the west coast of Africa.  All had good growing climates for sugarcane.  And each plantation had its own processing plant.  For a ship’s hold full of crystallized sugar was far more valuable than a ship’s hold full of harvested sugarcane.  Making these plantations labor intensive endeavors.  And working the fields was backbreaking work.  To step up production required a larger labor force than was available.  And to meet that demand they turned to using African slaves.

Sugar was a Turning Point from an Agrarian World of Slaves and Indentured Servants to the Modern Industrial World

By the 16th century the Europeans were taking sugarcane across the Atlantic.  And African slaves.  The Portuguese, Spanish, Dutch, French and British brought sugarcane and slaves to Brazil, Cuba, Jamaica, Barbados, the Virgin Islands, Guadaloupe, Saint-Domingue (present day Haiti) and elsewhere in the Americas.  With the Caribbean Islands becoming the sugar capital of the world.  France’s Saint-Domingue being the single largest producer in the world.  Until their slave uprising.  It was France’s wealthiest possession in the Western Hemisphere.  And its loss changed French ambition in the New World.  For Napoleon had his eyes on rebuilding the French Empire in North America that was so rudely interrupted by France’s loss in the Seven Years’ War.  But with the loss of Saint-Domingue and all that sugar wealth Napoleon lost all interest in the New World.  And sold the Louisiana Territory to the United States.  To prepare for war with Britain.  Again.

The British and the French both had lucrative sugar plantations in the West Indies.  When the American Revolutionary War turned into a world war the British and French squared off once again.  Especially in the West Indies.  Where they wanted to protect their possessions producing that valuable sugar.  And take the other’s possessions.  So they could expand their holdings.  And their wealth from the sugar trade.  As well as put down any slave uprisings.  Such as would later happen in Saint-Domingue.  Some say the reason the British lost the American Revolutionary War was because they diverted too much of their military resources to the Caribbean.  But the French were diverting a lot of their military resources to the Caribbean, too.  Which is one reason why the war lasted 8 years.  As the French were more interested in taking the British possessions in the West Indies than American independence.  Their first efforts fighting alongside the Americans (Rhode Island in 1778.  Savannah, Georgia, in 1779) did not help the cause.  It was only when the French fleet could be spared from the action in the West Indies that they joined General Washington in trapping General Cornwallis at Yorktown in 1781.  With Cornwallis’ surrender effectively ending the war.  Even though they wouldn’t sign the final peace treaty until 1783.

By the end of the international slave trade Europeans sent approximately 10 million Africans to the New World.  Mostly to Brazil and the Caribbean.  To work in the sugar plantations.  Where slave ships left Africa.  They unloaded slaves in the New World.  Loaded the sugar these slaves grew.  Shipped the sugar back to the Old World.  Unloaded the sugar and loaded on finished goods.  Then sailed back to the African slave stations.  Where they traded their finished goods for more slaves.  There was big money in The Trade Triangle (trade from Africa to the New World to the Old World and back to Africa).  But sugar also helped to kick off the Industrial Revolution.  For the iron industry grew to make the machinery of the sugar mills.  As each plantation processed their sugarcane into crystallized sugar that was a lot of cast iron gears, sprockets, levers, axles, boilers, etc.  Basically a turning point from an agrarian world of slaves and indentured servants.  To the modern industrial world and wage-earners.

There is a Correlation between America’s Obesity Problem and the Switch from Cane Sugar to Corn Sugar

By the 19th century technology was making better sugar at lower costs.  The British designed a low-pressure boiler.  As water boils at a lower temperature when at lower pressure they were able to refine sugar with less energy.  Cutting production costs.  And waste.  As higher temperatures caramelized some of the sugar.  Though caramelized sugar can be delicious on crème brûlée you don’t want it when you’re producing crystallized sugar to sell.  Then the Americans improved this process by creating the multiple-effect evaporator.  A multi-stage device where the pressure is lower in each successive stage.  They use steam to boil water in the first stage.  This vapor then provides the energy to boil water in the next stage.  Which is at a lower pressure.  And, therefore, has a lower boiling point.  That vapor then boils water in the next stage which is at a lower pressure.  And so on.  Where one energy input creates a lot of useful work cost-efficiently.

With the advance in refining equipment refinery plants grew more complex.  And expensive.  So instead of building one on every plantation they built fewer but larger ones.  And shipped raw product to them.  Modern ships and economies of scale made this the new business model.  Companies grew and opened other refineries.  And expanded vertically.  Growing sugarcane as well as refining it.  One of the best at this was the American Sugar Refining Company.  That at one point controlled 98% of the sugar processing capacity in the United States.  Which earned it a spot on the original Dow Dozen.  The first 12 industrial stocks the Dow used in calculating their Dow Jones Industrial Average in 1896.  And remained a component of the Dow Jones Industrial Average until 1930.

Eventually the Americans couldn’t compete with foreign sugar producers any more.  They enlisted the help of Congress to impose tariffs on cane sugar imports.  Forcing Americans to pay more for their sugar.  Then they started making sugar out of government subsidized corn.  High-fructose corn syrup.  Which pretty much sweetens anything manufactured in the United States today.  That some say causes more health problems than cane sugar.  Including obesity.  Those in the high-fructose corn syrup business vehemently deny this.  But there is a correlation between America’s obesity problem and the switch from cane sugar to corn sugar.  Because of the different way the body metabolized corn sugar it did not satiate our appetite.  Leading us to over consume.  Such as with sugary drinks.  Which have gotten so large in size that New York City Mayor Bloomberg tried to make these large sizes illegal.  Because America’s over consumption of sugar was making us obese.  While Britain’s over consumption of cane sugar only rotted their teeth away.  It didn’t make them obese.  Which makes the case that corn sugar is less healthy than cane sugar.  Despite what the corn sugar lobby says.

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Greece, Rome, Western Civilization, Alexandria, Londinium, Enlightenment, Adam Smith, Free Market Capitalism and Gender Equality

Posted by PITHOCRATES - April 17th, 2012

History 101

Greece gave Western Civilization Math, Science, Engineering and Philosophy

History has been a political struggle over power.  Kings and emperors and priests and nobles had it.  While other kings and emperors and priests and nobles wanted it.  They fought wars.  They oppressed their people.  They’ve committed acts of genocide on their enemies.  And on their people.  To get that power.  To keep that power.  And that’s the way it was for a long time.  The ruling class at the top battling it out.  While the people suffer abject poverty, famine and genocide at the bottom.  Until something came along to change that.  An advanced civilization.  That could produce a food surplus.  Freeing up people to become artisans.  Specialists.  Who could invent and make things.  To make life better.  Especially for a large group of people called the middle class.

The Greeks and Romans took civilization to new heights.  When Edgar Allen Poe wrote To Helen (1845) he chose Greece and Rome to describe his most beautiful Helen.  Because Greece and Rome were that beautiful.

On desperate seas long wont to roam,
Thy hyacinth hair, thy classic face,
Thy Naiad airs have brought me home
To the glory that was Greece,
And the grandeur that was Rome.

Western Civilization began in Greece.  Food surpluses freed the great thinkers.  Math, science, engineering and philosophy took roots in Athens and spread through the Greek world.  The Hellenistic civilization.  That Alexander the Great spread east all the way to Iran and the Indus Valley.  And south into Egypt.  Where he founded the great city of Alexandria.  Repository of some of the greatest Greek books of knowledge.  When Rome conquered Greece they spread that great Hellenistic civilization east to Spain.  North to France and Germany.  Even to England.  London itself was once a Roman city.  Londinium.  And everywhere the Romans went they brought with them Greek math, science, engineering and philosophy.  Building engineering marvels.  And creating a very high standard of living.

Where the Romans went they also built roads.  Primarily to move their legions throughout their empire.  But they also used them for trade.  Where they traded the goods made by that rising middle class of artisans.  Economic activity was bustling.  Until the government grew.  To pay for an ever larger government bureaucracy and military they started taxing that economic activity.  And regulating it.  Rather harshly.  Restricting freedoms.  Eventually tying farm workers to the land.  Even their children.  Turning that once bustling economy into feudalism.  Serfdom.  Until the growth of government expenditures made the Western Empire so weak that the Germanic barbarians sacked Rome.

Enlightened Thinking and Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations helped make Great Britain the Leading European Power

While Europe went through the Dark Ages the Eastern Roman Empire continued on.  Centered on Constantinople (modern day Istanbul) on the Bosporus, she was smack-dab in the middle of the trade crossroads between Europe and Asia.  And continued to prosper economically.  Until the Arabs began attacking her.  And the Christian Crusaders.  Who came down to reclaim the holy land for the Catholic Church.  Where they fought Muslim Arabs.  As well as Orthodox Christians.  While in the area they visited the sights.  Including that great repository of books in Alexandria.  Which they packed up and brought back to Europe.  And changed the world.

As the Christian monks translated these books all of Europe read them.  Math, science, engineering and philosophy.  Kicking off the Enlightenment.  Advanced economies appeared in the Italian city-states as they controlled trade in the Mediterranean.  But with all that Greek knowledge Portugal, Spain and the Netherlands built bigger ships and learned to navigate across the oceans.  Moving the center of trade from the Mediterranean to northern Europe.  The Europeans established colonies in the Old World.  And the New World.  France and England soon followed.  Trade exploded.  And fortunes were made.  But something really special was happening in England. 

Thanks to all that enlightened thinking the English took the lead in Europe.  And the world.  Modern farming practices improved yields and created great food surpluses.  She had representative government in her Parliament.  The rule of law.  Banking institutions.  Joint-stock companies to raise large amounts of capital.  An insurance industry to manage the great risks of transoceanic trade.  And an economist up in Scotland who wrote a book about new ideas in economic thought.  Adam Smith.  Who wrote The Wealth of Nations.  Championing something he called the Invisible Hand in free market capitalism.  Taking away the economic decisions making from the kings and emperors and priests and nobles.  And giving it to the people.  Which Great Britain embraced.  Kicking off the Industrial Revolution.  Other European nations followed her lead.  As did one young upstart nation.  The United States.

Famine has been Rare in Western Civilization since the 18th Century

Western Civilization dominated the world in every measurable way.  Economic output.  Living standards.  Public health standards.  Gender equality.  You name it and the free market capitalism of Western Civilization made it better.  The general path of emigration of great minds traveled in one general direction.  From eastern/southern Europe to Germany, France and Great Britain.  Then on to the United States.  Or directly to the United States.  Where free market capitalism was the freest.  Making the Untied States the new world superpower.  Following the Industrial Revolution with even greater innovation.  Providing ever greater living standards.  And individual liberty.  For everyone.

The freedom in free market capitalism brought women into the workforce.  Take the automobile.  When Henry Ford first mass produced the car it was not people-friendly.  Men started our first cars by turning a hand crank.  Sometimes losing a finger or breaking a wrist in the process.  Once started he adjusted his goggles and gloves and took the wheel.  His face being the bug screen.  His muscles being his ‘powered’ steering.  Clutching through the gears.  Gearing down and stomping down on the breaks to stop.  It was man’s work driving our first cars.  Dirty, filthy man’s work.  The automatic starter, automatic transmission, power steering and breaks, though, changed all of that.  All American developments.  Allowing women in heels and a short dress to start and drive a car as well as any man without losing any of her dignity.  And she could sip a latte on her drive to work.  While listening to music.  And on those hot days she didn’t sweat through her clothes before getting to work.  Thanks to air conditioning.  Another American invention for the car.  And she’s able to enjoy this freedom because of some other inventions.  Two in particular that let her pursue a career.  And enjoy any activity whenever she chooses.  The birth control pill.  And the tampon.  Again, products of Western Civilization. 

Women in Western Civilization have it pretty good these days.  Where for the most part their standard of living has caught up to men.  There are some earning disparities.  But a lot of that is due to women leaving the workforce to raise children.  And then reentering at a later time.  Having to play catch-up with those who didn’t leave the workforce to raise a family.  Not too bad when you consider what women are going through where they don’t embrace free market capitalism.  For not only do they have none of these everyday comforts we take for granted but they often go without food.  Up until the 18th century famines were pretty common.  But with the advances we’ve made in farming and our other institutions we have that give us a modern and bustling economy (and our high living standards) there really haven’t been any famines in Western Civilization since the 18th century.  There may have been a few but they were very rare.  Unlike the famines in the 20th century that killed tens of millions in Russia, the Soviet Union, China, North Korea, Southwest Asia, Southeast Asia and Africa.  But famine is not the only thing killing people in these countries.  They have also suffered the greatest acts of genocides.  As rival groups battle each other for political power.  With the innocent masses stuck in the crossfire.  Something a prosperous middle class has put an end to in Western Civilization.

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Israel Rejects pre-1967 Borders, Sees it as Surrender

Posted by PITHOCRATES - May 21st, 2011

Empires Come and Empires Go

As empires go, few were as great and long lasting as the Roman Empire.  At the height of empire, the Romans ruled most of Briton, Europe, parts of Asia, the Middle East and North Africa.  The empire was so vast that the Romans split it in half.  The Western Empire survived about 500 Years.  The Eastern Empire survived about 1,500 years.  The last thousand years of the Eastern Empire, the Byzantine Empire, ruled North Africa and the Middle East.  Including the ancient Jewish homeland.

The Byzantine Empire eventually fell to Muslim invaders.  And the Christian lands of the Roman Empire became Muslim.  Including the Jewish homeland.  The Muslims conquered the previous conquerors.  And to the victors went the spoils.  Parts of the Roman Empire in Spain, North Africa, the Middle East and parts of Eastern Europe became part of a new Muslim Empire (caliphate).  There were about 1,000 years of war that expanded and contracted the empire.  At the tail end of this empire was the Ottoman Empire.  Which World War I ended.  The Ottomans were on the losing side of that war.  The British were on the winning side.  And to the victors went the spoils.  They administered the land called Palestine.  And in exchange for Jewish and Arab support in the war against the Ottomans, the British promised both land carved out of the defeated Ottoman Empire.  In the British Mandate for Palestine, the Jews would get back their Jewish homeland.

It was easier on paper, though.  There were a lot of issues to resolve.  And many of those the Arabs felt were resolved not in their best interests.  And, well, there hasn’t been peace in the Middle East since.

A Peace Settlement or a Surrender Settlement?

The Jews created their Jewish state in 1948.  Covering less than half of the ancient Jewish homeland.  The Kingdom of Israel.  The Six-Day War (1967) pushed those borders further out.  The surrounding Arab countries (Egypt, Jordan and Syria) were massing to invade Israel.  But Israel struck first.  Took out the Egyptian Air Force.  Which gave them air superiority.  That allowed them to push the Arabs back.  And take the Golan Heights from Syria.  The West Bank from Jordan.  And the Sinai Peninsula from Egypt.  They still have the Golan Heights and the West Bank.  Which serves as strategic ground against further invasions.  And they’re reluctant to give them up.  For if they do, they will become as vulnerable to attack as they were in 1967. 

In a recent speech, U.S. President Obama called for the Israelis to do just that.  To restart the Israeli-Palestinian peace process by first going back to the pre-1967 boundaries.  And that the issue of Palestinian refugees (rather, the descendants of the original refugees) will have to be negotiated.   The Israelis do not see this as negotiation.  They see it as surrender.  For the Palestinian refugees want to return to Jewish land.  So the two-state solution will have a Palestinian state and a Jewish/Palestinian state.  Surrounded by enemies that will now be closer.  And with a terrorist organization, Hamas, which has as its primary goal the destruction of Israel, now forming a unity government with Fatah.  The only thing missing from this proposal is a blindfold and cigarette for Israel.

And yet there are those who speak with indignation about the Israelis refusing to negotiate for peace (see Palestinians to proceed with U.N. recognition bid by the Associated Press posted 5/21/2011 on CBS News).

Senior Palestinian officials say that negotiations with Israel have become pointless after Israel’s prime minister rejected President Barack Obama’s call to base Mideast border talks on the pre-1967 war lines…

[Israeli Prime Minster] Netanyahu laid out hardline positions after his meeting with resident Obama at the White House on Friday. He said the 1967 borders were “indefensible,” that the Palestinians could forget about resettling Palestinian refugees in Israel and that [Palestinian President] Abbas would have to choose between peace with Israel and reconciliation with Hamas…

[Aide to Abbas] Erekat said late Friday that Netanyahu’s statements make it clear the Israeli leader is not a partner for peace, suggesting there is no point in returning to negotiations.

“I don’t think we can talk about a peace process with a man who says the 1967 lines are an illusion, that Jerusalem will be the capital of Israel, undivided, and he does not want a single (Palestinian) refugee to go back,” Erekat said. “What is left to negotiate about?”

This from a government pursuing a unity agreement with Hamas who still fires missiles into Israel.  They must know what they are asking for.  And no doubt do.  Repositioning for the final assault on Israel.  At least that’s what it must look like from the Jewish side.

To the Victors go the Spoils

Just about everyone has fought for the ancient lands of the Kingdom of Israel.  Even before King David‘s time.  Military conquest has been the diplomacy tool of choice forever.  The Jews weren’t happy to see the land wrested from them by the Romans (or the numerous conquerors before the Romans came).  The Romans weren’t happy to see the land taken by the Muslims.  And the Muslims weren’t happy to see that land taken away by the Allies with the fall of the Ottoman Empire after World War I. 

There was a lot of map redrawing after World War I.  Including in the Middle East.  Map redrawing often results in civil wars.  And the result of one of these wars was the creation of the Jewish state of Israel.  Which resulted in a refugee problem.  The Jews accepted the displaced Jews into the new Jewish state.  No Arab state wanted the displaced Arabs.  They became a people without a country.  But with a cause.

All these years later there is still no peace.  And people want to right wrongs.  To give land back to the rightful owners.  But their history suffers from tunnel vision.  They see only what they want.  The Arabs want to go back to the height of their military conquest.  Their caliphate.  For that military conquest was good.  But not the ones before.  Or the ones after.  For they agree to the victors go the spoils.  But only when they are the victors.

The problem with going back in time to correct wrongs is that history is full of past wrongs.  So how far back should we go correcting past wrongs?  Back to the original wrong?  To the first time someone took another’s land?  To undo what the Persian Empire did?  Undo what the Egyptians did?  Undo what the Sumerians did?  Undo what Homo sapiens did to the Neanderthals

You can go back forever and find a people that wronged another.  It is our history.  And a violent history at that.  But as we became more civilized we became less violent.  More of us are able to live together.  Peacefully.  And that is the direction we should continue to progress.  We need to stop living in the past.  To stop using that diplomacy tool we call military conquest.  The days of military expansionism are over.  Or should be over.  And you shouldn’t use diplomatic negotiation as a ruse to prepare for a military conquest.  Which it looks like the Palestinian side is doing in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.

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The U.S. Killed a Marginalized Osama bin Laden before they Rebuilt the World Trade Center Site

Posted by PITHOCRATES - May 7th, 2011

Despite losing the Hearts and Minds, the Violence will go On

Osama bin Laden is dead and gone.  So what is his legacy?  A great Martyr?  Or just a silly old man who lost touch with the Muslim world who did not quite want as an austere life as he thought they should have (see The Osama drama: Is the play over? by Michael Hudson posted 5/7/2011 on Al Jazeera)?

But it was not only the denial of a media platform that marginalised him. It was also his script: to most Arabs and Muslims the idea of a new caliphate enforcing an austere – and not widely accepted – form of Islamic rule was a bloodless abstraction and not very appealing at that. So, while he drew strength by articulating violent resistance against deeply held grievances, he failed to offer, as it were, a “happy ending”.

How galling it must have been for him, isolated in his Pakistani villa, to watch huge audiences across the Arab world following a new and different script. Nowhere in the wave of mass protests that began last December were there banners for bin Laden or calls for a salafi order; nowhere were there chants for violence – even when unarmed protesters were brutally attacked by regime security forces. Osama was upstaged by new actors with a new script and an audience that chose not to sit as passive observers of the political scene – but actually insisted on participation in governance and public affairs.

You can almost hear his lament.  “These kids today.  When I was out there killing people it meant something.  Today they don’t care.  It’s just a little fun for young people who love to whine about the great problems in their lives.  She doesn’t love me.  My parents won’t buy me an iPhone.  While I was trying to establish a new caliphate they just wanted to ‘friend’ others on Facebook.  Whatever that means.  *sigh*  Jihad isn’t what it used to be…Get off of my lawn you snot-nose kids!  Don’t make me come out there.”

It was a battle for the heart and minds of real Muslims.  And apparently, he lost (see Al-Qaeda is its own worst enemy by Alia Brahimi posted 5/7/2011 on Al Jazeera).

Though al-Qaeda will be temporarily re-energised by the killing of bin Laden, it will not be enough to build up the sort of momentum and broad-based sympathy that they enjoyed at the height of the US-led occupation of Iraq. Between 2003-2006 in particular, bin Laden’s poetic narrative of resistance resonated even beyond the Muslim world. A German student in my halls at Oxford once returned from a trip home sporting a bin Laden t-shirt. George W Bush’s “war on terror” did not win the struggle for hearts and minds – fortunately, however, al-Qaeda lost it.

Yes, al Qaeda lost their way.  They became ideologically soft in their brutal acts of terrorism.  Violence for violence sake.  Missing the big picture.  Like Uncle Osama preached.  To make everyone live under the most harsh and austere Sharia Law possible.  That’s why the Americans lost the Vietnam War.  They lost the hearts and minds.  The North Vietnamese never lost their faith.  Or their belief in Uncle Ho.  Of course, victory for them included a happy ending.  Which makes it easier to follow someone to the bitter end.  Because the end won’t necessarily be so bitter.

So the violence will go on.  It just won’t serve some higher purpose.

What a Terrible way to Spend a Decade

It took about 10 years to kill Osama bin Laden.  That’s a long time.  A lot can happen in 10 years.  You can build buildings.  A lot of them.  For example, they built the Empire State Building in only 410 days.  That’s about a month longer than one year.  And this during the Great Depression.  Not to mention the fact that it was the tallest building in the world at the time.  Says a lot about New Yorkers.  Even in the worst of times, they’re tough and strong and can do anything you ask of them.  So I imagine the new World Trade Center site should be showing great progress in almost 10 years.  Because some of the best people in the world were there to rebuild that site (see A World Trade Center Progress Report by Bill Marsh posted 5/7/2011 on The New York Times).

It will take much longer than that to heal the gaping wound in the Lower Manhattan cityscape. Blame politics, finances, legalities and the challenge of making the many compromises necessary for such an enormous reconstruction effort. But after spending much time on cleanup and foundation work, progress is ever more visible: The soaring 1 World Trade Center and another skyscraper are rising by about one floor per week; a spacious memorial is to open on the 10th anniversary of the attack this fall.

You know what you call an empty World Trade Center site?  A memorial to al Qaeda.  Rebuilding this site faster would have meant a lot more than a dead bin Laden.  I can’t imagine the frustration of the New York building trades this past decade.  What a terrible way to spend a decade.

A Better way to Spend a Decade

I can think of a far better way to put a decade to good use (see Whiskey is all about the waiting by Jason Wilson posted 5/6/2011 on The Washington Post).

Barrel aging is one of the most noteworthy aspects of whiskey making. It endlessly fascinates me that producers will take a clear “white dog” whiskey off the still at eyebrow-singeing proof, pour it into a barrel and let the liquid sit and mellow inside the wood — sometimes for decades.

Magical things happen inside that barrel in terms of flavor, texture and aroma. Beyond what sort of wood is used, the location of where the barrel sits in the warehouse matters greatly — a barrel sitting at ground level ages differently than one resting on a higher floor. In this way, the warehouse becomes a man-made terroir — similar to a winery, in which grapes from different geographic locations will take on different characteristics.

I’ve previously discussed the importance of aging and blending in the process of making whiskey. The craft of distillation is certainly of utmost importance — if mediocre whiskey comes off the still, it’s not going to get better after 10 years in a barrel. But how whiskey ages in a barrel is just as critical.

I’m sipping a bourbon right now as I write.  It’s not a ten-year bourbon.  But it’s okay.  There’s some texture to it.  And it warms the belly.  But I know what I’ll be buying tomorrow.

In this week’s column, I discuss Buffalo Trace’s new Single Oak Project, which is part of the distillery’s larger two-decade search for the Holy Grail of bourbon…

This happened with the bourbons I wrote about this week. The man who went into the Ozarks to choose the white oaks for the Single Oak Project was named Ronnie Eddins, Buffalo Trace’s long-time warehouse manager. If you go to the Single Oak Project Web site, you actually can see videos of Eddins chatting with the loggers of those trees. Throughout the aging process, he was instrumental in creating these bourbons. Sadly, Eddins died earlier this year. He did not live to see the Single Oak Project bottled and sent to market.

Poor Ronnie Eddins.  He didn’t live to see the day Osama bin Laden paid for his crimes.  To see new buildings rising triumphantly on the World Trade Center site.  Or taste what he so lovingly brought to market.  Rest in peace, Ronnie.  Know that you brought enjoyment to others.  And that we smile as we raise a glass in your honor.

www.PITHOCRATES.com

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LESSONS LEARNED #31: “Islam and guns are a lot alike. And yet when something bad happens, we try to ban one and forgive the other.” -Old Pithy

Posted by PITHOCRATES - September 16th, 2010

PEACE IN OUR TIME

What do you know about the Goths?  The Visigoths?  The Ostrogoths?  The Vandals?  The Franks.  Do you even know who these people are?  The Romans did.  And they were a pain in their ass.

The Great Migration of Huns from Asia into Europe displaced these European Germanic tribes.  Which brought them into contact with the Roman Empire.  The Romans then brought some into the empire.  First into the legions that were protecting the frontier against these displaced Germanic tribes.  Then some Germans commanded these legions.  Then the Romans built entire legions from these Germanic people.  Germans faced Germans on the frontier.  Loyalties tugged between empire and blood.  When the empire began to crumble, blood often won out.  And when the Western Roman Empire fell, these Germanic tribes stepped into the void.  Picked up the Roman banner and became the Holy Roman Empire.  Some of the Germanic tribes founded nations.  Spain, France and England.  But not Germany.  Not yet.

 It took the Franco-Prussian War (1870) to unite the German people into a nation.  And into the dominate Central European power at that.  That dominance ended in 1919 with the Treaty of Versailles.  Germany lost Alsace-Lorraine (which they took during the Franco-Prussian War).  She lost territory that became a reconstituted Poland (which separated her from East Prussia).  She had to take sole responsibility for causing World War I (which was unfair to say the least).  And pay reparations to the victors that would take forever and a day to pay.  The German people were not happy.  As was a decorated army corporal.  Adolf Hitler.

Hitler made it clear that he was going to restore the German empire.  The third in the line of empires.  A Third Reich.  Successor to the Holy Roman Empire.  And it would last a thousand years.  He established the official Nazi ideology (racial purity and the Master Race).  He renounced portions of the Versailles Treaty.  Began to rearm.  These actions worried the Allies.  But Hitler assuaged their worries in a speech given 5/21/1935.  He said Germany wanted peace.  And only peace.  The Allies breathed a collective sigh of relief.  Then he remilitarized the Rhineland.  Annexed Austria.  Then came Munich.  Great Britain’s Prime Minister, Neville Chamberlain, met with Hitler, concerned.  Hitler assured Chamberlain that this was his last territorial grab.  After all, Germany wanted peace.  And only peace.  So those at Munich gave the Czechoslovakian Sudetenland to Germany.  (Incidentally, the Czechs weren’t at Munich).  Chamberlain returned to England announcing they had attained “peace for our time.”  Soon thereafter, Germany took the rest of Czechoslovakia.  And one non-aggression pact with the Soviet Union to partition Poland later, Hitler invaded Poland, starting World War II.  So, no, they did not have peace in for their time.

FROM STETTIN IN THE BALTIC TO TRIESTE IN THE ADRIATIC AN IRON CURTAIN HAS DESCENDED ACROSS THE CONTINENT

Franklin Delano Roosevelt loved Joseph Stalin.  He liked what he was doing in the Soviet Union.  Now there was some Big Government doing big things.  Just like he was doing.  Only on a grander scale.  Then that non-aggression pact with Nazi Germany just broke his heart.  But the gods were smiling down on FDR.  Hitler turned on Stalin and invaded the Soviet Union.  Killed some 20 million Soviets.  FDR was elated.  He could embrace Uncle Joe again.

FDR said he could talk to Stalin.  Turn on the old FDR charm.  So he tried.  At the Yalta Conference where the Big Three (FDR, Churchill and Stalin) discussed the post-war world.  His plan was bold.  Give Stalin everything.  Ask for nothing.  And then Uncle Joe will work with him in establishing world peace and democracy.  He had a hunch it would work.  I mean, once he turned on that FDR charm, well, FDR got what FDR wanted.

But his administration was full of Soviet spies.  He stayed in the Soviet embassy (to show his trust of Stalin).  They bugged it.  The Soviets knew everything.  Not a strong negotiating position.  For FDR and Churchill, that is.  It was a very strong position for Stalin.  He could whisper whatever sweet nothings FDR wanted to hear.  Lie through his teeth.  In the end, he got Eastern Europe.  Instead of a Nazi occupation, it would now be a Soviet occupation.  Some saw Stalin for who he was.  Winston Churchill, for one.  Later, in 1946, he tried to warn us about Stalin.  He came to America and spoke at Westminster College in Fulton, Missouri.  He said:

“From Stettin in the Baltic to Trieste in the Adriatic an iron curtain has descended across the Continent. Behind that line lie all the capitals of the ancient states of Central and Eastern Europe. Warsaw, Berlin, Prague, Vienna, Budapest, Belgrade, Bucharest and Sofia, all these famous cities and the populations around them lie in what I must call the Soviet sphere, and all are subject in one form or another, not only to Soviet influence but to a very high and, in some cases, increasing measure of control from Moscow.”

The old warhorse was right.  Stalin had no visions of democracy.  He wanted to conquer.  To spread communism.  And he did.  In Eastern Europe.  Wherever the Red Army was at the end of World War II the Red Army stayed.  Where they weren’t he tried to use the local communist parties (i.e., the Fifth Columns) in their stead.  To stir up trouble.  Eat away the nations from within.  To gradually convert them to communism.  Sometimes he used blunt force.  As in the coup d’état in Czechoslovakia.   American aid helped Western Europe, Greece and Turkey to rebuff Stalin’s advances there.  West Berlin, inside of East Germany behind the Iron Curtain, was a thorn in his side.  So he tried to blockade it.  Which we relieved with the Berlin Airlift.  Our guy in China (Chiang Kai-shek) lost to Mao Tse-tung in the Chinese Civil War making most of Asia communist.  This was the Cold War.  East vs. West.  Communism vs. Democracy.  The Soviet Union vs. the United States.  The Cold War at times got hot.  As the two superpowers fought each other by proxy.  In Korea.  Cuba (the Bay of Pigs was the hot part.  The more dangerous part was the cold part, playing nuclear chicken).  Vietnam.  The Iran-Iraq War.  Nicaragua.  And in a place called Afghanistan.

MR. GORBACHEV, TEAR DOWN THIS WALL

The Soviet Union supplied a lot of military hardware that killed a lot of Americans in the Vietnam War.  We returned the favor in Afghanistan.  And helped liberate the Afghanis from the Soviet Occupation.  The Soviet mechanized army and their Hind attack helicopters fought an impoverished and ill-equipped force.  The Mujahedeen.  Who soon got international support.  And U.S. antiaircraft Stinger missiles.  And the Soviet Union had their Vietnam.

Ronald Reagan grew weary of the Cold War.  He wanted to end it.  He understood collectivism.  And he knew history.  Capitalism worked.  Collectivism didn’t.  So he would turn up the pressure.  While the Soviets bled money in Afghanistan, he modernized our nuclear forces.  Proposed the Strategic Defense Initiative.  Spent money on defense.  And gave America an unprecedented decade of prosperity.  The Soviets tried to keep pace.  But couldn’t.  They couldn’t even feed their own people.  On June 12, 1987, in front of the Berlin Wall, at the Brandenburg Gate, Reagan said:

“We welcome change and openness; for we believe that freedom and security go together, that the advance of human liberty can only strengthen the cause of world peace. There is one sign the Soviets can make that would be unmistakable, that would advance dramatically the cause of freedom and peace. General Secretary Gorbachev, if you seek peace, if you seek prosperity for the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, if you seek liberalization, come here to this gate. Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate. Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!”

In time he did.  Or, rather, stopped trying to prevent it from happening.  And Reagan consigned the Evil Empire to the “ash heap of history.”  Which left the Mujahedeen well armed, well financed and without a fight.

TO THE VICTORS GO THE SPOILS

The Western Roman Empire fell to the Germanic tribes but the Eastern Empire held on for a few more centuries.  It wouldn’t be the Germans causing her ultimate demise.  No.  The Eastern Empire fall to the Arabs.  Islam spread west from the Arabian desert into Egypt and across North Africa and up into Spain.  Saladin (revered Islamic hero) wrested the Holy Land from the Christians and then fought off the Christian Crusades when they tried to take it back.  Islam advanced across the Bosporus and into the Balkans before the European Christians finally stopped them.  A good chunk of the Christian Roman Empire was now Muslim.  And remained so for centuries.  Until World War I.  When Ottoman Turkey was on the losing side of the Great War.

After the war, Great Britain occupied some of the former Muslim lands.  Protected the Suez Canal for her shipping lanes to India and the Far East.  And to her oil interests.  Also, the League of Nations designated that Great Britain should administer the territory comprised of Palestine and Transjordan.  This British Mandate also included a provision for a future Jewish homeland in the Palestine territory.  Long story short, that happened in 1947 when the United Nations General Assembly voted to partition these territories into Jewish and Arab states.  The following year, May 14, the day before the British Mandate expired, the state of Israel came into existence. 

The Arabs didn’t agree to that deal.  Of course, the Jews didn’t like the Roman occupation.  And the Christians didn’t like the Muslim occupation of the Holy Land.  But to the victors go the spoils.  Not enjoying being on the loser’s side, they wanted Palestine back.  In fact, they want all of the land that used to be Muslim back.  Lands they gained by military conquest but later lost to military conquest.  They want to re-conquer lost land.  And conquer new.  One man in particular.  A Saudi who joined the Mujahedeen.  Osama bin Laden.  Who would lead his unemployed freedom fighters into a new line of work.  In a new organization.  Al Qaeda.

WORLD CONQUEST ISN’T NEW

The Romans conquered the known world.  Hitler had ambitious plans to do the same.  Ditto for Stalin.  (Even Mussolini wanted to restore the Roman Empire.)  And on 9/11/2001, that’s what Osama bin Laden was trying to do.  His devastating attack on the U.S. was to cause a spontaneous uprising by Muslims throughout the world.  There was none.  He failed.  He would be no Saladin.  He would rule little more than a network of caves on the Afghanistan/Pakistan border.  And be remembered as just another terrorist.  But his dream is shared by others.  And they’ve no doubt learned a lot from the Nazis.  And the Communists. 

There are elements within Islam, the so-called few who pervert this great religion of peace, that want to see bin Laden’s vision realized.  They’re using force.  Lying.  Trying to convert from within.  And turn to our constitution whenever anyone confronts them.  But these ambassadors of peace won’t condemn terrorist organizations or recognize the state of Israel.  They demand that everyone accommodate Islam while Islam accommodates only Islam.  They say that the U.S. was responsible for 9/11.  Even that the U.S. orchestrated 9/11 and blamed it on the Muslim world.  There is cause for concern.

A FEW IS ENOUGH

Not all Germans were Nazis but we still fought Nazi ideology.  We fought the communist ideology because it called for the conquest of western capitalism.  Ideology counts.  Not all Muslims are ‘the few who pervert’ but we should, at least, be on our guard against Islam.  Because how do we know who is lying?  If we err on the side of caution, all Americans (including Muslim Americans) are safe.  If we don’t, Americans can die.  Including Muslim Americans.

History has shown that the descendents of empire want to restore empire.  That people who lost land want to get that land back.  And ideological purity kills people.  That tells me we should be wary of a highly ideological people who once had an empire and desperately covets land.  And if we can’t know who those few are, it would be irresponsible not to be on our guard against anyone who might be one of those few. 

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