Somalis now have Hope even though they Skip Meals to Make Ends Meet

Posted by PITHOCRATES - October 20th, 2012

Week in Review

Life in Somalia has been exceptionally hard.  Sadly, it’s a recurring theme in some African nations.  Who are ruled more by the gun than the law.  And during near constant warfare there has been little chance for the Rule of Law and capitalism to take root and flourish.  To develop a middle class where people can go to work while their kids go to school.  And then come home at the end of their day to share a family meal and pursue some family activities.  Or simply watch television in the peace and comfort of their living rooms.  Things we take for granted in nations under the Rule of Law and capitalism.  Now there is another change of political leadership in Somalia.  And people are returning home after years of exile.  People have hope.  Even if they have to skip meals to help make ends meet (see Somalis ‘free’ but have no food, water by SARA MOJTEHEDZADEH posted 10/13/2012 on The East African).

But as confidence marks a new era of political leadership in Somalia, experts are warning that over two million Somalis continue to survive on a knife edge.

According to a recent study by Oxfam, many regions of Somalia are confronting severe food and water shortfalls as a result of poor rains.

The survey of 1,800 households found that 72 per cent were worried about their food supply in coming months as a result of this year’s poor “Gu” rains — the season between April and June that supplies Somalia with the rainfall vital for its September harvest. Nearly half of those surveyed habitually skipped meals to make ends meet…

“Any further shocks without proper assistance could take Somalia back to previous conditions, but that’s very unlikely now due to weakening anti-government forces and as more and more areas come under the control of the current government,” said Tamara Nanitashvili, the acting head of FSNAU…

“Many of those who have been displaced or who lost everything during the famine and conflict and want to return will need to be assisted to resume their farming or herding. Greater security can help tremendously to achieve these things,” she said.

In America the Democrats have attacked Mitt Romney about his ‘47%’ remark.  Saying that he believes nearly have the population are just lazy people living off of government benefits.  (Which he didn’t mean.  What he meant was that it was going to be virtually impossible to get people receiving government benefits to vote for the guy NOT promising to increase them.  As once people receive some benefit they are not happy to lose it.  As demonstrated throughout Europe with all of those austerity riots.)  That he would cut these benefits.  Hurting the people that need them most.  While at the same time President Obama’s wife is leading a drive to fight childhood obesity.  And attacking fat people in general.  The mayor of New York City has restricted the size of sodas people can buy because we are too fat.  Our health care costs are out of control because people are too fat.  Yet we need more government benefits, not fewer.  Because people would starve without them.  Even though we have an obesity problem.  Unlike the Somalis.  Who have to skip meals to make ends meet.

So on the one hand we are too fat.  While on the other we’re going to bed hungry.  Which is what we call a paradox.  Because both statements cannot be true.  If we are too fat then we can’t be going to bed hungry.  And if we’re going to bed hungry we can’t be too fat.  If both statements cannot be true then the political left must be lying about one of them.

In Somalia there is no paradox.  They’re going to bed hungry.  Because they’re skipping meals to make ends meet.  And because they are skipping meals they don’t have an obesity problem.  Somalis know true poverty.  And true hunger.  They would probably love to have the chance to suffer hunger the way they do in America.  For at least they could go to bed without the gnawing hunger in their stomachs.

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Another terrorist attack in Nairobi, Kenya

Posted by PITHOCRATES - October 29th, 2011

Week in Review

More trouble in the greater Middle East.  Well, more around the Horn of Africa.  But it’s an Islamic problem (see Second big blast heard in Kenyan capital; injuries by Reuters posted 10/24/2011 on the Chicago Tribune).

A large blast was heard in the Kenyan capital Nairobi on Monday evening, a Reuters witness reported. Kenyan media said the blast had been at a bus stop, and that people had been injured.

Earlier on Monday a grenade exploded in a Nairobi bar, wounding 13 people, two days after the U.S. embassy in Kenya warned that an attack was imminent as the east African nation fights Islamist militants in neighboring Somalia.

The U.S. pulled out of their aid mission to Somalia back in 1995.  Islamist terrorists bombed the U.S. embassy in Nairobi, Kenya, in 1998.  And Somali pirates are menacing the waters off the Horn of Africa.  Not quite the stable area.

We demanded that Hosni Mubarak step down in Egypt.  During the Arab Spring.  The supposed dawn of democracy in the region.  But we’re not seeing democracy.  Yet.  Muslims are attacking Christians.  And the government doesn’t do much to stop it.  That didn’t happen under Mubarak.

Not learning the lesson of Egypt, we went into Libya.  And supported the rebel opposition.  Even though we did not know who they were.  And after learning that there are elements of extreme Islamism in the opposition.  And so Gaddafi is dead.  Killed without a trial by the rebels.  (Saddam Hussein got a trial).  So what’s next?  Democracy?  Like in Egypt?

Pulling out of Iraq?  Cutting military spending?  Put it all together and one thing is for sure.  It doesn’t give you a warm fuzzy.

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The Problem with the Occupy Wall Street People is that they don’t Know the Difference between Capitalism and Crony Capitalism

Posted by PITHOCRATES - October 15th, 2011

Bank Tellers have a Job because they didn’t go to College to get a Philosophy or an English Degree

Another proud day for American public education and American colleges (see Protesters arrested in bank march, party in Times Square by Georgett Roberts, Jennifer Bain and Kevin Fasick posted 10/15/2011 on the New York Post).

The “Crossroads of the World” were jammed when thousands of anti-greed protesters brought their party to Times Square, capping a day of marches marred by the arrest of more than 20 who stormed a Citibank branch.

And what do they want?  A lot of free stuff.  The greedy little bastards.

Brought their ‘party’?  Yeah, that about sums up these beatniks on Wall Street.  For them life is nothing but a party.  And a protest is an even better party.  I mean, look at them.  They’re having the time of their lives.

Earlier, 24 protesters were arrested when a mob stormed a LaGuardia Place Citibank and shouted slogans as two demonstrators closed their bank accounts in protest just after 2 p.m.

I hope they find a safe place for that money.  There are a lot of desperate people out there who need money.  And it would have been a lot harder for them to get at that money if they had left it locked in a bank.

They were screaming and chanting while they were going in. Security told them to leave, but they didn’t. They stood in a group chanting things to the tellers. There were locked in, and then they were taken away.”

If I’m not mistaken bank tellers aren’t part of that superrich 1%.  No.  They’re probably a part of that 99%.  Like the protesters.  Only they have a job.  Unlike the protestors.  Because they didn’t go to college to get a philosophy or English degree.

“We went into the bank to peacefully protest,” she said. “People were standing in the bank giving testimonials, speaking about their student debt, some of which is held by Citibank and a few undercover police officers came into the bank”

These people partied for 4 years (or more) while going to college getting their worthless degrees.  And learning how to hate America.  And the man.  And now they’re bitching to complete strangers about their own bad decisions?  Taking on debt for some BS degree?  Mom and Dad probably warned them not to do that.  To get a degree in something useful instead.  Like business.  Accounting.  Chemistry.  Something that has value in the economy.  But did they listen?  Apparently not.

He said he paid $559 annually in fees to the bank, including late charges.

“I’ve been wanting to move my money for awhile. But this opened my eyes,” he said of his experiences. “I’m going to use a community-based bank for my funds.”

This is just like someone living in East Berlin at the height of the Cold War waiting for their chance to escape to West Berlin.  To scale the Berlin Wall.  Before the East Germans shot him.  Or her.  Of course, there are some subtle differences.  East Germany was an oppressive police state that killed people trying to escape.  While America is a free county.  With a free market.  Where you can move your money to any bank you wish.  Without the threat of being gunned down by the state.

We call this free market capitalism.  Businesses compete for you business by pleasing you more than their competition.  You don’t need a law to make banks please you.  If you don’t like how a bank is treating you, leave.  All you have to do is open a new account.  Withdraw your money from the old account.  And deposit it into the new account.  It’s that easy.  It sure is a hell of a lot easier than trying to
climb a barbwire wall under withering machine gun fire.

If Government Favoritism Bothers you Perhaps you should Direct your Angst at Washington D.C. at the Next Election

These protestors may hate capitalism.  Because they were taught that on our college campuses.  But they sure love some of its billionaires.  Even though they belong to that 1% (see Protesters should not target entrepreneurs like Steve Jobs by Antony Davies posted 10/12/2011 on The Morning Call).

Steve Jobs, the co-founder of Apple who died last week at age 56, left the world a better place than he found it — and not just because of the treasure trove of gadgets he shepherded into creation.

Mr. Jobs’ life is a testament to what economists have long been telling us — that wealth and plunder are not the same thing. Plunder is what you get when you take from others. Wealth is what you get when you give to others.

Due to his commercial success, Mr. Jobs accumulated $8 billion of wealth over his life. But you won’t see Occupy Wall Street protesters coming after Jobs or Apple because it is so obvious that we freely gave our money to him in exchange for his products. We don’t view Jobs’ wealth as plunder, but as one-half of a transaction. We gave him $8 billion and he gave us the world that science fiction authors promised.

We voluntarily gave our money to billionaire like Steve Jobs.  The Occupy Wall Street mob is trying to take money from others.  The Steve Jobs of the world create wealth because they please us.  People like those on Wall Street threaten us for plunder or else.  Steve Jobs good.  Plunderers bad.

The young protesters currently occupying Wall Street should be careful where they direct their ire. People like Steve Jobs who gained their wealth by providing value to others — including the protesters using iPhones to call their friends — shouldn’t be the subject of protest. The protesters should focus their ire on those who use the political process to gain plunder by forcing the rest of us to subsidize their losing business models.

Some of these pirates can be found on Wall Street. They benefited when the government forced taxpayers to underwrite Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac’s largesse, and they benefited when the government forced taxpayers to bail out the companies that bet on that largesse.

But they’re not just in New York City.

Let us not forget that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are Government Sponsored Enterprises.  With close ties to the government.  Executing government policy.  And being under the official oversight of the government.  In particular, at the time of the subprime mortgage crisis, Barney Frank and Chris Dodd.  Who kept saying there’s nothing wrong with Freddie or Fannie.  That they were both as sound as a pound.  All the way up to the Great Recession.  Which they caused.

Pirates can be found on Main Street, where businessmen ask the government to create an unfair licensing system that will hamstring their competitors. They can be found in the public sector, where public unions ask the government to maintain a system that forces us to use the U.S. Postal Service to send first-class mail. Some can even be found on the farm, when they fight to maintain government requirements to put ethanol in our gas tanks and pay huge tariffs on imported sugar.

Here’s my point. Pirates can be found in all cities, and in all sectors, but their power to plunder has its source in one city: Washington, D.C. The federal government and the businesses that use political ties to force their products on consumers aren’t creating value — they’re enriching themselves at our expense. If protesters want to stop the plunder, then they are protesting in the wrong place.

That’s right, it takes two to tango.  And to plunder.  Lobbyists can’t lobby politicians unless they’re for sale.  Corporations can’t plunder unless they have cronies in Washington letting them.  By restricting competition.  And this is the key difference between capitalism (such as Steve Jobs used) and crony capitalism (such as what everyone is pissed off about).  It’s is crony capitalism that gets special favors from government.  In exchange for campaign contributions.

So if this kind of government favoritism bothers you, perhaps you should direct your angst to those who make the rules.  Washington D.C.  And by that I mean at the voting booth at the next election.  The way real democracy works.

The Occupy Wall Street Protestors have no Idea about Capital, Labor, Regulatory, Distribution, Insurance or Piracy Costs

And speaking of piracy, let’s talk about that a little.  And I’m not talking about bootlegging music or movies.  I’m not about literal pirates on the high seas (see Prepare to repel boarders posted 10/13/2011 on The Economist).

SOMALI pirates can be persistent. They have attacked the Maersk Alabama, a container ship owned by an American subsidiary of Denmark’s Maersk Line, no fewer than five times, most recently in May. In the first attack, in 2009, the captain was held hostage until the US Navy rescued him. Then Maersk put private armed guards on the ship. Since then, it has successfully repelled all boarders.

Maersk says it is only arming a few ships plying the pirate-infested waters off East Africa. But the practice is spreading rapidly among shipping firms despite the cost, which can run to $100,000 per voyage for a four-man team. That is because the number of attacks, off Somalia and elsewhere, has kept growing despite the strengthening of naval patrols (see chart). The European Union’s NAVFOR task-force, NATO warships and other navies patrol the waters off Somalia, but this has only pushed the pirates out into the open ocean, extending their attack zone towards India’s coast and as far south as Mozambique’s. This has forced the shipping industry, its insurers, and the national and international authorities that oversee them to accept that private armed guards are a necessity.

American ships plying these waters are bringing American-made goods to overseas markets.  Which everyone agrees is vital to our economy.  A positive balance of trade.  More exports.  Less imports.  And here we are trying to deliver our exports.  And having our ships hijacked by pirates.

Protestors hate corporations.  Because that’s where rich people sit back with their feet up on their desk puffing away on their fat cigars.  While counting their money.  At least, that’s what the protestors think.  They have no idea about the capital costs for plant and equipment.  Labor costs.  Regulatory costs.  Distribution (container ships ain’t cheap).  Insurance.  And, of course, piracy on the high seas and ransom demands.

Protestors are no fans of military spending, either.  They think the military is used just to invade other countries so we can steal their oil.  Well, they can’t blame this Somali piracy on America.  For the Somalis are stealing from anyone.  And nations everywhere have banded together to try and protect their trade routes.  But can’t.  Which is pretty sad.  Because during World War II we eventually defeated the U-Boat menace in the North Atlantic.  Of course, back then, we spent what was necessary on the military to win.  Unlike today.  Where the military budget is just a source of funds the Wall Street protestors want to plunder.

The Occupy Wall Street protestors are Acting like Spoiled Children, Like a Bunch of Eric Cartmans

The Occupy Wall Street protestors hate banks.  Capital formation.  Corporations.  That is, capitalism.  How do we know this?  Because they have told us.  Via Twitter.  Blogs.  YouTube.  Which they wrote and/or recorded on their Apple products.  And uploaded it to the Internet.  That we then downloaded on our Apple products.  Or other devices.  All of which made possible by banks, capital formation and corporations.  That is, capitalism.

These kids love capitalism.  They love the toys capitalism offers.  They just hate not being born into privilege.  Where they can afford to satisfy every want and urge as soon as they have it.  Without having to work hard or wait until they can afford to pay for these things.  They’re acting like spoiled children.  Like a bunch of Eric Cartmans.  Except for that part about being a bunch of filthy, stinking hippies.  For everyone knows that hippies are the bane of Cartman’s existence.  But apart from that one difference, these protestors are Eric Cartman.

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LESSONS LEARNED #25: “War is costly. Peace, too.” -Old Pithy

Posted by PITHOCRATES - August 5th, 2010

AT THE HEIGHT of the Roman Empire, the empire reached from North Africa to Britannia (England), from Hispania (Spain) to Mesopotamia (approximately modern day Iraq).  When Roman power ruled the civilized world, there was peace.  The Pax Romana (Roman Peace).  The Romans built empire through conquest.  And Rome grew rich with the spoils of conquest.  For awhile, peace was only those quiet intervals between growth and conquest.  But with secure borders, a uniform government, a rule of law, a stable currency, bustling trade & markets and a military to be the world’s policeman, peace broke out.  For some 200 years.

Life was good for the Roman citizen.  As well as for those living in the empire.  The Romans modernized the provinces they conquered.  Made life better.  Even for the conquered people.  Although there were those who hated being subjugated by a foreign power.

Reg: They bled us white, the bastards. They’ve taken everything we had. And not just from us! From our fathers, and from our father’s fathers.

Loretta: And from our father’s father’s fathers.

Reg: Yeah.

Loretta: And from our father’s father’s father’s fathers.

Reg: Yeah, all right Stan, don’t belabor the point. And what have they ever given us in return?

Revolutionary I: The aqueduct?

Reg: What?

Revolutionary I: The aqueduct.

Reg: Oh. Yeah, yeah, they did give us that, ah, that’s true, yeah.

Revolutionary II: And the sanitation.

Loretta: Oh, yeah, the sanitation, Reg. Remember what the city used to be like.

Reg: Yeah, all right, I’ll grant you the aqueduct and sanitation, the two things the Romans have done.

Matthias: And the roads.

Reg: Oh, yeah, obviously the roads. I mean the roads go without saying, don’t they? But apart from the sanitation, the aqueduct, and the roads…

Revolutionary III: Irrigation.

Revolutionary I: Medicine.

Revolutionary IV: Education.

Reg: Yeah, yeah, all right, fair enough.

Revolutionary V: And the wine.

All revolutionaries except Reg: Oh, yeah! Right!

Rogers: Yeah! Yeah, that’s something we’d really miss Reg, if the Romans left. Huh.

Revolutionary VI: Public bathes.

Loretta: And it’s safe to walk in the streets at night now, Reg.

Rogers: Yeah, they certainly know how to keep order. Let’s face it; they’re the only ones who could in a place like this.

All revolutionaries except Reg: Hahaha…all right…

Reg: All right, but apart from the sanitation, the medicine, education, wine, public order, irrigation, roads, the fresh-water system and public health, what have the Romans ever done for us?

Revolutionary I: Brought peace?

Reg: Oh, peace! Shut up!

(From Monty Python’s The Life of Brian, 1979.)

Maintaining a peaceful empire is costly.  As people got more accustomed to peace and plenty, they began to complain about taxes.  Citizens refused to volunteer to serve in the Roman Legions maintaining that peace.  Barbarians began to serve in the Legions.  Some rose to command them.  Some Roman commanders came from the very people they were fighting in the border regions.  Soon Rome would rely on mercenaries (hired soldiers) to defend their borders.  All of this cost the empire.  It had to pay more and more to maintain the loyalty of the military.  Ditto for the huge bureaucracy administrating the empire.  And they lost control.  Trouble on the borders and economic collapse ended the peace.  And, ultimately, the empire.  The civilized world broke down and collapsed.  And barbarian leaders on the borders, hungry for conquest, attacked.  Plunging the former Roman provinces into war and instability.

RISING FROM THE ashes of the Roman Empire were the seeds of new empires.  And the ground that proved most fertile was the northern limit of the old empire.  England.

England started to assert herself with the growth of her navy.  With her borders secured, a uniform government, a rule of law, a stable currency, bustling trade & markets and a military to be the world’s policeman, peace broke out.  Again.  For about a hundred years.  During the Industrial Revolution.  After the defeat of Napoleon. 

Imperial Britain stretched across the globe.  The sun never set on the British Empire.  And wherever she went, she brought the rule of law, modernity, a sound economy and political stability.  Her old colonial possessions went on to be some of the richest, most prosperous and peaceful nations in the world.  India.  Australia.  New Zealand.  South Africa.  Canada.  And, of course, the United States of America.  She achieved her century of peace (Pax Britannia) by a balance of power.  She maintained peace by intervening in disputes, often on the side of the weaker nation.  She prevented stronger, aggressive nations from threatening her weaker neighbors.   And she provided a safe environment for the weaker nation to live peacefully in the shadows of stronger, more aggressive neighbors.

For a hundred years Britannia kept the peace.  In large part due to her Royal Navy, the most powerful and potent navy at the time.  If you ate any imported food or used any imported goods, it was thanks to the Royal Navy that kept the world’s sea lanes safe.  But this peace came with a price.  The rise of nationalism, the quest of new empires to establish their own overseas colonies and a change in the balance of power in Europe with the rise of Germany added to that price.  And then a shot fired in Sarajevo by a Serbian terrorist ignited a tinderbox.  The assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand by Gavrilo Princip started World War I.  The most bloody and expensive war at the time, it bankrupted Great Britain and ended her empire.  And left the world a less safe place. 

From the ashes of World War I rose new leaders with aspirations of world conquest.  Fascist Italy led by Benito Mussolini.  Nazi Germany led by Adolf Hitler.  Communist Russia led by Joseph Stalin.  Imperial Japan led by Hideki Tojo.  And the nation that led the victors in World War II would, by default, become the new world power.  The new world policeman.  The United States of America.

SO WHAT HAPPENED during the inter-war years that led to World War II?  War exhausted Britain and France.  Neither had the stomach for another war.  Britain continued to rely on the Royal Navy for protection (as an island nation, sea power is indispensable).  France built fixed fortifications (the Maginot Line).  Both were primarily defensive strategies. 

In America, General Billy Mitchell demonstrated the vulnerability of battleships to air power by sinking a battleship with an airplane (greatly flustering the naval high command).  Colonel George S. Patton developed an armored doctrine for an unenthused army and eventually transferred back to the horse cavalry.  Meanwhile, Imperial Japan was building aircraft carriers.  And Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy and Communist Russia developed air and armored doctrine while fighting in the Spanish Civil War.

Fascist Italy attacked Ethiopia in 1935 to rebuild the Roman Empire and make the Mediterranean Sea a Roman lake once again.  Nazi Germany launched World War II in 1939 by an armored assault on Poland with tactical air support.  Poland resisted with horse cavalry.  And lost.  Imperial Japan attacked Pearl Harbor in 1941 to destroy American naval power in the Pacific.  They did a lot of damage.  But the American carriers, their prime objective, were at sea.  They would eventually meet those carriers later at the Battle of Midway.  Where they would lose four of their best carriers and many of their best aviators.  This tipped the balance of power in the Pacific to the Americans.

America was ill-prepared for war.  But American industry, the Arsenal of Democracy, ramped up and built the planes, tanks, guns, rifles and ships that would win the war.   It would come with a heavy price tag.  Global wars typically do.  Had there been a balance of power that would have checked the territorial ambitions of the aggressor nations, it would have been a different story.  Of course, having the power is one thing.  How you use it is another. 

France had more tanks than Germany before the outbreak of hostilities.  But the Nazis quickly overran France.  Why?  Doctrine.  France’s doctrine was to hide behind the security of the Maginot Line.  It was a defensive-only strategy.  She developed no armored doctrine.  The lesson they learned from World War I was that armies killed themselves attacking fixed defenses.  Germany, too, learned that lesson.  So their doctrine called for going around fixed defenses with fast-moving armor spearheads with tactical air support (i.e., blitzkrieg).  Formidable though the Maginot Line was, it could not attack.  And if the Nazis didn’t attack it, it did nothing but concentrate men and firepower away from the battle.

WHEN WE PULLED out of South Vietnam, we agreed to use American air power if North Vietnam violated the terms of the treaty ending that war.  Watergate changed all of that.  Even though JFK got us into Vietnam, it became Nixon’s war.  And a vindictive Congress wouldn’t have anything more to do with it.  The North tested the American will.  Saw that there was none.   Attacked.  And overran South Vietnam.  The message was clear to tyrants.  America will quit in the long run.  Especially after a large loss of life.

Other ‘retreats’ would reinforce this perception.  Especially in the Arab world.  The withdrawal from Lebanon after the bombing of the Marines’ barracks.  The withdrawal from Somalia after the Somalis dragged dead American troops through the streets of Mogadishu.  The Arab world even saw the victory in Desert Storm as a retreat.  The anti-American Arab world said that our invasion was about oil.  That what we really wanted was to topple Saddam Hussein and take his oil.  It was just another Christian Crusade into holy Islamic lands.  When we didn’t do that, the Arab world saw it as another American retreat.  That America didn’t have the will to endure a bloody battle to conquer Iraq. 

So some in the Arab world would test America.  Al Qaeda.  Headed by Osama bin Laden.  They started small and became more daring.  World Trade Center bombing.  Tanzanian Embassy bombing.  Kenyan Embassy bombing.  Khobar Towers bombing.  The USS Cole attack.  And they paid little for these attacks.  America didn’t fight back.  But their luck ran out on September 11, 2001.  Because America finally fought back.

PUBLIC ENEMY NUMBER one, Osama bin Laden, belonged to the conservative Sunni sect of Islam called Wahhabi.  They have a large following in Saudi Arabia.  The Wahhabi have a delicate relationship with the Saudi Royal family.  They disapprove of the Western displays of wealth in the House of Saud. 

Al-Qaeda was a shadowy enemy.  We confronted them in the mountains of Afghanistan where the Taliban gave them a safe sanctuary.  We attacked.  Knocked the Taliban from power.  Drove al-Qaeda underground.  But we could not stop their funding.

Wahhabi money from Saudi Arabia financed 9/11.  And the money continued to flow.  The Saudis would not intervene on behalf of America.  They feared any crackdown on the Wahhabi could unleash a civil war.  So America needed leverage to get Saudi cooperation.  And they found it in an old nemesis, Saddam Hussein. 

A Sunni minority ruled Iraq.  The Saudis did not like Saddam Hussein.  However, they liked the balance of power he offered to Iran.  Iran was Shiite.  As much as the Saudis did not like Saddam, they disliked Shiite Iran more.  This was the American lever.

After some diplomatic gymnastics, the invasion of Iraq was set.  The Saudis thought we were bluffing.  They didn’t believe we would invade Iraq.  Never in a million years.  If we didn’t do it in Desert Storm when we had the force in place to do it and didn’t, there was no way the Americans would amass another coalition and redeploy forces to the region again.  Especially because America doesn’t like long, drawn out, bloody wars.  Which an invasion of Iraq would surely be.

They asked us to remove our forces from the Saudi bases.  We did.  Now they were getting nervous.  That was the political game.  Make some noise to show the Arab world you weren’t an American toady.  But, secretly, you want those American forces to remain.  That American presence did provide security.  And stability.  After the invasion of Kuwait, it sure looked like Saudi Arabia would be next.  It was only that large American force in the desert that changed that inevitability. 

The Americans invaded.  And conquered.  Now the Saudis had a vested interest in helping the Americans.  They needed them to be successful in Iraq.  To contain Iran.  The lever worked.  The Saudis stemmed the flow of Wahhabi money to al-Qaeda.  The invasion of Iraq proved to be one of the most effective battles in the war on terrorism.  

HISTORY HAS SHOWN that a balance of power can lead to peace.  It has also shown that a superpower can enforce a larger peace.  But it also has shown that there is good and bad when it comes to power.  The Romans could be cruel, but so were most in that time.  The road to empire, after all, started out simply as a quest to provide a buffer between Rome and the hostile barbarians on her borders.  Rome, then, expanded in pursuit of peace.  (Initially, at least.)  And then used her power to maintain peace.

Many view Great Britain as the successor to the Roman Empire.  And many view America as the successor to the British Empire.  These powers share many things (rule of law, an advanced civilization, political stability, etc.).  Perhaps the greatest, though, is a powerful military.  And how it was/is used.  As a powerful deterrent to an aggressor nation.  To protect trade routes.  To maintain peace.  Malign these empires/nations all you will, but the greatest periods of world peace were due to their military power.  And their will to use that military power.  Expensive as that was.  Is.

So, yes, wars are costly.  Peace, too.  Sometimes, though, we must fight wars.  But we can avoid a lot of them.  By a peace-time military force that acts as a deterrent.  Because there are bad guys out there.  Who only respect one thing.  And it isn’t diplomacy.  Often the only thing preventing them from waging a cruel war of conquest is a potent military and a willing leader to use it.  If a tyrant knows he will face a military consequence for acting, he may not act.  When he knows that consequence will be devastating, he will not act.  But if he knows a nation hasn’t the military power or the will to use military power, he will act.  Just as Hitler did.  As Mussolini did.  As Tojo did.  And as Osama bin Laden did.

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