Just So You All Know, I’m Switching from noitartst.wordpress.com to noitartst.com

I don’t want nobody to be unaware about this, but I am no longer posting from this address; noitartst.com be my new one, and this will be my final post here,   Repeat:  I’m switching sites, and you have been duly notified.

See yas there.

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Ah, Syria: You’re an Idjit, Mr. Obama

Pardon my thinking so poor of you, Mr. Obama, but you’re probably label me a racist for what I’m about to say.

Mr. President, your Syrian policy is a joke.  You may be following some internal plan, or know some insider facts I ain’t privy to, but best I figure, your logic here has led you, us, and Syria–off the rails.

And here’s how.

Alright, at the dawn of the Arab Spring,  in in 2011, after Russia’s row over Libya, and as protests in Syria were breaking out, you chose to support the dissidents there, like you did in Libya, even if you didn’t get the UN support there like you did in Libya.  Trouble is, you weren’t prepared to use force sans a UN resolution.  

Alright, if you effectively treated Russia’s UN veto as a veto, you shouldn’t have kept alienating the Russians as partners, even as they ostensibly tried to work in what you agreed.  You were being clearly disingenuous with them, and why wouldn’t they feel frustrated?

You were mostly trying to avoid looking like Bush, but guess what?  That’s what you wound up doing, didn’t you?  By using the “weapons of mass destruction” gambit, you followed in his exact footsteps, and nobody bought it.  

You should have followed the positive example of Clinton in Kosovo, in 1999, and not worried about negative ones, as much.  Had you chosen to take military action in 2011 in lieu of Russian actions, you would have had emotional momentum at your back, but in 2013, you had none, plus you were catering to recent history in the worst way possible.

Newsflash, Barack:   Legitimacy, ultimately, is about hearts and minds, not rules and laws.  After all, that’s why Abraham Lincoln, another lawyer, no less, is seen as a great man, and not some abuser of the constitution, given how he suspended the constitution in part.  

It seems the UN agrees with you about nerve gas in Syria, but don’t you see how small you were?  Everyone knows why you were doing it, namely to end an abusive tyrant, but you never really framed it like that, did you?  After all those months of in action, it seemed like you were arbitrarily taking action, and it just felt like an excuse.  

Following the Russian veto, you effectively told America and the world, “Well, everyone, I guess Syria isn’t worth doing anything about.”  Let’s forget your words sir–action, or inaction, as the case depends, speaks louder, and that’s the message received, full stop.  

For all his shortcomings, your pal Erdogan is a great example of what you’re supposed to do, namely lead the public to your point of view.  Erdogan’s creation and manipulation of the Mavi Marmara incident may not have been welcome, but it still shows how a leader can make something happen, out of the blue.

Well, Mr. President, you need to follow Erdogan’s example, make something happen in Syria, given you’re still mulling military options, and aren’t truly serious about working with Russia, if I read you right.  

You deeply gall me, sir.  Yes, Assad has a lot of blood on his hands, and yes, Putin does, too, but have a hand in that bloodbath, also, because you; as they will no doubt tell you, you egged them on, and totally refused to clasp palms and work with them (within their lights) to end it.  

Obama, you resorted to half-measures, infuriating everyone, and to little effect, you know?  You can’t please everyone, but pleasing none, alas, whilst being totally ineffective in the process, is unforgivable.  

And so, Mr. President, do you think me a racist?  If so, I guess that would explain your lack of interest in following whose example might be otherwise encouraging.

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National Capitals Indicate Where the Tension Is

I blogged about the importance recently of Israel’s strategic geopolitical location, and that seems to have been my best-received article to date.  Along those lines I will continue with something else I think I’ve noticed, namely the placement of capitals.

They normally don’t happen by random, folks.

Capitals have historically been placed where the are due to some sort of military-political calculus, with emotion thrown in for good measure.  Hey, Jerusalem itself became the capital of David’s Israelite kingdom after he conquered it, and by doing so, he was sending a message, not just to his people but his enemies, staking out recaptured territory, and establishing dominance.

The Middle East sure hasn’t changed, much.  During the Iraq War, I recall reading an article where a Shiite militant told a Western reporter, about a rival Sunni neighborhood, that one day, they would capture it, and make its mosque their headquarters.

Same principle, same instinct.  Now, when we see the Palestinians demanding eastern Jerusalem as its capital, it’s the ancient instinct of fighting for a statement, an emotional symbol of a struggle for dominance they have already largely lost.

In this way, capitals can become markedly accurate predictors of future conflict; think of Washington and Richmond, facing off in the Civil War.  Those capitals didn’t make any rational, military sense, but they emotionally spoke volumes.  Washington was pointedly placed where it was as a compromise twixt the Northern and Southern states, and when the Confederacy was formed, it just answered back symbolically, though much to its chagrin.

Capitals have a way of pointing in some direction, think of Texans’ Washington-on-the-Brazos one during their War for Independence.  The bulk of American Texans were East, but the their borders were south, and to the west, so they chose a headquarters better situated to control a land they numerically dominated, but not so geographically.  IN essence, they were compensating.

Think, too, of the Ottoman and Russian empires, reaching into Europe.  The Ottomans took Constantinople, situated twixt Europe and Asia Minor, in 1453, and then used the thus-renamed Istanbul as they expanded into the Balkans.  Peter the Great, for his part, ditched Moscow, and built Saint Petersburg as his capital to give his nation a Western orientation, not just because it was the future, but also because that was the area of greatest threat.

Post-WWI, what happened?  the Turks, in face of the the threat of being divvied up into fractious states ala Arabia, formed a new state, Turkey, and proceeded to pick a new capital, Ankara, back in their heartland, their imperial dreams vanished, and refocused on holding what was left.  In Russia, their holdings in disarray, and facing internal revolt the Bolsheviks returned to the Kremlin, also focused on keeping order where they could.

Russia really hasn’t shifted its mood from that changed its capitals, yet, and that’s a pity for the whole world.

I’ve barely studied this topic, folks, but I find it fascinating.  Just like tree rings, capitals tell a tale, and a very interesting one it is, all priority, prudence, and ambition.

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Putin: A Big, Growling Bear Atop a Melting Piece of Drift Ice

Just know, that if I sound like I’m repeating myself from previous posts, I probably am. I’m human, and despite my best efforts, I retread.  That said, I try to keep it fresh.

And if not?

Nya, nya.

Putin’s behavior, best I can tell, is not of one who feels aggressive, but threatened.  The West may not feel much threatened by him these days, but he does feel threatened by us. I think he probably feels very statesmanlike announcing he’s ready to launch tripartite talks withe the West over Ukraine, but he doesn’t get it.

Putin’s last-year offer to the Ukraine carried not just a bigger loan-carrot, but also a bigger military stick, and yet he lost totally to the West in terms of influence, and must now resort to coercion.  The EU won without even managing to match Putin’s terms, and that says volumes.

Putin’s coercion is a sign of weakness, folks.

And desperation.

Putin may be able to carve a buffer area out of neighboring states, but he’s doing it at an increasing cost to his international stature, even as he whines to his aides about how he’s not “respected.”  Well, if he wanted our respect, he’s sure not trying hard, is he?

The real problem is that Putin sees Russia as an equal to the West, whereas the West sees Russia as just another Great Power that has yet to be absorbed in the trans-national mesh of mutual treaty obligations, and its refusal to do so is what’s causing tensions.

China is a bigger threat to the West than Russia, if you want to go there, but Russia makes a worse mess because not only does it resist enmeshment, it actively works against the smaller countries that are willing.  China is at least acting with growing self-confidence, preventing it from lashing out in a rash way even as it flexes its muscles in the South China Sea, but it cannot be said of Russia.

Russsia doesn’t want to become a Western sattellite, so it’s trying to compete via creating its own satellites, but it’s competing with gravity by way of electromagnetism, which is a huge power drain.  Yes, electromagnetism is strong force, and gravity weak, but in the long run, staying power wins, and while Russian elites may fear becoming the West’s satellite, they fear becoming China’s also.

Putin is stridently avoiding having to choose because he doesn’t want to, but I truly think he’s postponing reality.  Sooner or later, Russia’s going to have to make nice with its neighbors, just like another Great Power on the European periphery is, namely Turkey, over Armenia and Cyprus.

By the time Russia does, though, how big a mess will he have left?

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Viktor Yanukovich, Putin’s Douche: What an Em-bear-assment

There are lessons to be gleaned from Kanukovich’s fall from power, and chief among them is:  Don’t convince your country you’ve sold your foreign policy to the highest bidder.  Foreign policy=sovereignty, and if you’ve sold that, well, you’re little more than governor of the Ukraine, not the Ukraine’s President.  Mr. Yanukovich’s political career now is pretty much finished–unless, of course, Moscow invades the western half, and is need of a puppet legitimizer.  

That happens, and the douche for the job is quite apparent.

Another lesson is that the West wins in the long by being more than military force, but also a set of values that endures a legion of reversals.  Kanukovich made a rational choice between the disinterested  maid astride her languid bull and the aggressively pursuant bear, but outrage came because it was a choice out of duress, not genuine appeal.

Ever wonder how the wind blows, friends?  It blows from high pressure to low pressure, and the West’s tolerance for upheaval gives it a distinct advantage over places that aren’t–say the whole Eastern World.

Europe’s always been written off as a spent force, you know?  Back when Rome was collapsing and Europe was absorbing all those barbarian Germans pushed their way by the burgeoning Han Chinese, it seemed that all those immigrants were the coup de grace to the Western Way, when in fact they’d in time prove an extension.  

Ukraine, in the end, hasn’t turned West out of love, but necessity, out of self-preservation, and an urge to maintain the breath of sovereignty that the Kremlin so widely espouses. Putin sensed a  breeze blowing Ukraine towards the EU, and tried to counter it, but couldn’t seem to fathom that his own decisions were causing it.

And thus the breeze became a whirlwind, losing him a (very) loyal ally.

Europe, a spent force?  Ha.  After Rome’s fall, Europe was a spent force.  During the Bubonic Plague, Europe was a spent force. If Europe was a spent force back then Europe’s in great shape, now–isn’t she?  

If Europe was such a spent force during the Eurozone crisis, why didn’t it break up as a result?  If the notion of Europe is so weak,then why didn’t the crisis dissuade any nation seeking membership from doing so?  And why, pray tell, why did Putin need to overtly bribe Yanukovich from following the crowd?  

Ah…and why, if Europe’s weak, does Mr Putin fear the West moving East?  

Because tyrannies fear good governance and rule of law like a witch water, that’s why.  If not a full  tyrant himself, Yanukovich could be bought because he was at least authoritarian, and at least sympathetic to Putin’s fear’s, leading to a literal buy-in.

Ukraine, on the other hand was not sympathetic, and when it discovered its leader was, both in his joining the Customs Union and shooting protesters, they rejected him, root-and-branch.

To his credit, Yanukovich showed his people the way forward, and it wasn’t East.

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The Ukraine: Ah, to Feel the Tear Twixt Da Bull and Da Bear

Pity the Ukraine, caught in a squeeze between its past (Russia) and its future the (EU).  In metaphorical terms, though, the issue is all about the pull and appeal of bulls and bears.

Does the Ukraine really want to share an ursine’s offer of shelter in a cold, dingy cave instead of the bull’s lush, green pasture lands? Sure, Boris may offer the proper socialist pleasantries, but who’s bigger, and who, push to shove, is first among equals?  Caves aren’t spacious, and it could get claustrophobic.

No, neither bulls nor bears are without their moods, but consider: Bears are omnivores, but bulls are not.  Boris may eat you in time of famine when his oily honey-wealth dries up, but a bull cannot.  Thus, in time of danger, bulls can at least huddle with the herd, but bears are on their own.

Nationalist Ukrainian citizens may feel heritage with Russia, but they’re coming to sense the bruin’s playing a protection racket, and it comes at their expense, isolating them with the wider world, and they aren’t alone in the rising chill.  The Armenian president, in need of Russia’s military support, signed onto that Customs Union, and yet he can’t bring himself to defend the pact on his home turf, and that augurs poor for this Customs shtick in the long.  Armenia may endure it for now, pragmatically, but when the nationalist backlash inevitably erupts, guess what the result will be.

It will be a lot like what’s happening in the Ukraine, and that’s despite a lot of ethnic Russian-speaking citizens.  Ukrainian nationalism may not be the strongest, but it’s only getting stronger thanks to Boris’s badly overplayed hand.

As long as the bear-in-chief thinks he can re-fight the Cold War, he’s sadly mistaken, and that’s the problem.  If you act anti-social, and pride yourself on not playing well with others, well, what do you think will happen?  Trust is out, and suspicion is in.

Let me just tell you, Mr. Boris:  Avoid your little party over the West disrespecting you.  You’re still a power, but not a superpower, yet you still ask to be treated as such, and therein lies the issue.  Not too long ago, when you complained about certain Arab Gulf states “hitting above their weight” you inadvertently hit upon the crux of the matter.

You’re not real economies, but rather just economies floating on oil, and in the long run, mineral wealth betrays its masters’ ambitions.  For now, though, it just gives you an opportunity to strut along the world stage, and makes you think you’re stronger than you really are, becoming part of the problem in the process.  Sooner or later, the world economy’s going to crash, and you with it; rather than bolster your military in an unsustainable rush, I say:  “Prepare your den.”

You’re gonna need it.

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Where We Are in the National Cycle

I don’t think history repeats itself, but it does run in cycles.  I’ve been reading about demography’s impact on economics, and have as a result given this some thought.  It just seems so common sense to me to start in economics from the most quantifiable (demography, technology & productivity) to the least, but that’s not my main point.

I blogged earlier about how things were going to shift in our current political divide in the US, and after looking at history in the light of history, it gives me confidence to hazard a speculative guess via pattern recognition, or a stab at it thereof. Since the the Civil War, there have been two full political cycles with one party dominating, and are now in the first half of a third.

In each cycle, the ruling party can boast two main achivevements, namely progress in social advancement, and economic reform. In the first cycle, the Rebublicans gained national control at the start of the Civil War, and did not relinquish their grip on it until the Great Depression, basically–a good seventy years at the helm.

When a cycle starts, it always starts with reform, and enfranchisement of the ruling group’s followers, who, in the case of the early Republicans, was the rising tide of Western settlers.  The Party of Lincoln brought us the 13th Amendment, which, though it is thought of as in moral terms, was also economic.  In one fell swoop, it did a lot to even the playing field, making the country both socially–and economically–modern, knocking down the Southern aristocracy in the process.

Well, now we come to the cycle’s midpoint, And what happens around this time?  The lifting of the Gold Standard, and the Progressive Movement.  By now, the Western settlers had pretty much settled down to farming, and their agrarian needs were served via this increase currency flexibility.   Around this time you also had the Suffragettes, increased voting rights, and cultural shifts that put the first half of the cycle to shame.

By then, though the forces of Western Expansion that brought the GOP to power had petered out, and ended as it started–in a crisis, started by a crash. Urbanizing forces had been on the rise for a while, now, but the New Deal brought them, and the Democrats, to the fore, passing a whole raft of legislation with them, as is typical of a fresh cycle’s beginnings.  Their focus was enfranchising the unionized, working underclass, largely immigrant, and bring them into the system.

The New Deal’s aspirations may have been dandy, but they saddled us with the welfare state, directly leading to resentment that has helped fuel our succeeding cycle.   Despite losing their grip briefly following World War II, they sailed on to the  cycle’s midpoint, with more reforms, more enfranchisement (I use this term loosely), and of of course, the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

Also, like the previous cycle, this one’s second half brought far more socio-cultural shifts than its first half, dominated as it was by depression, a world war, and McCarthy.   Second half was also dominated by the blight of hangover in the form of crime, inflation (a lot of folks say it’s nigh-inevitable when a whole lotta folks enter the workforce, as happened with the Baby Boom), and let’s not even sart about Vietnam’s aftermath.

More-conservative uburbaners, tired of their cosmopolitan urban elites who kept on catering their decaying union base, revolted, and in 1994, thirty  years after the liberals’ greatest achievement, they revolted, engendering a new cycle in the process.  This third cycle came with the typical wave of reforms, but was not as extreme as its predecessors, which rose to vogue in the face of real crisis, and most of the reforms didn’t get enacted.

Also, white suburbanites are already ostensibly quite elected, but that’s not how conservatives, if their behavior’s any indicator, is there?   Beyond that, despite the conservative swing the enfranchisement momentum that predominated the first two cycles has continued in the pursuit to marry the same gender, but I think it’s running out of steam, and liberals have yet to accept this fact.

Misreading statistics like Obama did to justify feminism in his State of the Union is just what conservatives are all about, and the sooner liberals start appreciating this, the sooner they’ll start to de-energize their foes, but this they don’t get. Enfranchisement has limits, and if that point were ever accepted by liberals, I can’t see how their wouldn’t be cultural ramifications.

No, it wouldn’t be a return to the fifties, but it wouldn’t be quite as secular, either, a place where being PC and the push for “Xmas” has ebbed.   Liberals don’t want this, and as a result push back, obligiging conservatives to return the favor.  And thus the pressure grows, fueling a culture war that will eiter climax this decade, or in the 2060’s.

Given we’re approaching this cycle’s halfway point in 2024 presuming this be a sixty-year run, I think I know what the midcycle achievement will be, and that’s the reform of the welfare state.  It’s been long said that it can’t be sustained, but until now it has, yet we’ve barely waded into the pool of bad demographics.  We’ll soon be in over our heads, though, and that should trigger some action.

Well, there be my conjectures, folks.  May be wrong, or right, but I dunno. If you want t tell me I’m up a creek, and explain why, though, I’d love to hear from you–ego deflation’s good for the soul, as is debate.

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