This is No Way to Win a War

May 31, 2006

Yet another example of the colossal failure that is the so-called "War on Terror" (TM), the Taliban (those folks who are actually responsible for 9/11) has re-siezed control of the Pakistan-Afghanistan border.

A power vacuum opened the door for militant Muslim clerics, dubbed Pakistani Taliban by the media.

Musharraf says they have no single leader, although they may have ties with the Afghan Taliban chief, Mullah Mohammad Omar.

But Haji Mohammad Omar, a burly, heavily bearded 45-year-old is one of the new forces in South Waziristan.

Residents say his men roam around Wana with rocket launchers mounted on the back of their pick-up trucks.

"We have brought peace in Waziristan. We have eliminated excesses, oppression, robberies and drugs from Waziristan," he told Reuters by telephone from Wana.

The militants have opened offices and set up checkposts in Wana's main market, collecting fees from vehicles entering.

They have even set up a court to conduct summary trials.

Most times the mullahs increase the fine for murders, and executions are rare, although a man convicted of killing his son was shot dead in front of a crowd of 150 tribesmen in late March.

A veteran of the mujahideen guerrilla war against the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan in the 1980s, Omar later fought with the Taliban and met al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden.

Now, after being granted an amnesty and being paid to stop making trouble in 2004, Omar openly admits recruiting fighters to send them across the border to fight U.S. and Afghan forces.

He accuses Musharraf of "allying with infidels."

Worse still, the vast majority of the deeply conservative and largely illiterate people support this self-styled Taliban of Waziristan, according to intelligence and government officials.

Waziristan's Taliban advise men to grow beards and veil their women, cameras are banned, and the militant mullahs are trying to stop people watching television or listening to music.

What's the point of having a pet dictator when he can't even secure his own country's borders? Apart from proving to the world that we're complete hypocrites who can't find good help?

Mao was Right this Time

May 31, 2006

With all the kowtowing that the smirking chimp does for the Chinese dictatorship, you'd think he'd follow Chairman Mao's advice: capture their minds, and their hearts and souls will follow.

We've lost the hearts and minds of the Iraqi people, as Neil Mackay of the UK's Sunday Herald rightly points out in his piece summarizing the recent Pentagon report on the state of the Iraqi occupation:

The Pentagon has admitted that the war on terror and the invasion and occupation of Iraq have increased support for al-Qaeda, made ordinary Muslims hate the US and caused a global backlash against America because of the “self-serving hypocrisy” of George W Bush’s administration over the Middle East.

The mea culpa is contained in a shockingly frank “strategic communications” report, written this autumn by the Defence Science Board for Pentagon supremo Donald Rumsfeld.

On “the war of ideas or the struggle for hearts and minds”, the report says, “American efforts have not only failed, they may also have achieved the opposite of what they intended”.

“American direct intervention in the Muslim world has paradoxically elevated the stature of, and support for, radical Islamists, while diminishing support for the United States to single digits in some Arab societies.”

Referring to the repeated mantra from the White House that those who oppose the US in the Middle East “hate our freedoms”, the report says: “Muslims do not ‘hate our freedoms’, but rather, they hate our policies. The overwhelming majority voice their objections to what they see as one-sided support in favour of Israel and against Palestinian rights, and the long-standing, even increasing support, for what Muslims collectively see as tyrannies, most notably Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Pakistan and the Gulf states (emphasis mine).

Surprise, suprise, suprise. Rather than learn from history, the shrub has chosen to repeat it by taking a page from Nixon's failed foreign war playbook. Grab them by the balls and their hearts will follow didn't work in Vietnam and it isn't working in Iraq, either.

U.S.: China Not Manipulating Currency Like They’re Not Manipulating U.S. Policy

May 10, 2006

You might recall that I referenced an article from Asia Times Online that sheds some light on the nature of Sino-American economic relations and their influence on the the exercise of First Amendment rights in this country. Stephen McArthur at Orwell's Grave has done some terrific follow-up work, blogging about the dangers of China's unchecked economic growth generally to the U.S. economy and following-up on the Asia Times story in particular.

Call me paranoid, but I don't think the Chinese are going to limit themselves to trying to sway our Taiwan policy by using our $1.5B dollar-a-day debt habit against us. The fact is, China owns roughly half of the total U.S. foreign debt – a staggering $1.1 trillion dollars as of January, 2005. It's not hyperbole to say that God only knows what that figure is today; remember that in the smirking chimp's world $9B constitutes an accounting error.

What's the source of my unbridled pessimism about China and how it will wield its financial hammer against the United States of America? This article.

Apparently the United States has concluded that China, in defiance of all logic, is not manipulating its currency to increase its already enormous human capital advantage over U.S. manufacturers. As recently as last month Asia Times Online quoted Standard Chartered Bank senior economist Stephen Green as follows:

"It's true that China is manipulating its currency, but it's also true it's manipulating it in order to appreciate against the dollar. If it was following the basket [currencies such as the dollar, euro and yen used as a reference point] in recent weeks, it would actually be depreciating against the dollar," Green said.

The article goes on to explain:

When China initially revalued its currency upward last July, it committed itself to valuing the yuan against a basket of currencies. However, since the composition of the basket was never precisely defined, at least publicly, it is extremely difficult for outsiders to assess whether China is actually following the policy or not.

Note the timing: that article ran on March 31, 2006 – just ten days after Chinese dictator Hu Jintau visited the leaker-in-chief in Washington, D.C. to talk trade, and ten days before the GAO "concluded" that China is allowing market forces to determine the value of its currency. The reason that the latest currency report to Congress could state that China doesn't technically meet the legal definition of a currency manipulator is because the law forbids depreciating currency. In short, China dodged the "currency manipulator" label because they manipulated their currency!

Why is this a bad thing? Because it allows the persistence of the status quo in Sino-American relations:

  • The Iraq fiasco will continue to be financed with what amounts to loans from China, keeping the already sheep-like American electorate from realizing the true cost of the war effort.
  • China's ability to influence U.S. foreign and domestic policy by holding our debt over our collective heads will continue to grow in proportion to the amount of U.S. debt they hold.
  • It takes some of the steam out of the Schumer-Graham import tarrifs bill, providing political cover to free-traders in both parties while depriving the progressive base of the democratic party a potent issue to rally around.
  • It provides a foreign policy figleaf for the smirk to wear.
  • It does nothing to stem the loss of manufacturing jobs in the United States, which is not only an economic issue, but a true national security issue as well.

You can put lipstick on a pig and it will still look just like Barbara Bush; you can call a Communist dictatorship that treats its citizens like cattle and makes bellicose threats about nuking Los Angeles a "strategic competitor" and it's still a bellicose Communist dictatorship.

Shrub Apologizes to Chinese Tyrant for Bill of Rights

April 21, 2006

According to the BBC:

A woman has appeared in court in Washington after heckling visiting Chinese President Hu Jintao at the White House.

Wang Wenyi, 47, was charged with harassing, intimidating and threatening a foreign official.

Ms Wang, who had a press pass for the event, had shouted at Mr Hu not to oppress the outlawed Chinese spiritual movement, the Falun Gong.

An embarrassed President George W Bush apologised to Mr Hu for the outburst.

If convicted, Ms Wang could face six months in jail and a fine of $5,000 (£2,800).

Apart from their shared disdain for the right to free speech, another possible explanation for why the smirking chimp was so quick to park his lips on Hu's rump was alluded to at Asia Times Online two years ago:

American companies may have forgotten what Henry Ford propounded when he first built his Model T: If you do not pay high enough wages to your workers, they can't afford to buy your product. One simple basis for that Bush boom is that China is recycling its US$100 billion-plus trade surplus with the US back into dollars, and especially into US Treasury bonds. Almost half of the US Treasury bonds are now owned in Asia. So China is financing Bush's bold economic experiment: running two or more wars simultaneously with a huge budget and trade deficit, and equally huge tax handouts for the richest Americans.

One has to question the long-term economic rationale for China of putting its long-term assets into very low-interest bonds in a currency that has already dropped recently by a third – and is going to drop even more. It certainly makes strategic sense: if push came to shove over, for example, the Taiwan Strait, all Beijing has to do is to mention the possibility of a sell order going down the wires. It would devastate the US economy more than any nuclear strike the Chinese could manage at the moment.

It does not help that the US, which has the experience, certainly shows no signs of using it to assess longer term dangers, and even if China had that foresight of perils ahead, Beijing lacks the experience to act effectively.

Dangerously, the global economy is faced by an addictive combination of China – a developing country with many problems of social instability – and the US – which the recent IMF report hints is a rapidly undeveloping country – whose fiscal irresponsibility is compounded by a political immaturity that tends to ignore geopolitical and economic reality.

And why shouldn't the United States ignore geopolitical and economic reality? If there's one thing the current administration has proven it's that reality doesn't matter.

It doesn't matter that the administration stole its first term in office.

It doesn't matter that the administration cheated its way into a second term.

It doesn't matter that the administration lied repeatedly to the American people to get the go-ahead for the Iraq War.

It doesn't matter that the Republican majority is actively destroying the checks-and-balances that constitute the foundation of our government.

It doesn't matter that the strongest supporters of the current administration and the Republican party have the most to lose from their policies.

Hu Proves Shrub’s Point

April 20, 2006

A dictatorship is easier than a democracy.

Unfortunately Hu proved that point in Washington, D.C., not Beijing.

According to the notoriously liberal Drudge Report:

The arrival ceremony for Chinese president Hu Jintao was interrupted by a protester who appealed to President Bush to stop Hu from 'persecuting the Falun Gong,' a banned religious movement in China.

The woman began shouting from the top of a camera stand located directly in front of Hu and Bush.

'President Bush, stop him from killing'… 'Stop persecuting the Falun Gong,' she yelled… She also shouted in Chinese, 'President Hu, your days are numbered, No more time for China's ruling party.'

The incident occured right after Bush urged Hu to allow Chinese to 'speak freely'. The woman, had a temporary pass with a big 'T' on it, also unfurled a yellow 'Falun Gong' banner.

The woman was taken away by uniformed secret service officers.

Bush leaned over and whispered to Hu, 'You're okay.' Hu, who had stopped talking briefly, then resumed speaking.

Was the smirking chimp merely prompting the Chinese tyrant to resume his speech, or was he making a broader endorsement of Hu's governing style?

You don't get everything you want. A dictatorship would be a lot easier.
– From Paul Begala's "Is Our Children Learning?"

I told all four that there are going to be some times where we don't agree with each other, but that's OK. If this were a dictatorship, it would be a heck of a lot easier, just so long as I'm the dictator., December 18, 2000

A dictatorship would be a heck of a lot easier, there's no question about it.
Business Week, July 30, 2001

I'd like to say that I was disappointed by what took place in the nation's capital today, but that would require an element of surprise on my part. Suprise over the similarities between the post-9/11 United States and the Peoples Republic of China isn't something I have a lot of anymore, all things considered:

  • The governments of both countries are dominated by a single, unchecked and corrupt political party.
  • The governments of both countries sanction torture.
  • The governments of both countries spy on their citizens without warrants or just cause.
  • The governments of both countries actively seek to give the state the final say whether or not a woman should carry a child to term.
  • The governments of both countries have labeled religious and social organizations engaged in peaceful opposition to their policies as "terrorist organizations" and have infiltrated them with agents of the state security apparatus.

And of course there's the fact that the Chinese government is currently bankrolling the Iraq fiasco. 

It kind of puts the old wingnut allegations that Bill Clinton had sold-out the country to "Red China" into perspective, doesn't it?

Bush and Hu Celebrate Their Similarities

Photos from Yahoo! News