The following is a brief history of world events as I see them today, March 18, 2013. I will update this as time permits. I apologize in advance for boring those of you to whom this is “yesterday’s news,” but it’s my way of trying to place the last five years in perspective. A lot has changed, but a lot has not. After all, there are still those who believe that those horrible events our nation experienced in 2010 were just “inside jobs” to either force the president’s hand to declare war, or to make him look ineffectual depending on which side of the “Truther Spectrum” you find yourself on. Long-time readers will note my position on those terrifying days hasn’t wavered: the terrorists are ultimately to blame. But I still hold the prior administration and the former Democratic Congress responsible for creating the conditions that allowed the terrorists to strike, so I didn’t shed a tear when President Obama gave his concession speech. (Like all of his speeches, it sounded good when I heard it but as soon as it was over I forgot what he said. Freakin’ typical…)
I also want to remind readers that the way things are today aren’t the way they were in the past. We tend to believe that Change happens slowly, and when it doesn’t, such as in 2010 and before that Sept. 11, 2001, we rationalize it until we can safely ignore it as “freak event.” Instead we should view History the way seismologists view faults. A fault may be quiet for years, but a seismologists knows that unseen forces are stressing the fault line until it eventually snaps. When it does, the earth moves for a few moments and transforms the landscape by destroying buildings, raising mountains or altering the courses of streams. After the stress is released, the fault becomes quiet again. But that doesn’t mean that the stress is gone; almost immediately after a quake the fault begins accumulating stress that it will release during the next quake.
And that’s why I’ve fought the policies that led to 2010. I knew that I wasn’t being paranoid – although I was portrayed as such by the commenters here and elsewhere – because earthquakes don’t happen for no reason: they are the result of stress. 9-11 and 2010 don’t happen spontaneously; they were the result of a series of conscious decisions and mistakes made by our political, military, law enforcement and intelligence officials any of which might have stopped the plots. If Houston Patrolman Rodriguez had detained the “speeder” instead of releasing him on his own recognizance for fear of bucking the “don’t ask – don’t tell” illegal immigrant policy supported by his department under pressure from the ACLU, his “speeder” wouldn’t have made it to Kansas and achieved martyrdom, taking hundreds of thousands with him. If the NSA had been allowed to monitor the satellite phone traffic that passed through microwave towers in Virginia without a warrant from a judge that happened to be hunting in Saskatchewan at the time of the call, we might have been able to arrest the “moneyman” and unraveled the plot before it made the History books as the greatest series of terrorist attacks of all time.
The refusal by politicians of both parties to take illegal immigration seriously that eventually allowed the terrorists to enter our homeland. The Chinese Walls put in place between foreign intelligence services and domestic law enforcement under the Clinton administration that prevented the warning signs of the impending 9-11 Attacks from being acted on. These walls were breached briefly after those first attacks, but then the Democratic-controlled Congress rebuilt them after Obama took office. The politicization of the CIA and NSA that started under Bush II kept bad news from being reported up the chains of command for fear of appearing disloyal. We all know their roles in 2010 even if you didn’t download the PDF version of the McCain-Webb Report and read the 876 pg investigation results word-for-word.
This is a draft: I will amend it as I see fit but the history itself will not change. We can’t bring back the dead of 2010, nor can we cure those who are permanently scarred. But I believe we can honor their memory best by writing the truth to counter the propaganda that clouds those events, dehumanizing those innocents who died those days for what? For simply being who they are, who we are, Americans.
As promised President Obama ordered an immediate withdrawal of troops from Iraq starting in 2009, leaving a token presence in Baghdad. Iran and Syria accelerated their undermining of the Iraqi regime while the Kurds in northern Iraq continued to react coolly for demands of assistance by the central government. By 2010 the Iraqi government had fallen, and a new regime backed by a coalition of Iranian/Syrian forces demanded a complete withdrawal of US forces from Baghdad. The US complied and by the Summer of 2010 Iraq was in complete chaos with the exception of the Kurdish controlled north, which finally gives up the pretense of being a part of Iraq and refers to itself in all official communiqués as Kurdistan. Turkey reacted to the growing autonomy with threats and several military incursion to chase PKK rebels, but the Kurdish authorities promised to keep the PKK under control and renounced claims to a greater Kurdistan – for now. A steady exodus of Iraqi refugees set up camps in Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Turkey, demanding visas to the United States due to the threat of persecution for supporting the US occupation.
Emboldened by their success in Iraq, the anti-war Left in the United States demands a similar US withdrawal from Afghanistan, and the Taliban, with help from former Iraqi insurgents and Iranian Special Forces, escalate attacks against former-NATO forces and the Afghani populace. This leads to a large increase in casualties among the local populace as well as the remaining contingent of former NATO forces. Weary from the relentless terrorism of the Taliban and al-Qaeda, support evaporates for the regime and by the middle of 2010 the government of Hamed Karzai has fallen. US forces evacuate the remaining former-NATO forces from Baghram air base as Taliban leader Mullah Omar parades triumphantly into Kabul. After reports in the western press that the Taliban are going door-to-door and executing the families of suspected collaborators with former NATO and Karzai’s forces, the Taliban Communication’s chief imposes a news blackout and demands that all reports must receive the approval of Taliban authorities. Cell phones are confiscated, and cellphone towers dynamited. News trickles out from Afghan refugees at camps in Iran and Pakistan of a bloody “cleansing” of the Afghan community by the Taliban, with hundreds of thousands slaughtered.
The abrupt withdrawal of US forces from the region has made traditional Saudi enemy Iran the major player in the region. King Abdullah takes a public stance of solidarity with the Iranian regime, all the while resisting and covertly attacking Iranian interests in Iraq as the kingdom and Iran vie for supremacy over the remnants (the oil fields) of the former state. However Iran soon gains an upper hand in Iraq through its Shi’a allies there, and uses its ties to al-Qaeda developed during the US occupation of Iraq to attack the Saudi kingdom directly. This is made all the more easy when one of the Sudairi Seven, the seven close-knit sons of King Abdul Aziz “ibn Saud” by Hassa bint Ahmad Sudairi, dies under suspicious circumstances. The Arab Street immediately blamed the Jews, but the Saudis knew better.
The collapse of oil prices to below $50 a barrel hasn’t helped Saudi finances much either. With stagflation haunting the USA and international trade under attack in most of the developed world, world demand for oil has slumped significantly since the US economy entered recession in early 2008. Add in several million Iraqi refugees, many of whom are suspected of being al-Qaeda, and the Kingdom find itself in the toughest place it has been in the modern era.
The United States
The first successful terrorist attack on US soil since 2001 occurred in 2010. You would think that the savagery we witnessed in 2001 would have prepared us somewhat for what happened that year, but unfortunately our capacity for horror is unlimited. Like most I was simply speechless for days afterward. The President’s “Solidarity” speech seemed calming, but that was before the second strike. Then came the third, and the fourth and I remember thinking to myself that they would never end. As with the attacks on 9-11, there were no claims of responsibility but al-Qaeda was suspected until a tape was uploaded to Youtube two months later by al-Zawahiri stating that the US was being punished for its “past transgressions against Islam.” It threatened further attacks unless the USA “redeems itself by repudiating it’s Crusader past” and embracing Islam. Unlike the other threats, al-Zawahiri made good on this one and 2010… Well, it sure wasn’t the vision Arthur C. Clarke had when he wrote the novel. The book it most resembled was Dante’s Inferno.
Leftists claimed that America deserved the attack for its past support of Israel, and wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. After several months of investigation it was determined that the terrorist cell infiltrated the United States through Mexico. Proof of ties between the terrorist and drug gangs operating in northern Mexico were produced by US authorities, but denied by the Mexican government. In an unusual statement, the head of the Mexican drug gang posted a video statement on Youtube where he admits that his gang helped the terrorists infiltrate the United States, but denies knowing anything about their mission.
A small group of influential Leftist scholars called for the indictment of former president George W. Bush, vice president Dick Cheney, and former secretary of state Condoleeza Rice as war criminals. They hoped that a successful prosecution would encourage “peace with our Islamic brothers,” and demanded that a diplomatic delegation be sent to Pakistan to negotiate with al-Qaeda.
The electorate punished President Obama in the 2010 mid-term elections by re-electing a single Democrat to her seat; the Republicans ran the table using the infamous “2010” campaign. Even the Leftist MSM had a hard-time attacking the Republicans due to effectiveness of the campaign message highlighting the government failures that allowed the terrorism to happen.
One of the leading lights of a revitalized Republican party was a governor with strong ties to the religious right but who repudiated the “internationalism that infected our party for the last half a century.” Calling Sen. Ron Paul “an inspiration, and one of the smartest men I’ve ever met,” the Governor demanded that President Obama send the returning armed forces to man the border with
Canada. “These brave men and women enlist to protect
America from its enemies – not the Koreans who stole our jobs, not the Europeans who stole our dignity, and not the Saudis who stole our souls.” On Sunday January 20, 2013, he was elected the 45th
President of the
As anyone who has read this journal before, I am not a big fan of the President. While I have written in the distant past that Isolationism is the default state of America, I cannot help but think how things would have been different had we not elected a closet isolationist president in 2008 at what should have been the end of the recession. It turns out later that the economy wasn’t as bad as Obama and the Democrats made it out to be late in the year, but by that time the recession had bitten deeply into our economy with millions thrown out of work, falling tax revenues and worse, inflation as the Fed printed flooded the markets with cash to try to get the economy moving.
For those of you who weren’t around back then, it was like 1978 all over again. The Democrats reminded us of that over and over, reviving the term “misery index” that had been coined under one of their own presidents. Every potential bright spot of the economy was talked down, while every negative statistic made the headlines. Sure this was a cynical ploy just like the Clinton team had done to the first George Bush’s candidacy in 1992 – but like Clinton it worked – just too well. Perception is reality for Wall Street, and all the trash-talk by Democrats (and those Republicans who thought that McCain’s rhetoric was too polly-annish to dent Obama’s lead) altered its perception. All the negativity about the economy and trading partners was enough to sweep Obama into office but also boxed him into a corner. He had lost the ability to backaway from his more radical policies early in his campaign, but in order to survive he had to repudiate that strategy. When it came time to deliver, he had to come through for his constituents. Taking office just after the economy was starting to dig itself out of negative territory turned out to be a disaster. The markets were tanking. Our trading partners were matching our anti-trade rhetoric tit for tat. We faced the perfect storm: bad monetary situation, low confidence in free markets and trade, and an election without an incumbent. Somehow Obama managed to piss off the Canadians more than Bush ever had. Honestly I didn’t think it was possible given the shared history of our two nations, but the comments he made in 2011 supporting Quebec separatism pretty much killed what little relationship our two nations had after the trade rhetoric cooled.
I was never a fan of Obama. I always thought him to be in the mold of Jimmy Carter. However his term by comparison made Jimmy’s term look like a Golden Age. It’s hard to relate what life was like to those of you who don’t remember living in a country that was open to the rest of the world. The prosperity this openness brought us was always taken for granted so that we only appreciated it when we lost it. I always had my doubts about Free Trade, but I wanted to see it tweaked not discarded completely as it has been by both the Obama and current administrations.
Free Trade never got the credit it deserved in Academia due to the latter being the last bastion of Communism on the planet. Therefore much of the elite that grew up in the 80’s and 90’s never appreciated how trade had lifted more people out of poverty than any single idea or ideology. The only time that this was recognized was by the Malthusians in the Eco-movement who wanted the people in China, India and Africa to return to poverty because it lowered their carbon footprint. When the elites started leading, as Obama’s generation took power in the USA, Europe and elsewhere, they were indifferent to Free Trade or worse, antagonistic to it.
But the bonds of trade are not made of steel; they are based on trust, and when that trust began to be broken by Obama’s attempt to renegotiate NAFTA, the bonds were broken. Then 2010 happened and Isolationism became the new paradigm. I suddenly found myself feeling catapulted backward in time with the constant chatter about “the gold standard” and tariffs – not from a Hearst broadsheet, but the blogosphere and MSM.
Forces in Europe have been drawn down starting with deployments in Bosnia and Kosovo, followed by the quick redeployments (home) of forces in Spain, Italy and eventually Germany. Finally, all remaining forces returned home by the end of 2012, only the contingents protecting US embassy personnel remained. Total force drawdown as of Dec 2012: 98,000. Remaining: 250
NATO unofficially expired going the way of the Warsaw Pact. European governments have been forced to rebuild their dilapidated armed forces; some opted for an EU force, while others (UK, Italy, France) continued to field their own militaries under their own command. Russia’s interest in Europe revived as it saw an opportunity to extend its influence westward, but all this has apparently done is push Europe to the Americans. Much of the virulent anti-Americanism is gone, although some remains among the “usual suspects” (the universities and trade unions). There are articles in the continental press that put forward the idea that should Europe find itself in trouble with Russia, the US will intervene as it has done for the past century. But the Brits seem to get it, with the Daily Telegraph noting in recent piece the depth of America’s antipathy towards Europe:
This expectation ignores the very fundamental question from the American perspective: Why? Why would the United States return to the past, placing US troops on European soil? What would the US derive from such a bargain? Protesters chaining themselves to the gates of their bases? Governments pursuing their own interests and prospering often at the expense of those of the United States, as France emphatically proved in the 1990’s in the Middle East? The transports planes have long gone and the bases at Aviano and Wiesbaden are already becoming overgrown with weeds. Why would the US reverse this process which it believes to be in its own best interest?
Remaining to do;
China’s blockade of Taiwan.