Around the World – 18July2014
As Americans we live VERY sheltered lives. Our tunnel vision and lack of interest to the world events going on around us is a by-product of a society that is so focused on taking pictures while looking into a mirror and reading about what the latest pop star did while at the beach, that many of us are blissfully, and even dangerously, ignorant. Worse is the fact that many people will grab the torches and pitchforks to make a stand about something that they really have no actual knowledge of – other than a blurb they may have caught on Twitter, Facebook, or because it was mentioned between songs on their favorite radio station – because, well, they don’t care. Obviously this is an over-generalization, but to those who look around at people and secretly go “WTF?!” in our heads when we do so, this is a scary situation.
Why are we doomed to repeat history over and over (and over) again – fighting the same battles and rehashing old, horrible ideas as if they were some great find which was simply implemented poorly despite all of the historical evidence to the contrary? Because we take these lessons and make them mythical stories. We forget the hard lessons that were learned in the past. We somehow fool ourselves into thinking that, this time, we will fight that battle a different way and thus create a more favorable outcome. Off we go, bringing nothing back from that experience than that which we already knew – it was a bad idea.
It has been said that “all that is necessary for evil to prevail, is that good men do nothing.” While I believe this is true, I also believe there is something to add to that statement. Evil prevails not only when good men do nothing, but also when we allow ourselves to be fooled into thinking that it never existed in the first place.
If we are to become victims, it is by our own hand.
Malaysian Flight Shot Down
Yesterday morning (17July2014), the world was stunned to hear that a civilian aircraft, Malaysian Flight MH17 was shot down over the Ukraine by a surface-to-air missile, killing all 298 people onboard. There have been reports that Russian forces are responsible for the atrocity, while Russia is blaming the Ukraine.
Obviously, I am not aware of all of the facts (but then again, no one else seems to be either at this point) so I can only say this as a “gut reaction”, but I am more inclined to believe that Russia is responsible for this because they have done this before. In 1978, Korean Airlines flight 902 was taken down because Russian leaders thought it was a US Air Force reconnaissance plane. That flight only had 109 people on it, only two of which died as a direct result, but Russia openly admitted to the attack and reports made available after an official investigation was filed show that Russian leaders knew full well that it was a civilian aircraft prior to shooting it down – it just didn’t matter.
Malaysian Airlines flight MH370, a flight which was carrying 239 people and disappeared on March 8th 2014, has never been located. As a sad addition to that, one family has been affected by both tragedies. Two family members went missing the day MH370 disappeared, and their step-daughter was just killed because of this latest incident.
Israeli Ground Offensive
Since I talked about the current offensive measures being taken by Israel last week, I won’t spend a great deal of time on this other than to restate my feeling on the matter.
The main circumstance that has changed since last week is the fact that Israel has been forced into a position where ground operations are necessary so that the continued bombardment of its country, and its citizens, stops. Additionally, it sounds as if Israel has taken a harder stance on this situation than in previous times, so far, and is planning on continuing with their offensive measures until they feel the message has gotten through. These are my words, but I feel their message is, quite simply, “Enough!”. There is currently some backlash being piled unto Israel because civilians have been hurt and killed because of their military action in the Gaza Strip, and although it is certainly a tragedy that things have had to come to such a point, I do not believe that blaming Israel is the correct rhetoric to be flying around. It should be quite the opposite, actually.
Israel has gone out of its way to make this necessary turn of events as careful and tactical as they possibly can. They warned Palestinian civilians that things were coming to a head prior to taking action and have only been targeting positions that have been confirmed as either hostile, or, a location where rockets have been fired towards them. They are reacting to what has been going on to them. And, as the Israeli military spokesperson stated last week, Palestinian terrorists are using the civilians in the area as human shields. These are the same caliber of people who will strap bombs to young women and children, blow up a vehicle with the sole purpose to take out as many people as possible, and hide their weapons in both grade schools and civilian homes. Of course, it is not the leadership of these movements who are on the front lines and offering their own lives for what they claim to believe in so strongly, but the lives of everyone else around them who have bought into their lies that they are “honorable” people.
Russia Agrees to Reopen Cuban Spy Base
I found this story hidden in the headlines and I am VERY surprised that this has not been more prevalent in our national news. A Cuban spy base that Russia has had dormant for years (allegedly), since the end of the Cold War, is apparently due to be reopened and back under Russian control. As I showcased last week, international relations between Russia and the US have been strained lately, to say the least, and this reads as if it were yet another move that is being done purely to put the American government on notice. I was not alive during the Cuban Missile Crisis but I have read about it numerous times, seen plenty of documentaries, and know from those I have talked to who were alive during that period that an active Russian presence in Cuba is a very bad idea. Of course, since our relationship with Cuba is as challenging as it is Russia, we don’t really have any friendly diplomatic relations with Cuba – meaning we really have no say in the matter.
Lessons learned, but not remembered. If the world was a chess board, and each country had a side they could use to play the game, I wonder what Americas position in the game would look like? Our pawns have been all but used up – because more and more our words are being ignored – and it feels as if we have been losing the more powerful pieces on the board left and right.
But, we have Netflix, HBO, Facebook, Twitter, pop stars, IPods, and tablets!! In the words of a certain “wizard” – Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.
Baby Gabriel Still Missing, but No One Cares
Remember Elizabeth Johnson, the Arizona woman who first claimed to have killed her child, Baby Gabriel, but then changed her story to say that she had “given him away” to some random couple in Texas? Well, after four and a half years in prison, she has been released and is once again a free woman. WTF?!
Just to rehash that, let’s break this down. Elizabeth Johnson took her child and ran to Texas. The child disappears. At first, she claimed that she killed the child and threw the body into a landfill. Then, that story changed to her giving the child away to a random couple in Texas. She has never been able to provide the names of this mysterious couple who she supposedly gave her child to, and all efforts to locate these (mythical) people have turned up nothing. Baby Gabriel’s father, Logan McQueary, has been searching for his missing child since the day Elizabeth ran off with him – and so far, that has not turned up anything either.
Bottom line, this child is still missing and all evidence supports that she either killed the child, or, knows more about where he is than what she has said. Personally, I believe she was telling the truth originally when she stated that the child was dead, and because the landfill where she supposedly dumped his body was gone through extensively without any results, I also tend to think that she killed him while en route to Texas and dumped the body before she got there. Sadly, there may really be people out there who would randomly take a child – but you would think that others who knew those people would suddenly see a new child in their possession and report them to the local authorities when news about this began to go nationwide.
Until actual answers were given and the child had been located, she should have never seen the light of day again – unless it was through bars, razor wire, or the prison recreation yard.
And now for something completely different… And, because I always enjoy a good laugh after delving into serious matter.
Around the World – 11July2014
Much like the entertainment section of the site, I plan on attempting to update this weekly as much as I am able to, so please check back for news updates along with personal commentary, insight, rants, and of course, personal opinion.
Contrary to popular belief, there is more going on in the world than Kim Kardashian’s utters flapping around in the wind and Miley Cyrus quickly becoming the anti-christ – fun as that is to watch.
Israel On The Offensive
Four days have passed since Israel began a military offensive within the Gaza Strip, and to put it mildly, Israel is kicking some serious ass! Palestinian’s have fired approximately 600 rockets into Israel. This may in fact only be drunken target practice on the part of the Palestinians though because out of those 600 rockets, they have only managed to move a bunch of shit around and cause zero casualties.
Meanwhile, Israel has responded by targeting, and destroying, 1100 rocket-launching sites and have successfully removed several Palestinian terrorists from the face of the Earth. Bravo! This is a bit like watching a domesticated cat fight a tiger; whereas one has been taught that the world owes them something and things come easy when you whine long enough, the other has had to fight and claw for every inch of survival every day of its life and constantly lives under the threat of attack. And, much like a tiger will not actively put itself in harms way without previously being provoked, Israel has likewise sat back and endured the constant bombardment of its country, its citizens, and its way of life for far too long without any outside assistance other than being told they need to “talk” more. Israel is taking a strong stand against this nonsense, sending back the equivalent of about two rockets for every one being fired at them, and is making it clear that they are through with talking when the only thing they seem to understand is action. I for one, am more than happy to see them do so!
Benjamin Netanyahu (I spelled that correctly on the first try folks! I know, right?!) has stated that, while he has communicated with other world leaders, including the United States, he has informed them that no other country in the world would sit causally by and allow someone to bombard them with rockets for days on end without responding to that activity in kind. And he’s absolutely correct! Additionally, one of Israel’s top military spokesman broke it down for those who may think that Israel is reacting too strongly because innocents are being affected along the way.
“Israel uses its weapons to defend its citizens. Hamas uses its civilians to protect its weapons.”
I wish I could have seen that press conference because I want to know if the Israeli spokesperson dropped the mic after saying that and then casually walked away.
Israel has been more than patient, and just like any (good) parent of a child will tell you, sometimes the best course of action to make the bullshit stop is a good smack on the ass – and Israel has a very sophisticated and powerful paddle at their disposal. If we had actual leadership in our political arena within the United States, instead of a bunch of sniveling and greedy con-men (and women) who have constantly sold out their “principles” to the highest bidder, then I would love to see the United States offering its full support to our biggest (and only) ally in that region of the world. But, Obama DID give an IPod to the Queen of England… so maybe he will at least send Netanyahu something equally as arbitrary – like a years free admission to Euro-Disney or something. No one else is going, so Disney could use the free publicity.
The NSA, the CIA & Germany
Because talking about Israel and Germany is rather historic in nature, I figured it would be best to tackle this subject next.
For those who may not follow the news going on around the world, Germany is not very pleased with the United States at the moment because it has found evidence that both the NSA and the CIA have been spying on them. While the majority of United States citizens have been frighteningly fine with the idea that the NSA and CIA have been accessing their emails, cellular phone conversations, texts, sexts, and pics (selfies!) – apparently this is frowned upon in Germany and constitutes a rather huge breach of international relations and trust. Go figure.
Germany’s latest action in response to their continuing investigation into just how far up Germany’s skirt the United States was looking before being caught, has been to order that the CIA station chief immediately leave the country. When the CIA station chief was informed of this he has been reported as saying, “Really? But the peephole into the girls locker room worked so perfectly in Porky’s!”
Because of our foreign policies over the years, we have seen our international reputation and character being flushed down the tubes; and being caught spying on a country that is (was?) our ally is certainly not going to be of any assistance to us moving forward. If we keep going out of our way to insult, infuriate, or otherwise annoy the shit out of those countries who have found us to be at least a tolerable nuisance to them (like that “friend” who you invite to parties because they always happen to be standing there when you invite everyone else) – then we may soon find ourselves in a rather lonely position that is also in grave danger. While everyone likes the guy with the power (or, at least pretends to) when he is popular, those same people will push and shove each other out of the way in order to be first in line to take that power when they figure out he is no longer needed.
Which, in fact, brings us rather neatly to my next couple of topics…
ISIS & Caliphate
For United States citizens, this should be worrisome to say the least. ISIS stand for the Islamic State of Iraq and Al Sham and this organization is directly tied to the Islamic terrorists (I refuse to sugarcoat them by calling them “extremists”) who planned and carried out an attack on the United States on September 11th, 2001. On this date four planes were hijacked, two skyscrapers were destroyed – along with several other buildings, one field in Pennsylvania became a graveyard for citizens who bravely fought back, and just under 3000 American citizens lost their lives.
As if that weren’t reason enough to become more than slightly alarmed at the fact that this group of people has successfully moved into Iraq and has since taken over the country, it gets worse when you add the words caliphate into the mix. For those in need of a history lesson, a caliphate is a type of Islamic government that is led by a supreme religious and political leader – referred to as a caliph. If you find yourself thinking “gee, that doesn’t sound very democratic at all” you’d be absolutely correct. In a caliphate, one man has all of the power and justifies his authority while wearing the mask of religious rights and, dare I say, “destiny”. This is where the cutting off of hands for stealing bread, blinding people for looking at a married woman, or castrating men (and women) for having premarital sex comes into full effect. Oh, and if it is extra-marital? They just kill you…with rocks. Needless to say, I am pretty sure they do not subscribe to the humanitarian viewpoint of how to treat their enemies, nor the Geneva Convention rules of war.
When 9/11 happened, it was a sucker punch that America never saw coming. It shook us to our very foundation, tore apart our sense of security, and – in my opinion at least – let America know that we had been officially put on notice. We used to be the country that no one would DARE cross because of the fear that we may retaliate with full force. But, on 9/11, a small group of terrorists sent a shockwave through the very fabric of our being. At first, we struck back hard and true. Seeking those who were responsible and ensuring that they answered for such an attack. Admittedly, we stumbled along the way, but how targeted and specific can you really attack an IDEAL, more than a person? Eventually that action became talk, and that talk became impotence. Well, now we have an entire group of generally like-minded people (ISIS) who have taken over a country that, when we left, we left a huge hole of power behind (Iraq), and the officials leading this group have officially called for the formation of a caliphate (religious authoritarian dictatorship).
Once again, I think America has been put on notice – along with the rest of our allies. Should we ignore this, I believe it spells disaster for not only the region – but for anyone else they may see as an enemy. Plus, they could prove to be an excellent distraction for what I believe to be the true potential threat to America as a leader in our modern world…
Russia & China
Do I believe that an Islamic caliphate is dangerous? Most definitely. Do I believe they have the power behind them to become a true world power and hence become a viable threat to Americas position on the world stage? Not really, but again, a small group of terrorists successfully attacked America so I am choosing not to disregard the measure of their resolve. That said, I also tend to believe, as anyone who as ever been to a modern church lately can easily attest to, those who claim religion are generally too focused on fighting amongst themselves to focus on matters beyond their realm of immediate concern. I suppose their focus will depend on the caliph they choose. I mean, look at what Hitler accomplished because he was REALLY good at talking to the masses.
The players on the international stage who I am most interested/concerned about are Russia and China – both of which have been flexing their muscles with the use of their collective military might and financial control to lead America around by the nose.
Flash back to 2008 and the Olympics. Russia invaded the country of Georgia, the United States voiced their concerns about such an act of open aggression, and China tells us to shut up and stay out of it – more or less.
Russia was making a statement that they were back, and they were not afraid of us. China backed their play and we listened. Why? Because the vast majority of United States debt is owned by China and, should they decide it is time to collect on that debt, we would be financially screwed. And Russia? Let’s not forget that they are still the worlds second most powerful nuclear power.
Fast forward to 2014, and once again Russia has been flexing its military muscle by essentially invading Crimea – a former part of Russia back when it was referred to as the U.S.S.R. and decidedly not our ally on the geopolitical stage. Also, once again, when America stepped in to try and reign this act of aggression in, China stepped forward, told us to back off, and has been flip-flopping on whether or not they are actually in agreement with the action that Russia has been taking. Personally, I believe that China is again backing Russia’s play, but is also playing both sides of the fence by only stepping in when they need to in order to back everyone else off. Over the years, it has become more than apparent that political relations between the United States, Russia, and China have been tense, to put it mildly. Accusations have been made on all fronts, from everything to government computer hacking to spying on each other, and it seems as if this is a political pissing contest on a global scale. Sadly, I also feel that we have been losing that contest. Add the accusations of NSA and CIA spying that are now being voiced by Germany – this does not mix well. Plus, Russia has been harboring Edward Snowden (a former CIA systems administrator who became a whistle-blower against the United States and its collection of data of not only our enemies, but our political friends and even its own citizens) so one tends to begin thinking that there may be some information that Russia has gotten hold of and they may be using it as a means to strengthen its position in the world and further its political agenda.
Bottom line here is I think we have been asleep at the political wheel lately. Or, and perhaps more disturbingly, we have been written off as a country who would rather talk than fight and we are no longer the superpower we think we are. Whichever the case may be, I do believe that there is a geopolitical changing of the tides happening around us, which in and of itself may not necessarily be a bad thing, except when the change that is happening appears to be increasingly hostile towards America and the United States government.