Reasonable Nuts

Sometimes nuts. Always reasonable. We are REASONABLE NUTS.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

What the world needs now is love, sweet love: Christopher

[note: cross-posted on TIFI]

It seems that the problems of the world are getting so great that only another Burt Bacharach song can save us. What the heck is going on? OK - that was way too big of a question. Let me break it down into more manageable bites, some, none, or all of which may or may not be connected (how's that for non-committal to a conspiracy?):

  1. Prominent Russians, many of them critics of the policies of Vladimir Putin, have been dropping like the prices on Kevin Federline CDs. Perhaps at a slower clip, these would together pass under the radar. However, the multitude is significantly challenging Occam's razor. Some have suggested Putin is being set up. This sounds conspicuously like the premise of the screenplay adaptation of a Tom Clancy novel. Here's the (growing) list:
    • Yegor Gaidar, Russia’s former prime minister and the architect of the country’s market reforms.
    • Polonium 210, has been found in the body of dead ex-Russian spy Alexander Litvinenko.
    • The business chief of Russian news agency Itar-Tass, Anatoly Voronin, killed in central Moscow.
    • President Vladimir Putin vowed on Tuesday to hunt down the killers of journalist Anna Politkovskaya.
    • Russian lawmaker and billionaire industrialist, Suleiman Kerimov crashes car in France.
  2. Russia's long-time tacit and now overt support of Iran's nuclear (and thus other) ambitions. Russian nuclear chief to visit Iran.
  3. The dollar has hit a 15 year low against the Pound Sterling - and is near an all-time low against the Euro. Gold markets have responded predictably. Thank God I have that one ounce of Gold in my portfolio! ;-) This is in some part due to weaknesses in the U.S. housing (and thus home equity) market, but mostly due to our gross trade imbalances and leviathan National Debt.
  4. The vying for commodities among established and emerging economies. Crude oil notably, but also Uranium, Copper, Wheat, and other staples (check out Orange Juice!). Commodities prices across the board are high and getting higher. This means things are more expensive to manufacture and transport, adding to inflation - which seems to me wholly underreported. Inflation for most is higher than the figures the gov't reports. In fact, the figures reported conveniently omit fuel and food costs (why, other than to present a softer, smoother inflation curve?), both of which are very large portions of most people's budgets. The rising price of Gold alone bears this out.
  5. Iraq. The sheer magnitude of the violence therein. The seeming inability of Iraqis or Americans to quell it. Iraqi leaders, who I do not fault in the least for doing so, are looking to Iran and Syria for "assistance" with the nascent state's woes. How does a leader look another in the eye and tactfully say to him, "I know you are doing many things to undermine my country. Please stop it." More likely to be on the agenda are questions such as "How best do we form a strong allegiance between Arabs and Persians?" The only thing working against unification of the region are the strong differences between Arabs and Persians, largely secular Sunnis and mostly radical Shiites.
  6. Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is making all sorts of incredible statements about Israel, the United States, Iran's "rights" to unfettered nuclear development in any form, an apocalypse, etc. He says these things largely unchecked by major media outlets - and he reamins almost unknown to Americans. Back in January, I referenced a piece by Gerard Baker that considers the reasons for a possible open war with Iran. More pieces on Iran at Reasonable Nuts.
  7. North Korea's recent nuclear tests and missile launches. This angle I discount to some degree, as other than generally destabilizing, I don't see a possible connection at present. Still reasonable to keep it on the white board, however, since North Korea's continued functioning in its current capacity is inherently connected to support from China.
  8. China. Where to begin?

Have I summarized all the players? Who am I missing? It is important to note (again) I am not implying all of the above is connected. It simply helps sometimes to get it all out (or as much as one recalls, at least) and in one place, then step back for a more holistic view of the forest.

Looking at that forest, this is what I see in part (however dimly):
  1. As purely self-interested players, Russia, Iran, and China (RIC) are effectively engaging in an array of triangulations with one another and the United States. Western Europe is largely out of the picture, though the UK and France remain in focus on the periphery due to their nuclear arsenals.
  2. Though self-interested at root (due to no shared religion or ideology apart from the demise of the United States), there are strong motives for RIC to work collectively in varying regards. Just as the U.S. worked with Western Europe and Japan to promote containment of communist expansion during the Cold War, today RIC is working ever more overtly to contain (nay, to shrink) the influence and values of the once Western and now principally American ethos. Witness the 3 year "insurgence" following the 3 week Iraq war. On some level, the U.S. has been at war with elements of RIC for the past 3 years in this theatre. Simply examine whose weaponry is involved.
  3. The strategies being employed to destabilize American influence include, but are not limited to:
    • financial manipulations (leveraging U.S. debt, furthering trade imbalances, flooding monetary exchanges)
    • espionage
    • exchange of advanced weaponry, skills, and knowledge among one another and client states
    • building the infrastructure of said client states
    • funding terrorist groups wherever the adversary (U.S. influence) resides
    • controlling the internal news mechanisms and curtailing freedom in the exchange of information
    • silencing dissenters, challengers through increasingly brutal and overt means
    • enlisting the services of "useful idiots" in positions of influence in the U.N., U.S., U.K., and Europe
    • disseminating unceasing levels of propaganda, challenging well-established history (i.e. the Holocaust)
    • doing whatever to break alliances between U.S. and anyone
  4. Authoritarians in RIC are keeping and gaining control of their governments.
  5. Europe is dying as a Western entity, due at its simplest to the socially-normed personal choice of individual over family, leading to gradual depopulation. This, at the same time that principally Muslim immigrants are expanding their populations through large families.
  6. The fate of Israel is very much uncertain. If there is the slighest doubt (on the part of RIC) that Israel's nuclear deterrent is in good shape and ready to be used on a moment's notice, then offensive action is not only a possibility, but a probability.

I hope my wife doesn't read this. She doesn't like to be presented with such ruminations. It is the woman's duty to worry over her children, the man's to worry over everything else.


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