Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Jan. 25: The big picture...

"Gulf observers quit Syria"

Yawn. All them there foreigners. they're always fightin'. I guess  ought help them rebels make a democracy - like ours.

That's what happens when you get news in isolated bites without any sense of the big picture. It reminds me of a visit to a zoo when I was a kid. There was a cougar. He (or possibly she) was lying against the wire enclosure, looking all warm and cute and cuddly under  one of those suns that just spread gently right through you.

The whole scene was so loving and gentle that I squatted, and leaned against the fence so that I was almost touching that warm and cute and sleepy cat.

The next thing I remember was a termendous yowl, a thud as the cougar stood on hind legs to throw its weight at the wire - and me standing a good five metres away and wondering how I got there. That's what's called seeing the big picture.

A foreign nobleman and his wife got blown up by an anarchist in 1914. Tut-tut. That's the small picture. Days later, the bloodiest war in human history erupts. It's the same picture - but bigger.

"Gulf observers quit Syria" is the very small picture. In fact, the rebellion in Syria is being financed and equipped by Turkey, Ssudi Arabia, the emirates, and by NATO. It's being done because Syria is an essential ally to Iran. NATO wants to knock off the Iranian government because a) the western empires have been interfering in Iran for a century in order to get control of its oil. In the early 1950s, the west overthrew an elected government in Iran, and installed a dictator. There's a reason why Iranians don't like the west.
b) China wants that oil, too. As so much of the world industrializes, the search for energy fuel is a matter of life and death. New Brunswickers should know that. They are under one of the claws so desperate to get fuel that they are willing to take any risks (or to force others to take any risks) to get it. Only a desperate world would accept shale gas - or oilsands. Only a desperate apologist (professor Savoie springs to mind) would say, gee, we have to look at the economic benefits here.

c) Russia has both an economic and stratetic interest in Iran. The two countries (as well as smaller ones) border on the Caspian Sea -which may not be a sea at all. As a sea, it would merit open access to all ships. But, not without reason, Iran and Russia see it as a lake. (Its salinity is well below that of the oceans). That makes it common propoerty of the nations that border it. The whole basin of the Caspian is rich in oil and, as well, is a crucial transporation point for it.

That means at least three major powers (all nuclear) and several lesser ones have a vital interest in the waters that border Iran.

Remembering that, any news story about Iran's ally, Syria, is worth more than a yawn.

For a still larger picture, look at the strategy adopted by NATO in the case of Syria. It's a dead ringer for the strategy in Libya. Stir up a rebellion against a hated government. Train and supply the rebels. provide them not only with air support but special ops troops on the ground. Get our compliant press and its agencies (like Reuters) to present this as a struggle for democracy.

Sounds like a good idea. But look at what has happened in Libya. The country is nowhere close to democracy. The rebel factions are fighting each other. Conditions are so bad that popular support in Libya is swinging back to the old, Ghadaffi people.

So far, Syria is going the same route. The rebels are trained in Turkey (a US ally in this cause) which is joined by the dictatorships of Saudi Arabia and the emirates (who have not the slightest intention of allowing a democracy to develop so close to them). Again the rebels are promised a "no-fly" zone -which really means only one side will be allowed to fly and drop bombs. As well, NATO ground  troops ae in the area, and NATO is supplying the rebels with weapons.

Oh, yeah, and there are already signs of deep differences between various groups of rebels.

The strategy hasn't worked in Libya (though our press doesn't tell us that because Libya is old news. Out of style). It probably won't work in Syria, either. What it will do is take us a giant step closer to Iran -and the Caspian Sea - and Russia - and China.

And, in case you think that the western military can handle this with one hand tied behind its back, take a look as the dismal record of the western military over the last sixty years with its string of dismal defeats by small, backward, and poor countries going all the way back to Vietnam.

Don't cuddle up too close to the official version of the news. If you do, you'll get one hell of a shock when reality rears up on its hind legs, yowls, and rattles the cage.

As a  footnote, NewsToday tells us that Obama wants to raise taxes on the rich to at least 30%. You remember Obama. He's the one who was going to end the Afghanistan War and close Guantanamo.
Anyway, he at least raises the question in a country in which Mitt Romney paid less than 15% on an income of tens of millions.

How come our finance minister Higgs didn't raise the issue of taxing the rich in New Burnswick? Page one of NewsToday has a big story about his view of balancing the budget. But there isn't a word about taxing the rich - and not a word about how much the rich cost us in favours. Couldn't the TandT dig and get some info on this? After all, as the editor said yesterday, this is public money they're getting.
And when was the last time Ganong and Irving paid 30% in taxes? Or even 10%. In fact, considering all their grants, subsidies, etc., do they really pay any taxes at all?

Higgs also refers to his virtue in seldom taking a sick day when he was an Irving exec. I'm so happy to hear it. And did he get nice holidays? Or would they just be two weeks of sitting at home? Any free memberships in nice, recreational clubs?

There's also a hilarious quotation by David Ganong to the effect that governments have to learn to say no to some people. To be fair, though, maybe he meant they should say no to people like David Ganong and James Irvng.


There is what looked like a good story on government loans and grants to business in New Brunswick. It's on p. 6 of NewsToday. Unfortunately, it as about a professor from the business school at Queen's, a business school that never met a billionaire it didn't like.

In this case, he thinks government should not be involved at all in economic development. Of course not. It should allso private business to do whatever it wants. That's straight from the neanderthal school of economics.

If a government cannot been engaged in economic planning, then it can't govern at all. Virtually every decision a government makes involves the economy. (I once had to chair a meeting for the Queen's business school. I was stunned by the slack-jawed chatter that passed as economic analysis.)

Anyway, today's message is - no matter how sunny the day, don't lean up against a cougar's cage.

No comments:

Post a Comment