Archive for August, 2012

US And China Trading Places?

Thursday, August 16th, 2012

Today I watched a video by a financial expert that was meant to scare me into hiring him to manage my portfolio. It was sent to me by a friend who has recently inherited wealth and went from being on SSI to being a millionaire. I don’t have a portfolio. I don’t have any savings at all besides what is under the mattress.
The argument presented by this genius is fairly straight forward, he says the government is printing money to cover up the fact that it is in debt beyond any realistic ability to pay and the more money that gets printed the less the dollar is worth. Over simplified, he then claims there is a deficit bubble and when it collapses there will be an economic price to pay that will make Greece look like nothing.

Here is the video link

It’s called “The Great Default”

He ignores the fact that all wealth is based on trust in the system and since the USA is the lender of last resort, the world will simply let the USA write off its debt before they let the USA default, and even if the US defaults, what is the alternative? No power is going to step in and repossess the USA’s sovereign right to rule the seas. The USA might as the British did simply bow out to a superior power to which it became indebted to in a great war. Look at World War Two, the British pushed up against the wall took out loans from the USA. Loan guarantees were in the form of assets of territories, and bases but there was an unwritten agreement that the USA would take over as guarantor of world hegemony of the capitalist system. This became the cold war with the USA maintaining a huge military machine justified by the battle with the Soviets over the fate of who would run the worlds markets and dictate the means of accumulation and distribution of resources and wealth.

An interesting article on the subject.
“The Peaceful Transition of Power From the UK to the US.”

It is by a Chinese author. Interesting, perhaps the Chinese are using the analogy of the British-US transition to create the conditions for their own peaceful transition. The author is going back to the war of 1812 as the beginning of the transition, in his case he is speaking of the Monroe Doctrine, but that was a rather indefensible position until the end of the 19th century when the USA built up a large modern navy and had a coming out with the Spanish American War. Teddy Roosevelt used the navy in his Gunboat Diplomacy sending it on a world tour. But this is getting off the subject which is the fate of the USA as the senior world power, if China is to take that role, they need to build up their navy and essentially buy the American debt in exchange for American bases around the world. The USA would then retire from being the world policeman and the Chinese would be ascendant with the priority access to world resources and the subsequent policy requirement of being willing to involve itself around the world as required to protect its now world wide interests.

This is the point of a Chinese space program. They have to prove to the world that they can replace the US and Russia as the world power numero uno. That means winning more medals at the Olympics, it means going to the Moon and perhaps beating the rest of the world to Mars. It has followed the American model of becoming an economic powerhouse, and now it has to become a major naval power. This is not in the Chinese tradition, but their military is chomping at the bit wanting a test case in the South China Sea. If the USA backs down, and the Chinese are able to assert hegemony, half the battle is won. The US will lose face among all the Asian nations and China will de facto become the the new boss. All that will be required is the deal to take over the American debt and gain the American bases. The British and others will have no choice but to fall in line.

This is another position on the American - Chinese Transition
“Steve Chan, China, the U.S., and the Power- Transition Theory: A Critique”

This is a quote from the article. It sums up much that I think may happen if things are finessed properly.

“Many theorists of power transitions have seen the twentieth century’s world wars as conflicts started by Germany seeking to replace Britain as a world hegemon. Contemporary application of that paradigm suggests that America, while still strong, might muster resources to resist China’s rising power. Steve Chan argues, however, that this version of power-transition theory is inaccurate as a description of the past and self-fulfilling as a prophesy of war. He likens the future Sino- American power shift to smoother transitions, such as that from Britain to the US.”

On the other hand the Obama administration is planning to prepare for a show down in the South China Sea. The Chinese Communist Party does not feel ready for a confrontation and at this point the US naval might is dominant. Ten years from now, the situation might be different, two years from now, it all depends on when the US debt crisis becomes so great that international bankers no longer see the USA as the safe home for investments. As it is even with the instability that exists in the markets, the USA is still the preferred place to invest.

This is from Jakarta Globe

Boston Herald

From The Diplomat

A series of articles on US-Chinese Tension.

So our fear mongering friend is being premature and even if the US does trade off with the Chinese, the result will be a clean slate for the USA. It might very simply become, like London, a financial center, protected ironically by the Chinese. The collapse, if it comes down to it won’t hurt the rich, but the rest of us are already adjusting to the new reality. Low wages, expensive energy and soon to be expensive food as global climate change turns the Midwest into a desert.

Here is a scenerio, the US deficit gets to be 200% of GDP. Pressure is being brought on the US to reign in the debt, all discresionary spending is cut. Hawks want to save defense, doves want to save entitlements. Stalemate. The President decides to mothball half the fleet and reduce the active army. Medicare and Social Security eligibility are raised again to age 69. A Franco-German coalition decide to take control of the EU. Great Britain and Poland call on the US to aid them. Russia joins the Franco-Germans, China decides to occupy the South China Sea and disputed territory with Vietnam. Taiwan is threatened and calls for American support. The US military is overextended. The US makes a deal with China, take over our debt, we let you take Taiwan and the South China Sea. China demands bases around the world and the retirement of the US fleet to the Americas and the Atlantic theater. US no longer capable of supporting a two front war, makes peace with the Chinese, give them control of the Western Pacific and the Indian Ocean. This is the first step. The Chinese open a second front against the Russians, they withdraw from supporting the Franco-Germans, US is able to contain the the European threat but the new Europa is no longer an ally. Weakened the US withdraws to the Americas. Chinese naval forces occupy bases in Iceland, Great Britan, Azores, Senegal, Angola and South Africa and becomes arbiters of peace in Atlantic. Latin America acknowledges Chinese military as well as economic dominance leaving the USA isolated with its Canadian and Mexican allies.

Disabled Policies, US, Europe, World

Sunday, August 12th, 2012

As for the Anarchist position on disability, I am assuming it is benign neglect, but it might be more like in an advanced welfare state where a significant set of resources are allocated if the imagined anarchist society were to exist. But based on current Anarchist collectives around the USA there is no mutual aid for disabled, no funds being set aside for retirement, no homes for disabled or elderly, nothing. Anarchists rely on the church, state and private industry, no different from the rest of society.

Unfortunately I cannot find anyplace that rates level of services to disabled by nation. But it seems that generally in the advanced industrial nations the services are higher. Europe seems to be backsliding in its treatment of the disabled due to the economic crisis. In the USA the federal government seems to be holding to its commitments but the states are cutting back; fallout from the recession with property values down.

Based on what I can find out about the Republican plans for health care, they should not be supported by any elderly or disabled persons if they are worried about losing Medicare. The Republicans plan to abolish it and replace it with a voucher system.

The recession has hit disabled workers especially hard. I personally have found that as soon as potential employers found out I was disabled the job offers disappeared. I may have to settle for some low paying job that I am overqualified for simply to make ends meet as my unemployment benefits have expired.

Anarchist Article on Disabled

Paper on quality of life for disabled and elderly in Tehran

UN Statement

Swedish Disability policy

Cutbacks in services across Europe

World Disability Report

UK Cuts in Disability Alowance

Republican Plans for Medicare

Democratic position on Disabled

Republican Positions on Healthcare

State Of Disability in USA

State of California Budget Effect on Disabled

Effect of Recession on Disabled Workers

Electoral Circus, Some Not So Pleasant Facts And Predjudices

Saturday, August 11th, 2012

This is sad, I have come to the point where I simply want the malaise in government and in the economy to end. The Democrats should relinquish power, go into the opposition and simply block the most heinous right-wing social legislation. Let the Republicans get the economy going again and try again in four years. The Democrats have been out foxed by the Republicans, Obama, no Johnston or Roosevelt has been unable to knock heads and get the economy running. Mostly because he seems to have lost the confidence of the corporate world. I could be wrong, and I certainly hope I am, perhaps this recession is a symptom of large world wide structural changes and cannot be resolved on the national level. If that is the case then the Republicans will soon be just as discredited as the Democrats. Perhaps then the left will get its act together, break with the Democrats and form a populist party. Fat chance.

A wild card in all this is the climate. If the drought conditions continue and food prices skyrocket, the question of global climate change may become an issue again. It has been off the agenda for a few years. Certainly it is an important issue that neither party wants to deal with, Obama tried pushing his green agenda with limited success, mostly because the US was too late entering the market and it is now dominated by the Chinese and Japanese. We can thank the free market for that. Scientists seem to consider global climate change to be a big deal. Perhaps the politicians will catch on, if the citizenry begin to poll that it matters. Unfortunately science has lost credibility being associated with the big government agenda of world domination.

I tend to think Romney is an old fashioned corporatist. Whats good for corporate America is good for the world. Picking Ryan as VP was a smart move to camouflage that even more. After all this election is simply between elites who want a corporate agenda, and elites who want a different corporate agenda. I have found myself actually considering voting Republican for the first time in my life. At least then the Congress will stop most of its obstructionism and some stimulus plans will be implemented and much of the corporate money being hoarded overseas will come back and be in play again. Social policy will suffer, but what the hell at least there will be jobs again.

There is a problem on the left, there is a basic liberal bias which assumes that the Democratic agenda is correct and only needs better implementation, if only the people would understand that Democrats want to help the middle classes. This is an argument that is under attack from the right mainly because the left is still enamored with Soviet style corporatism. Defenders of Cuba are not going to find much more than nostalgic sympathy from old hippies and little else. The left has been totally marginalized, largely because of its retreat into identity politics. Labor attempts to represent the interests of the workers, but those workers are increasingly brown skinned and seen as alien by the remaining white working majority. Unions are seen as impotent or working against the interests of the white working classes who have now decided to turn to the Republicans, IE to where the money is, and bet on their business oriented trickle down theories. There is something innately appealing about an argument that says “if you work hard and play by the rules you will get ahead.” The problem is that this class sees the rules being gamed to their disadvantage, and the Republicans have succeeded in making it seem that the Democrats have gamed it for the benefit of gays, minorities and upper class elites.

The white working class do not want to lose what they have, Social Security and Medicare, but they seem to see these not as government institutions but as some kind of god given right. Therefore they do not identify this as a political issue, at least not unless they are elderly or disabled.

One issue that could be brought up is school funding. Student loans and grants are essential to the upward mobility of the working and middle classes. The Republicans have managed to turn this issue into one of teachers salaries and pensions, blaming the service providers for cutbacks in education spending when it is a result of the recession and a stressed tax base. Increased taxes on corporations would go a long way to remedy this situation, but the Republicans have managed to turn this into another organized labor busting maneuver. Again the Democrats have been out foxed. Labor and the Democrats should hit back hard, but the more they argue they represent the workers the more the Republicans argue that they are harming the social good of the great white middle class. Republicans have convinced working white Americans that teachers, state employees, and other remaining unionized bodies are the reason why the rest of the working classes are suffering low wages and unemployment. It is an absurd argument, but in an environment where the right wing has been able to make sacrosanct the anonymous “tax paying citizen” as some sort of last ditch defender of the American Way -”Heterosexual Monogamy, Christianity, and Free Enterprise,” there is simply a line drawn in the sand and the social vision of the Right is a strong force at this time.

Perhaps they do have a point, perhaps America does not want a social welfare state. Let the old and young and poor fend for themselves, in a Dickinsonian version of the capitalist state. “May I have some more, please.” Keep the lower orders in their place, begging. Let the church take care of them as in feudal times. That is not what the Right sees, they see themselves as the original Patriots, Sons of the American Revolution, middle class burgers, defending their right to make a profit and not have it all taken by some distant state for the benefit of the slovenly, lazy Irish, or Negros, or Mexicans or what ever. They are the true Athenians, a city state in the 5th century BC that had some 78,000 inhabitants of which some 14,000 could vote. Only the tried and true of the right families should and could vote in ancient Athens and that is basically what the new Right wants, some limited form of Democracy, with a return to property qualifications to eliminate the riff raff from the voting polls. Or so it seems. When Democrats fight back to defend voting rights it is called pandering to illegal immigrants. Red blooded Americans simply cannot stand the sight of these brown people taking jobs that nobody wants, and showing up in places where decent Americans would prefer to keep to themselves. There is some rhetoric about abiding by the laws, but that is a smokescreen for keeping the brown masses out. Just like there was a time when the yellow masses had to be kept out. There may be a legitimate argument about saving jobs, but that is more of an issue when we think of outsourced jobs in the millions, much more significant that Mexicans taking restaurant positions.

The fact that the Democrats have betrayed their own base especially under Clinton who acquiesced to Republican demands such as deregulation and eliminating welfare is another aspect of the problem. It got to the point where there really was little difference between the party agendas. Then Gore tried to campaign on a social issue that appealed to the upper middle classes, the environment, although he did so in a half-assed manner that obfuscated the issue more than clarified it, and that led to the current boondoggle where because of the lack of legitimacy of the Democrats, people don’t believe in climate science. Republicans continue to insist that it is all part of normal variation, while most all scientists are being treated as adjuncts to the Democrats, IE illegitimate arms of the big government conspiracy.
Since the left is so fragmented and woefully under funded, and the Unions have become an increasingly embattled special interest group, there is no left wing alternative to the Republicans and Democrats. Things could change, but it would take a major disaffection with the Tea Party and the Republicans on the part of the majority of the white working class. This could happen, I say give em enough rope, eventually they will hang themselves. Meanwhile unfortunately it seems the left will need some charismatic figure to unite it, or at least the retirement of the last of the sixties generation before some movement happens. Occupy certainly was an attempted breath of fresh air, but mostly it is the same old players attempting to wear new garb.

Thats my two cents worth.

Dem Governors Claim Republicans Sabotaging Economy

Overseas Wealth And Jobs

End Of Belief-Beginning Of Transformation

Friday, August 10th, 2012

It seems that I am coming to an end of belief systems. There was a time when I thought I had it all figured out. Anarchist-communist theory, direct democracy, eliminate American imperialism, cut military budget in half, use it for fixing the social welfare system. Then cut it down to a purely defensive force and contributions to an international peace keeping force. A military budget of maybe $250 billion should be adequate, that is more than the Chinese and Russian defense budgets combined. It is a little more than a third of the current budget. That would seem reasonable. Especially to an internationalist peace freak like myself.

But as I get older, and older, and more fucked up, and more broke, I become more and more dependent on the system. I require the state to deliver the goods because the private economy simply has no use for disabled older persons. Even if I can function at the same level as before, perhaps minus the overtime, but with the loss of an independent left labor movement, and outsourcing of jobs, the wages paid to Americans has eroded. Only in demand high tech professionals can expect compensation. There are plenty of jobs, just with descriptions that leave me out.

Because I am on dialysis I am dependent on the system. All I can do is agitate for more benefits and to protect those that exist. It is not good enough to know stuff about history, or geography, or weather and cultural anthropology. Being literate is not enough, what is required is to be able to write code. Long strings of code. I am not a code writer, I could barely pass my logic class. Thus I am left telling stories, and not only my personal adventures but the mythological tales of future self destruction of the end of time. The world for some reason is waiting for the end. It may be a result of the collapse of belief systems, Capitalism sucks and socialism is boring. Anarchists are simply unrealistic and what is left, some kind of fundamentalism. Stick your head in the metaphysical dirt and eat shit while groveling before some imagined deity. Yeah I know, harsh, but we are biological systems with some spiritual content. What is is this, desire for endings, to get it over with, the big bang because some deity is going to lift the chosen ones up out of this muck and mire into a land of puffy cloud furniture. It is totally irrational.

If you are some type of Gnostic, you may believe in a complex system of grades of heavens, or if a Hindu, different worlds to go to for different spirit souls depending on the place you are attracted to, or the deity you identify with. Total liberation, Mukti, Nirvana, Sat - Chit - Ananda, is a realization of one’s true nature, it is not attachment to one deity or another, although ones true nature may be in service to one deity or another on the next plane of existence. It is logical, only it is outside of this reality. That is why so many people are willing to die in moments of heroic attribution, it is because they are entering a higher state of existence and realize that it doesn’t matter what happens to the flesh. Either that or they are truly fucked.

So why waste time with the world? Got to do something, killing time, performing custodial functions, burning off bad karma, we all have our reasons for being here. So we are transforming our material universe, making it too hot to handle, uncomfortable, we are burning our bridges while we prepare for the end of this world more or less.

Empire Notes, A Brief World Roundup.

Saturday, August 4th, 2012

The position of the United States on top of the world pile is fraught with challenges. The USA has to maintain the largest military by far. It has to be able to fight wars in 2 or 3 locals around the world at any given time. It has to maintain a huge nuclear weapons arsenal. It also has to lead economically or at least be in the top tier, to do this it has sacrificed infrastructure, the education of its youth, the well being of its poor and middle classes, and has to gear its economic policies around world domination.

In some respects the USA is becoming like the later Roman Empire, after incursions by barbarians, Osama’s attack on New York and Washington, DC can be likened to Alric’s raid on Rome in 410 AD. It shocked the world to see the capital of the largest power in the world assaulted by a rag tag army of barbarians. The Al Qaeda terrorists are our modern day barbarians. A barbarian is someone who doesn’t uphold and value the same cultural norms as you do. When the USA proved to be vulnerable, it went into overdrive to protect the state, first by attacking and defending, and now by defending, because attacking and defending at the same time are simply too expensive. But the Romans didn’t have drones, and the USA does. This is the further abstracting of warfare into a robotic process, with the envisioned result that American robot armies attack primitive tribal groups on alien worlds and wipe them out without much compunction about the collateral damage. Citizens are not affected by seeing loved ones die, after all robots are not alive, at least not yet.

In reality I have mixed two periods from Roman history, the increased militarization began in the third century AD. By the time of the assault on Rome by Alric, there had been over a century of this process, resulting in the breakdown of the empire. It simply had become too expensive a place to live and life among the barbarians began to look better for many people. The Roman system really collapsed under its own weight. The USA may not be close to collapse, but it is increasingly militarized. We may be entering a period where militarization becomes so predominant in the culture that people begin to look elsewhere with envy at the better quality of life lived by the rest of the world. So far only a handful of states have higher standards of living, but that is the trend and the USA might become the muscle bound giant that ends up unable to respond rapidly enough to the times and collapses out of sheer weight.

So far, so good, the USA still attracts the best and brightest from around the world, its universities are still top notch and it is still a leader in innovation, some of which such as its financial wizardry led to the current world recession. If the goal was to topple Europe and put it in its place as a subordinate power, then the US has succeeded brilliantly. But Europe never was a unified force and certainly not a military threat. But interestingly the USA has shifted the weight of its military planning to East Asia and China, the next great power unless the US can knock them down a peg. This will be tricky, they are an economic powerhouse with a smart leadership without democratic constraints.

The policy will be to try and surround China and limit its access to resources around the world by dominating shipping lanes and choke points. So far if that is the plan it is not evidently succeeding as the Chinese are in Latin America and Africa. The only way to beat the Chinese numbers is to turn that numerical advantage against them by forcing an economic slow down. A stagnant economy with a large unemployed work force will be explosive in China. Limiting access to resources will be hard as long as Russia and China are on good terms. Limiting access to markets will demand either an induced recession to reduce demand, or imposing tariffs. Tariffs are tantamount to a declaration of war, an induced recession on the other hand is a pretty slick mechanism. Forcing the Chinese to use financial reserves to artificially prop up the economy by massive infrastructure programs or simply giving aid to millions of unemployed is one result. China plays close to the vest, it does not make aggressive moves around the world militarily, only acting to preserve and protect vital interests near at hand. Most of its moves are economic.

India is the wild card in all of this. Having chosen a corrupt form of democratic rule, lacking the infrastructure or coherent governing bodies, its billion or so people are essentially a neutral force, impacting certain areas of the world market, but almost in a haphazard manner, a result of a lack of proper planning on the national level. If it did become more organized then it could be a proper influence on the world scene, the USA is doing its best to keep India compromised by playing it off against Pakistan, a militarized failed democratic state propped up by military aid from the USA among others. It provides a thorn in the side of India that keeps its military focus on repelling attacks from terrorists and the Pakistani military. Interesting to see how since the Bush administration the US has held the carrot of free play in the nuclear field for India, while at the same time allowing the stick of Pakistan to attack India. Indian policy makers must see the USA as a strange ally indeed.

Then there is the Middle East. What a house of cards… unstable kingdoms and dictatorships, dependent on US military technology to prop up regimes that have to threaten or bribe their populaces into acquiescence. Sooner or later there will be explosions like Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen, Libya, and now Syria. This is all part of a policy to insure that the US is the dominant outside influence, attempting to remove socialist and pro-Iranian forces. The Islamic brotherhoods seem to have made their deals with the devil to get into power and no longer pose the threat to Israel, America’s darling outpost in that part of the world. Only the pro-Iranian forces are a threat to western hegemony allied to the Sunni Sheikh’s of Arabia and perhaps an incipient revival of Russian power which so far has only been able to resist western encroachment in Syria its erstwhile Socialist ally. Even here it has to act somewhat surreptitiously worried about the American reaction. Which is only constrained by Obama’s policies of limited response and collaborative efforts with the European allies.

At least we have the Olympics to demonstrate people can compete without blowing one another to pieces, at least most of the time. Here the US teams can dominate and the only result is more gold metals and bragging rights. If only the rest of the world was so benign.

Enough Fooling Around, World Politics Again

Wednesday, August 1st, 2012

Its 4 am, I can’t sleep. Got personal stuff on the brain. But I want to discuss politics, at least in this domain I am not totally ignorant.
I noticed the latest ad from Stratfor, they are pushing subscriptions for their analysis of world affairs as a way to be the smartest guy at the party. Quite a come down from their lofty policy analysis claims. I have read some of their reports, something any well read history, international affairs, or geography major could come up with. They are written for the average idiot who knows nothing of the world except what they see on CNN. I am not impressed.

Syria has become the new center of the cold war. China and Russia are realigning and forming an uneasy alliance to keep the smaller countries around them at bay. That is pretty obvious in the stand they have taken to hold the line in Syria, supporting secular power, and traditional allies, come hell or high water. The west, led by the US are now in an alliance with the Sunni Arab powers of the Arabian Peninsula, Turkey and Israel against Iran in particular but the forming alliance of Russia and China in general. The loss of Libya as a friendly country to the Russians, their aspirations to become the leaders of a new post Soviet Russian sphere of influence, and the rising economic and military might of China, which still needs to some extent the protective shield of the Russian nuclear might to pursue its policy of economic infiltration of the world. As the dominant economic powerhouse, the Chinese have spread to South America, and Africa in particular looking for resources and partners in markets where they can come to offer a serious alternative to the old western European and American hegemony that has existed for the last century or so.

India interestingly is leaning towards the US and Israel as their allies having mostly let go of their old alliance with the Russians. Something that was mostly done I think after independence as a snub to the British who had fought against Russian attempts to reach the Indian Ocean in the 19th century in that region of the world, the so called “Great Game”. Now India sees China as its greatest threat after Pakistan. But the potential if there was a Chinese, Russian and Indian alliance is to create the greatest powerhouse in the world with Russian resources, Chinese organization and Indian ingenuity. Certainly China and India are two of the worlds traditional centers of civilization and power which was usurped by the west in the 18th and 19th centuries. A drop in the historical bucket. It seems that a great realignment of power is about to occur, the USA is rightly focusing on Asia, although the absurd placement of a few troops in northern Australia is mere symbolism. The best they can hope for is to keep Singapore and Indonesia in line and give a little reassurance to the Australian elite who are fearful of the dominance of China as their main consumer of raw materials. Its more a racist reaction than a rational way to think. They are no more historically likely to remain a white island in a yellow sea, than they are of remaining true to the Commonwealth, a rapidly less and less relevant entity as Great Britain becomes little more that a shopping destination for wealthy Chinese and Saudi’s making the grand tour of the quaint world of the old European powers.

The USA in its relatively isolated position in North America has still the greatest physical land in the world with abundant agricultural land and energy resources in primarily coal, but also the great transportation system that the Missouri-Mississippi-Ohio rivers complex offers along with the Great Lakes as a means of moving bulk commodities from one part of the world to another at relatively cheap rates. American Corn is king. If climate change undercuts the ability for this breadbasket to continue to be a cornucopia then American dominance with wither on the vine. This is serious and is not discussed outside of circles of policy wonks. Having recently taken a course in physical geography where the emphasis was on the ongoing environmental transformation being brought on by the green house effect of industrial pollution, this is not something to be poo-pooed away as environmentalist hyperbole. The weather is something to be taken seriously as are earthquakes, tsunami’s and volcanic activity. One good eruption can lower the worlds temperature a couple of degrees for a year or more from the dust thrown up into the atmosphere, as an example.

With China and India developing as fast as they can, the earth will soon be stripped of raw metals and there will have to be an immense recycling industry to reclaim what has been combined into finished goods, or an intense extraction of the oceans floor starting with the continental shelves. China is well aware of the value of the South China Sea and wants to stake its claim to it as the surface minerals are rapidly depleted. At this rate how much longer can we expect current alliances to hold? In my mind what will happen is a further development of the tendencies I have described with places like India swinging back and forth. Poor little Syria will be ripped apart by these political tectonic plates and there is little to do about it but send in aid for the suffering civilians. This is not about democracy, it is about power realignments in the world system. We should not lose sight of that in the desire to mitigate the suffering of the people directly on the ground.

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