Cawfee Tawk

Caffeine inspired ramblings from the Right Coast

Monday, January 01, 2007

Once more around the Sun

Well... uhhhhh, so like.... it's been a while.
Year and a bit, actually.

Anyway, it's officially 2007 (Happy New Year!) and since King George took office in 2000 each trip around the Sun has been more fucked up than the last. I fully expect this year to be crazier than last. No resolutions on my part (not even a promise to blog more), but I will make a few predictions.

1. The Taliban will surge out of southern Afganistan in the spring, driving ISAF back to Kabul, and perhaps further. NATO simply doesn't have the numbers to control the terrain and provide security to the populace. The Soviets lost with c. 150,000 troops backed by an equal number of Afghan client troops. Short of putting a million or more troops on the ground, NATO will be shown the door in a few years at most.

2. The US, and perhaps Israel will bomb Iran in the first half of the year. I predicted this would happen last autumn, prior to the US mid-term elections, and was wrong. I don't profess to have a crystal ball, but attacking Iran is central to US geo-political strategy. Iran is the natural regional hegemon due primarily to its population of 70 million. The elite in Israel (population 7 million) are terribly threatened by this, as Iran could usurp their position as the dominant power in the region. They are pushing hard for an attack to set back Iran's (legal) nuclear program, and it's economy in general. Secondly, messing up Iran will set back their ability to supply energy to America's main strategic rival, China. The ultimate goal here is control of strategic energy resources. The US can feel it's position of global hegemony slipping from its grasp, and will lash out to prevent the rise of those who might challenge it. Make no mistake, the American foriegn policy elite feel that the US has been annointed by "GOD" as the natural leaders of the world, and this is just one move on the chess board to reach that goal.

3. When the US/Israel attack Iran, the American army in Iraq will suffer terrible losses. The US lines of communication and supply stretch from Kuwait north toward Baghdad through the Shia heartland. This is the one and only land route by which the US army in Iraq is supplied. It can be cut, or at least pinched in one of two ways. One, the Iranians could send armored divisions into southern Iraq to cut the supply route. American air power would devastate such an attack, but it might cripple US forces in Iraq for weeks, during which time the insurgency could make significant gains and events could spiral out of control. Two, depending on the amount of influence Iran actually has over the Shiite militias in Iraq, those militias which control all the territory the US supplies pass through could turn those highways into shooting galleries. The ability of US forces to respond will be severely curtailed if they are not getting fuel from Kuwait. Either way, the US army in Iraq will be at great risk in the coming year.

4. The US economy will tank. Housing bubble burst. Foreclosures. Falling dollar. Reduced consumption. Recession. Bad.

5. US geo-strategic interests will suffer furhter setbacks in Central Asia, as China and Russia actively attempt to roll back US influence, primarily through the SCO (Shanghai Cooperation Organization). The Cold War never really ended, and while Boris Yeltsin was a compliant whipping boy of the West, Vladimir Putin has cleverly executed a strategy to leverage Russia's natural resource wealth to re-assert Russian power. US-Russia relations will deteriorate further this year. The Chinese are able to play a subtler game, and while opposing or undermining US influence in Asia, Africa and South America, they will still do business with the West. This will be demonstrated by a token revaluation of their currency.

So, as you can tell by my predictions I've become even more obsessed with international geo-politics to the exclusion of almost anything else. I haven't a clue who'll win the national election predicted for the spring. Haven't been following Canadian politics at all.

Anyway, that's some of the chaos I foresee in the coming year. Here's hoping I'm wrong!

Happy New Year.

Peace

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Civil War

There finally appears to be a discussion going on in Washington about withdrawal from Iraq. Rep. Jack Murtha finally broached the subject in a way the Bush administration and mainstream media could not ignore or dismiss. The question now is, behind the rhetoric and posturing, does the administration understand that they have to leave sooner rather than later? And not to safeguard Republican incumbants in the '06 elections. The "coalition" occupation of Iraq must end now to confine the Iraqi Civil War to Iraq, with the hope that the military dominance of the Kurdish and Shia Arabs convince the Sunni's to negotiate. They have no choice now. But in two years when they've built an actual military out of the scattered autonomous insurgent bands, the fighting and death-toll will be terrible. Not that the current level of suffering isn't terrible, but sadly this is a numbers game, and full-blown civil war between contending armies will be much much worse.

Read Cold Mountain at The War in Context, and Shattering Iraq at National Journal. The Iraqi Civil War is under way, and only the US can mitigate its consequences.

Let's hope they understand that.

Peace,
Sabutai

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Uncle Larry gets married

Well, our second family road trip went very well. Märit, Isaac and I drove to Montreal for her sister's (Laura) wedding with Bob, Colleen, and Greg (Märit's folks & brother) in a rented Chevy Suburban. Big truck, very comfortable, but it needs its own oil refinery!

We drove as far as Edmundston the first day and the hotel we stayed at had a chinese restaurant downstairs. Good food. On the way there, we stopped at the NS / NB border to stretch our legs, and Isaac did a little flying! He's watching the flags in the wind off the Tantramar marshes.



So, we arrived in Montreal the next evening and settled in to the hotel on Sherbrook street. Isaac was a big hit with the girls.



Laura and Jasen were married on Sunday. It was my first Jewish wedding, and let me tell you, that's a good time! Isaac thought the whole thing was pretty exciting and decided to tell EVERYONE!



He's quite an orator and soon drew a crowd, including the Bride, aunt Laura (a.k.a. Uncle Larry)




Then it was time for a little break and a snack. Mmmmmmmm, Grandma's hand...



Then there was dancing and food, including an absolutely AMAZING duck a l'orange appetizer. But before the food was the hora. Once all the guests were seated, the bride & groom were introduced, and went right to the dance floor, and the hora started. People converged on the dance floor, the men surrounded Jasen, the women surrounded Laura and started dancing in a circle to live klezmer music. This went on for a while until the bride & groom were hoisted above the crowd in chairs. Then it was the turn of the fathers. Anyway, it was intense, like a friendly mosh pit without elbows (well, OK, a few elbows, and crushed feet, but really happy!). And the band rocked! They played a cool variety of cover tunes, and the singers nailed every performance.

Eventually it was time to head home. Isaac's favorite part of road trips is eating in restaurants. Actually, it's destroying placemats in restaurants.
"Place Maaaaaaat!!!!"



A good time was had by all.

Peace

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Truth and Consequences

The tragic events of the past week have stirred quite a mix of emotions for me.

Sympathy for all those affected by hurricane Katrina.
Outrage at the sight of infants dying in their mothers arms while GWB vacationed.
Indignant dis-belief when the head of FEMA blamed the victims in New Orleans for their dire circumstances.
Incredulity (but not suprise) at the ineptitude of Bush's response, and that of his administration.
On the less pleasant side, I also felt:
Smug satisfaction that America had to endure carnage rather than dish it out for once.
Annoyance that it should be expected that people would be as generous with donations in response to this as to the south-Asian tsunami. Donating to help stricken people in poor countries less able to care for their citizens is one thing. But to the richest country in the world? No.
Not nice, but I felt it.

Now I'm eager to see the political ramifications as they unfold. Previous natural (and man-made) disasters that have had a disproportionate impact on the poor in America caused major political shifts. The response by purposefully enfeebled federal agencies before and during the catastrophe were telling. Coupled with the pitiful and seemingly oblivious performance of GWB, the truth of the newly naked neo-conservative project will come under intense scrutiny and be found wanting.

And I'm also concerned about the long-term economic impact of the ruin of New Orleans. Far more important than the disrupted energy infrastructure is flow of goods into and out of America's heartland. Produce is sent down the Mississippi on barges to New Orleans to be loaded on ships, where industrial raw materials are offloaded from ships and sent up river on barges. There simply isn't the capacity to move the same volume of bulk commodity goods (high volume, low value) by road and rail as there is on the river. While the port facilities are repairable, who is going to work there? Where will they live? New Orleans is where it is for a reason. But you need people to run the ports. This article explains it very clearly. New Orleans: A Geopolitical Prize

The tragidy of hurricane Katrina was a catalyst.
Things have been set in motion that will change much.


Peace

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

The blood-dimmed tide

Things aren't looking so good for GWB & the Neo-cons.

Rather than Iraq becoming a launch pad for further "preventive" wars in the Middle East, they've handed it to Iran on a platter. The best they can do now is badger the Iraqis into negotiating/writing a constitution at break-neck speed in order to ensure Iraq becomes a failed state, providing the necessary excuse for a continued US presence. And if that constitution enshrines Sharia as the primary source of civil law, well, women aren't really people anyway, are they?

And the Bush-league appears to have woken up to the fact that it actually takes a continuous effort of dirty-tricks, bribes, and coups to keep South America compliant to American needs.
A military base large enough to house 16000 troops and many aircraft is being built in Paraguay. The US threatened to withhold aid payments if Paraguay refused. Nice. Why build a base in Paraguay now? Bolivia (200km away) has a restive population fed up with neo-liberal globalization, upcoming elections, and... loads of natural gas. Hmmmmmm. Could the two be linked?

And American televangelist Pat Roberts seems to think the Christian thing to do is assassinate Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez, in order to prevent that country becoming "a launching pad for communist infiltration" and "Muslim extremism." Now, there is NO denying that Roberts is a nut-bar of the first order who spews poison in the guise of morality for a living, but why Chavez, and why now? My personal opinion is that this is a GOP sanctioned tactic designed to take the heat off GWB. Whether it is the beginning of a propaganda campaign leading to an actual move against Chavez is another question. I mean, communism and Muslim extremism? How diametrically opposed can you get? But it certainly covers all the bogey-man bases with the GOP base. GWOT, coming soon to a hemisphere near you!

So, what's a cabal of despotic crack-pots bent on world domination to do?

I've also read on a few blogs that the US military is canceling all leave for September and October, that DRAFT offices have been staffed, and the department of Homeland Security have installed blast/bullet proof glass & doors in those offices. Some of the blogs are pretty “lunatic fringe”, but not all. I'll be interested to see what happens down south this autumn. If there is a draft in 2005, the question is, who is the hammer falling on in '06 or '07?

Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all convictions, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

W.B. Yeats

This could get REAL ugly...

Peace

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

HWARFF!!!

The alarm went off at 6:00AM, waking me with a jolt. Six AM is one of those vile things created to balance the good in this world, just like instant coffee, Wham, and Kathie Lee Gifford. I gulped my coffee (NOT instant!!!) like a man taking his last few breaths, then stumbled into the grim gray morning, waiting for my ride.

We arrived at the dock in twos and threes, milling in confusion, waiting for the crew of our vessel. Then, almost incidentally they arrived and noticed us, but not really. Soon we were aboard with beer and fishing gear. The gray veil lifted.

The merciless sun beat down upon us as we headed to sea. To Hell! A heaving hell of perpetual motion! Each man brought his own kind of hell with him. Some were forced to drink Keith's Light, poor souls. Me? I found no peace on that heaving prison and spewed out my guts as the sea tried to claim my soul. But she would not have it! Three times she tried, but I fought them off. Then, when all seemed lost, we were harbour bound, and I was spared.

The sea is a cruel mistress, and not lightly should she be courted!

Fairly warned be ye, says I!

Aaargh...HWARFF....Aaargh...

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

There and back again...

This past weekend Märit, Isaac and I drove to visit my grandparents in northern New Brunswick. The drives normally takes 5 1/2 to 6 hours, but with stops to feed and placate Isaac it took 9 1/2. Oi Vay! It was a long haul for Isaac and he had a major meltdown Saturday night. But he was good as new on Sunday.

The weather was perfect Saturday and Sunday. We all went for a walk on the beach (Bay of Chaleur) Sunday morning, Isaac and I laid in the grass watching the trees blow in the wind, went for walks to look at wild flowers and touch trees. Isaac saw his first fire Sunday night. He likey! He started laughing a couple of weeks ago, and he laughed more on Sunday than he had in the past 2 weeks.

And of course, all kinds of relatives came by to meet him. He was a big hit.
And there were the obligatory strolls down memory lane looking at photo albums from the depths of time. Ah the 70's! People knew how to dress back then!

We left Monday morning loaded up with various baked good (molassas cookies, cherry pie - cherries picked from their own tree on Saturday!, etc...) and preserves (jams & chow). Mmmmm! The drive home was only 9 hours, but it was still too much for Isaac who went ballistic again when we got home. Hopefully he'll do better in September when we drive to Montreal!

A great time was had by all.