March 30, 2011
Earlier I complained about Samantha Power’s book about Western powers’ failure to prevent genocides in recent history. Her book had aspects of historical fiction. For example, she asserts that had the US destroyed and jammed Rwandan communications the genocide would have fizzled out. Would those murderers really have given up so easily? Her position assumes that genocide can be averted cheaply with little risk to American soldiers. Now she’s back arguing that the US should prevent mass murder in Libya. Her position will be put to the test because Qaddafi will likely fight to the bloody end. If air support is not enough and the ragtag rebels can’t push towards Tripoli, Libya will descend into long-term civil war. Will the US and NATO provide more assistance to help the rebels, such as weapons, training, communications, air power, etc? How much and for how long will the West support one side in a civil war? It’s been 10 years since her book was published and she still doesn’t have a rationale beyond “genocide is bad, please stop it!”.
I believe that the US must commit to a policy goal and be willing to apply all resources to quickly achieve that goal. But that means you need the support of the people and Congress, which probably requires that it be a direct threat to the US. Obama said it is US policy that Qaddafi must go. Is he willing to commit US troops to finish the job? Are the American people willing to see soldiers die (remember Somalia?) for a civil war that doesn’t threaten us? I doubt it. Afghantistan is the only recent war that was a direct threat to the US and deserved to get smashed. Pakistan’s Waziristan area is IMO looking like another area that deserves to get flattened.
Right now the best NATO can hope for is another Afghanistan. US Special Forces armed, trained and followed Afghan Northern Alliance fighters. They were able to call in air support to destroy Taliban forces and quickly capture the country. It is very likely that the US is threatening and bribing the generals around Qaddafi right now, urging them to give up or die. If I were running things, I’d tell the various tribes in Libya that they’ll get double their current income from oil without Qaddafi stealing all that money. In the end, money talks.
March 24, 2011
I’m listening to Henry Kissinger defend supporting dictators for our national security interests. The choice is not obviously autocracy vs. democracy with an amiable government. Everyone would choose a nice Nordic democracy were it possible. Instead, the choice is usually presented as autocracy vs. some scary unknown bogeyman. In Egypt the bogeyman is the Muslim Brotherhood, an organization dedicated to destroying Israel and opposing the US. Given a choice like that, everyone would hold their nose and choose the dictator. And dictators know this. They kill the political center to leave the lunatics as the only alternative. This forces the US to continue supporting the dictators.
This approach looks good in the short-term, but is bad for the US in the long-term. By supporting Mubarak and the military, we’ve made 1 friend and 80 million enemies. We’ve also condemned Egypt to 50 years of terror and economic stagnation under Sadat and Mubarak. During the Cold War this may have been the only alternative, especially since the Muslim Brotherhood really were wackos back then. But since the Cold War ended and the US is the last superpower standing, we are in a position to generally take the high road in foreign policy. This means sacrificing some short-term stability for, hopefully, longer-term gains. Despite the rhetoric of the Bush and Obama administrations, they’ve continued to coddle dictators.
The main reasons the US meddles in the Middle East is (1) to guarantee our supply of oil and (2) to protect Israel. The first is not a serious problem. Most oil producing countries are in such severe debt that they need to sell oil in the international market to keep their kleptocracies going. And if they raise prices too much we’ve got the know-how, but not the self-control, to cut oil consumption enormously. I’m pretty sure higher oil prices give the US an economic advantage vs. China. The second is also fairly easy. Put American arms and troops in Israel and promise to blow the shit out of any attacker, just as the US already does now in Korea.
It is true that democracy is more than just elections. Democracy is a culture that allows Bush to take office even though the Supreme Court blatantly stole the election. The most likely scenario for Egypt’s next election is there will be rampant voter fraud, the winner will be illegitimate, all sides will go nuts and the military will install another strong man to enforce order.
November 1, 2010
Recently girls everywhere shrieked hysterically because the interwebs was rude to one of them. An anonymous troll complimented a female cartoonist with an over-the-top joke playing on her gender. She felt offended by the comment and a minor fracas ensued. I will now fulfill panel #9 in the linked cartoon above and Mansplain why women are wrong.
The Internet is rude, crass, juvenile and funny. There’s a style of humor that is popular on many forums dominated by grown-up boys that is similar to Beavis & Butthead. Unfortunately, this style of humor doesn’t go over well with everyone. For example, the phrase “sandy vagina” is hilarious to some men, but some women find it offensive. When a friend is complaining about something, I might say, “What’s the matter Bob, got sand in your vagina?” It’s intended as a humorous way of saying Bob is getting worked up about something trivial. Why use this particular phrase? Honestly, I don’t know where it came from but the imagery is funny. I might have said “Bob has a bee in his bonnet”, but that’s a dated expression and not at all funny.
When someone utters the phrase “sandy vagina”, does the intent and context of the comment matter? Some women are arguing that if they feel offended, it is offensive. I think many men consider the intent of the comment before deciding to be offended. Of course this can also lead to confusion: if I call Bob a douchebag in jest, he may think I’m serious and punch me in the nose. For some reason this doesn’t happen often. Men don’t seem to take these comments too seriously.
This all reminds me of the court cases involving the Child Online Protection Act (COPA) in 2004. In an attempt to attack Internet pornography, federal prosecutors twisted the “offends the community standard” test by filing suit in the most conservative community they could find. They argued that if any one community is offended, then that porn is offensive and should be stopped by COPA. Lewd and crude comments on the Internet are similar. I’m not offended, nor are most people on Fark, reddit, Digg, Youtube, etc. But some women believe that if any one person or group is offended, then those comments are, de facto, offensive. I disagree based on the same logic that defends porn from COPA. Those women need to get the sand out of their collective vagina and toughen up.
September 14, 2010
I might have a teeny tiny bit of Asperger’s syndrome. Whenever I take those online tests for empathy or systematizing I score far into the autistic range. Of course, these are just online tests and should not be taken seriously. The thing that struck me is that many people who scored very low on empathy described exactly my experience interacting with people. I can’t read how people feel at all. In the absence of information, I assume people dislike me. If I’m talking to someone, I’ll assume they’re bored and end the conversation quickly to let them escape from me. Smalltalk bores me to tears. I am entirely logical and rarely feel strong emotions. I don’t understand other people’s motivations. And women are especially perplexing because they seem to be a giant bundle of contradictions. Women seem to find my sense of humor off-putting, which then makes me nervous talking to them. I have to censor everything I say to carefully be as banal and non-threatening as possible. With men, on the other hand, I can let my humor rip because only pansies are going to get upset. Nevertheless, I’m going to try to do something about it. I’m going to try to chat with people until they punch me in the face. No pain, no gain.
September 10, 2010
Just now Obama said that extending the Bush tax cuts would “give” an average of $100K back to millionaires. While I agree with him that the tax cuts should not be extended, I don’t like the rhetoric of Democrats on taxes. The money we pay in taxes is OUR money, taken by force by the government. I know that sounds hysterically right wing, but if you fail to pay taxes guys with guns will throw you in jail. This unfortunate attitude among Democrats causes them to act like they’ve got a pile of free money that they can redistribute as They see fit. The phrasing I would prefer is tax cuts will “take less” money, rather than tax cuts will “give” money, to the American people. I want government officials to feel deeply that they must spend MY money carefully. That’s not the way things work now.
August 26, 2010
This and this post reaffirms that some angry feminists have trouble with logic and math. Basically, they are terrified of strange men because some men are rapists. This logical fallacy is common among the mentally challenged. Right now, right-wing psychos are apoplectic about the Park51 mosque in NYC. Their reasoning is that most terrorists are Muslims, therefore Muslims might be terrorists. Similarly, since most pedophiles are white men, are white men pedophiles? Bitches are women, are women bitches? This fallacy might be called affirming the consequent, though I found a better term for it recently but can’t recall it.
The second problem with this is mathematical. Women are more likely to suffer violence at the hands of men they already know! It is sad and sickening, but women are far, far more likely to raped by their friend, date, boyfriend/husband. A large number of murders are women shot by their husband/boyfriend. Little girls are far more likely to be molested by close relatives. It is statistically unlikely to be raped by a stranger. Of course it happens. And when it does it is plastered all over the news (“Beware of men walking behind you at night!!!”) to scare the crap out of women. But the news does not report the zillions of date rapes occurring every night. So women are comfortable getting plastered with a guy on a date (high risk), but terrified of walking home at night (low risk). With mad math skillz like that, is it any wonder there aren’t more female scientists?
August 26, 2010
Over four days recently nearly 200 women and 4 baby boys were gang raped in the Congo. This was perpetrated by 200 to 400 rebels attacking in groups of 3 to 6. I would make a terrible rebel. First, I will not dip my dick in 5 men’s leftover spooge. Second, it would be difficult to maintain an erection while I’m holding down the victim and waiting my turn. I can’t even pee when someone’s standing at the next urinal. Finally, I would need to take a nap afterward. I won’t have the energy to continue pillaging the village, nor would I be able to rape anyone else. Though the Congolese rebels are certainly vile, one must admire their virility.