Archive for Diplomacy

Old and Current U.S. Enemies

 

Our Congress is chockablock with Boomers. Alas, as one myself, I had anticipated and hoped that my folk would be smarter and more moral, a.k.a. more American, than the WWII crowd that thrust us into stupid, unnecessary wars, and whistled mindless tunes as federal and state governments took away the rights of millions.

Sure hasn’t happened. Boomer bozos like G.W. Bush and Bill Clinton were as bad as their parents’ generation.

A surprising constant has been the ever-shifting them in the us vs. them theater. Frankly, the WWI and WWII folk were more simpleminded and thus kept the enemies clearer. We grew up with the commies under the beds (fantastical and irrational) and vestiges of the Yellow Peril (horde of Asians imagined to be massing for invasion, the racist trope).

What could be simpler than ID’ing Soviets and various Asians as the other, each and all intent on destroying our noble and glorious nation? Surely our lives were superior to those of the other, nefarious groups eager to take our stuff and snuff out our lives.

Somehow Boomers’ parents and grandparents could overlook the likes of:

  • Jailing large numbers of Japanese-Americans and small groups of Italian- and German-Americans in concentration (euphemistically internment) camps
  • Draconian voting laws and shameful economic and educational policies for African Americans
  • Endless and meaningless wars in Asia, Africa and even parts of Europe

Having spent much of my young childhood as a bit player in the Occupation Army in Japan, I had a different view of the alleged Yellow Peril. A few native Japanese chums did have their own baggage, slandering Koreans and Chinese folk, but I came to learn that likely was from long-standing nationalistic and perceived racial vestiges.  For some, awareness of military behavior in those countries surely brought deflective criticism.

Binary Simplicity

Boomers did have a now surprisingly binary upbringing. Not only did we inherit the culture of pre-War movies, but we got the new world of TV and of course literature. There were black hats and white hats, villains and heroes, Allies and Axis armies — us vs. them. Many too bought into puerile lit that munged that binary culture with politics, specifically the likes of Ayn Rand’s addlepated novels. She was best at welding oppressive sexuality to economic theory.

Ah, but it was so clean and easy. You could know who the good and the bad guys were…and what behaviors and words showed you were in the former group.

In contrast, nuance is hard. For example, we really can’t plant Thomas Jefferson entirely at one end of the moral spectrum.  How comforting it must be to live as a religious fundamentalist or political camp-follower. Check your brain at the door and you can always know you are a good guy.

The few current dictators, like Kim Jong-un and Vladimir Putin at least simplify diplomacy in their realms. If Donald Trump had the powers he imagines, free of judicial oversight and with a totally compliant Congress, he could quickly turn our nation into a villain state as well.

I think I can well do without the racist Yellow-Peril and other simpleminded excuses to fear and hate.

 

 

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Whither Dems Podcast

rightsign2The Trump win Tuesday is the right time to stop these weekly podcasts after 9½ years. Watch this URL for occasional commentary, maybe a little video…later.

Today was my usual half-Vulcan Spock self.

We shall survive as a nation, as we did during and after the George W. Bush time. He ruined the economy even more than the typical Republican. We haven’t climbed all the way out of his debt pit. We’ll never get back the many thousands of lives lost to war and jobs destroyed. I fear more of that from Trump.

I snort as Speaker Ryan and GOP sorts claim mandate. The lost the popular vote, held the House only due to gerrymandering in previous years, and hold a paper-thin Senate majority. Mandate, my bad head!

We don’t yet know what malicious laws Congress will try to enact. We do know that the wave of emotion that brought us President Trump is as irrational and ignorant as he. We need look no farther than comparing the cries of do-nothing Congress and throw the rascal out to right-wing voters keeping nearly all the do-nothings and rascals from the GOP in office. Huge duh.

We’ll surely have at least two years of pettiness and malice. As the economy slides and unemployment climbs, even the loudest Trumpettes will feel shame. Let us look historically to see in the last century that again and again Dems have rescued the nation after the GOP has goofed it up.

It’s going to be a rough, disheartening, anti-American two to four years.

icon for podpress  Whither Dems [18:22m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download

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:Hillary’s Email (Eek! Mail) Podcast

No free ride for Hillary Clinton. Yes, the FBI cleared her of criminal wrongdoing in its probe of her use of private email servers. Yet, it deemed that doing so was “extremely careless” and in particular did not follow federal protocols for archiving government records.

Those who hated and slandered her before are not about to start publicly apologizing to her or those in their social-media feeds. Plus, the fast majority of us who have been saying for a year or more that this would be the result also haven’t changed our opinion.

My questions were more along the lines of what does this mean to the third to half of the electorate who hadn’t totally made up their minds? I talk through why I think it will be a wash for her. The moderates and independents are likely to be more open to her. She’ll be a bump from the pending Democratic convention. The Hillary and sick-of-Democrats-in-the-White-House types won’t change their minds at all. I bet she’ll get a very modest bump in the polls when this settles.

 

icon for podpress  Hillary's Eek-mail [22:42m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download

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Post bin Laden Opportunities Podcast

Flippancy aside (this show was billed Zombie bin Laden), we ended talking about this huge moment, including but far beyond Osama bin Laden’s take-down. We ended up calling for progressive sorts to think about what they want our government to do and let the Administration and Congress know.

Sure, Al Qaeda is still there and it or similar terrorists will hit small and maybe big short- and mid-term. Yet, in this democratic spring of aspiring nations trying to throw off their oppressive governments throughout North Africa and the Middle East, we have a greater opportunity to create partners and allies. Properly handled, we could stifle terrorists and create a more peaceful larger world. This is a moment like none other since the end of WWII.

In today’s show, Ryan and Mike spoke of some of the things we need to change, and chances for us to tell our President and Congressional delegations to do. There’s the hundreds of billions annually thrown away on Cold War defenses against non-existent enemies (Rep. Barney Frank is on that and will need support). There’s the craziness that torturing people and massively spying on Americans keeps us safe. In fact, those are what bin Laden wanted to drive us to all along.

Listen in as we kick around what we see as the opportunities available. We want to see time, effort and money spent more on expanding a democratic world, rather than pretending we can build and hide in a Fortress U.S.A.

icon for podpress  Zombie bin Laden [27:35m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download

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Egypt and U.S. Podcast

We never got to Reagan. As a nod and grunt to his 100th natal anniversary, we thought we’d talk about foreign policy. We did but only current events.

We looked at the crisis in Egypt and the vacillating response of the U.S., particularly President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton. As the Mubarak government slowly seems to begin accepting that it has to go, our own leaders have sent mixed and confusing messages.

Listen in as we play pure pundits.

icon for podpress  Egypt and U.S. [30:30m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download

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WikiLeaks Podcast

As always, Ryan was more sanguine about the public’s collective wisdom. As opposed to Mike, he concluded that further WikiLeak revelations would likely convince many of us that revealing hidden (but in redacted form) classified documents would be a good thing.

We discussed the impacts and implication of the leaks, of the pursuit of the editor-in-chief, and what it means for small-d democracy and the larger U.S. system of diplomacy. During the show, Mike checked and found that numerous live listeners were on, but none chose to speak.  He hoped that this did not indicate a trepidation that mirrored recent fears of being accused of terrorism or anti-American behavior.

Regardless, we discussed the unfortunate long-term trend of overclassifying documents and trying to hide information from the public — lying in more common parlance. We agreed it’s past time for the the executive and legislative branches to order evaluation and declassification.

Listen in as we hit this and that. Granted, we had the advantage of considerable current coverage in news and blogs. You have even more now. Feel free to comment.

Related Post: Mike comments at Marry in Massachusetts.

icon for podpress  Wicked? WikiLeaks [57:40m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download

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