"He who fights terrorists for any period of time is likely to become one himself". - Marwan Bishara
"I am often asked why I maintain the slightly naive expectation that the United States will one day pursue policies in the Middle East that are fair to all in the region, and also comply with international law and core American values. " - Rami Khouri
The saddest news is of the 7.0 earthquake in Haiti, where its being reported that over 100,000 people may have died. Like so many poorer countries, their buildings are substandard and crumbled into dust. And the FBI immediately warned US citizens to be aware of fraudulent relief and care organizations who will take your money and run, cashing in on your compassion. Haiti is one of the poorest countries and won't be able to bounce back without massive help. The surrounding waters have been fished out years ago, the land has been over-farmed and the soil depleted, it has had a long history of political leaders and dictators who have ripped off what little money the economy has generated, kept the population uneducated and basically used them as their personal slaves. Please keep them in your prayers...
Look forward to a bunch of news opinion pieces during the next two weeks assessing President Obama's first year in office. Turns out the stimulus package was a success, so far loans have been paid beck by troubled financial institutions and the government has made $51 billion in profit. If the health care bill gets reconciled and actually helps lower insurance costs and medical costs, then Obama's approval rating will rise a lot, and he will be able to pass just about any other legislation that he wants to in the coming year. The only real albatross that he won't be able to fix in a timely fashion is the loss of jobs and lack of creation of new ones, which I have predicted will take a lot longer than his term in office to correct.
Obama's Presidency may end up being one of the most successful of all of the Presidents we have had, according to the statistic wonks that keep track of these things. Poor George Bush may well end up as being one of the worst, and nothing that Liz Cheney says, trying to shove her point of view down our throats, can change it. The Republican Party will continue its slide into oblivion because they really can't get themselves out of the right wing rut they are in. Meanwhile, the conservatives who aren't right wingers will form some other political party. It won't be either the Libertarians or the Tea Party, it will be more rational and balanced.
Unfortunately, Pakistan will remain one of the most dangerous countries for any Caucasian, Asian, or Muslim to travel or live in. Fortunately for them, they still have a civilian government and haven't been taken over through another military coup. Even though the discussions are loud, boisterous, and sometimes violent, they are forging their national identity through open public discourse even with the threats of terrorist bombings.
Even if Mahmoud Ahmadinejad stepped down tomorrow, there wouldn't be any radical regime change. That will come through their electoral process and will happen gradually. All that would happen immediately would be power taken away from the Revolutionary Guards, maybe the breakup of the basij organization, and the liberalizing of the press and Internet. Young people will be able to hang out at cafes again and the music scene would thrive. Once people who live outside of Iran can come back in and not be afraid to visit their families, society will become a lot happier and they can actually participate in the growth of the Middle East as a global influence.
The spotlight has been on Muslim countries like never before Bush sent us into the region. It has turned the world's focus on how each country is treating its neighbors and we are learning the nuances of the region's politics. Ironically, he Middle East is changing rapidly, drawing even the remotest Afghani villagers into the debate on how to rule their country, and tens of thousands of new computer users have taken to the Internet. There may yet be a solution negotiated between Israel and Palestine, with the big winners being Egypt, turkey, and Saudi Arabia, second tier winners being Syria and Lebanon.
Unresolved problems will shift our focus to Asia and the Pacific Rim countries, especially if China's economy can't be artificially propped up by its government and goes belly up. Then, we'll all be screwed and Russia will try to come in and substitute its influence where China's used to be, and will clash with India. who is all grown up. Oh look, it's the Great Game still being played out with slightly different principals, but with the same pawns...
Here in Colorado Springs, our local paper still will be strangely Libertarian in nature, we will support and maybe even have another tea party rally of our own. I'll take more pictures with that human and artistic eye that I have... Despite the GOP hoping for a conservative backlash this year, John Hickenlooper will win as Governor, while they pick up a Senate seat with Ms Norton. Sorry Scott, you don't really have the public charisma to win unless you adopt reasonable stances on the issues and not become influenced by our tea party ramblings. We just want our country back because there's no place like home (click), there's no place like home (click), there's no place like home Aunty Em...