Monday, March 21, 2011

Liberating Libya The Tattooed Lady.. Rise of Africom

Paul Krugman
Stephen Stromberg
Niall Ferguson
"Everyone knew that the real purpose of the attack on Ms. Warren was to ensure that neither she nor anyone with similar views ends up actually protecting consumers." - Paul Krugman
"Obama, a novice in foreign affairs, is a president without a strategy." - Niall Ferguson

I had a filling fall out of one of my molars, and I've been whacked out on extra painkillers over the weekend. I thought about posting, but couldn't gather enough energy or coherent thoughts as I sat in front of the computer. Thankfully, I don't belong to any gambling sites... I have been wanting to write about Elizabeth Warren and her Congressional hearings last week. She is probably the only person involved in the government who is an honest person, and she has been tapped to run the newly formed consumer credit protection agency. Paul Krugman does a great job on those hearings and the mean-spirited, self-serving attacks on her by the conservatives members of the House Financial Committee: "The fact that she’s so well qualified is, of course, the reason she’s being attacked so fiercely. Nothing could be worse, from the point of view of bankers and the politicians who serve them, than to have consumers protected by someone who knows what she’s doing and has the personal credibility to stand up to pressure.

The interesting question now is whether the Obama administration will see the war on Elizabeth Warren for what it is: a second chance to change public perceptions."

When our financial system had crashed and burned, taking almost every country in the Western banking system along with it, many fingers were pointed to how the regulators ignored doing their jobs, while the legislatures were busy trying to rescind all previous rules, for a true "free" market economy. No rules, we can police ourselves ... suckers. Now, those who were at fault are trying to rewrite history, trying to get you to believe that the reason everything crashed was because of too much government interference, neatly weaving the lie into the fabric of populist tea party beliefs.

When the UN and Hillary Clinton announced that they had approved a "no fly-over" zone for Libya, how many people believed that it involved using a few planes? Hold up your hands... How many believed that France was chomping at the bit to be released to send ships and planes so they could be the first to liberate Libya? (sounds like a Groucho Marx song, we're going to liberate Libya, the tattooed lady...) As the members of the Arabian league are complaining hey, wait, that's not what we meant, the press focuses on Barack Obama wanting to know what his plans have been all along...

The Arab League: “What is happening in Libya differs from the aim of imposing a no-fly zone, and what we want is the protection of civilians and not the bombardment of more civilians.”

The French reacted by using 20 planes and a nuclear powered aircraft carrier armed with cruise missiles to create a safe haven for the city of Bengazi, where the rebels had been centered and were about to be wiped out by Qaddafi's mercenaries. I'm still waiting for the US to send in some of their mercenaries to fight against the Libyan mercenaries, then it would better resemble war as we know it - on a video game.

Ironically, the structure of the military command who's jurisdiction Libya falls under is pretty brand spanking new, and totally untested. As the NY tines describes it: "When the United States Africa Command was created four years ago, it was the military’s first “smart power” command. It has no assigned troops, no headquarters in Africa itself, and one of its two top deputies is a seasoned American diplomat.

Indeed, the command, known as Africom, is designed largely to train and assist the armed forces of 53 African nations and to work with the State Department and other American agencies to strengthen social, political and economic programs in the region including improving H.I.V. awareness in African militaries and removing land mines.

Now the young, untested command and its new boss, Gen. Carter F. Ham, find themselves at their headquarters in Stuttgart, Germany, setting aside public diplomacy talks and other civilian-military duties to lead the initial phase of a complex, multinational shooting war with Libya." You already can see the difference it has made by how stable Africa has become in the last four years, yep, I know I feel better and can sleep at night. Yeah, my new painkillers work too well... Let's ask them how many land mines have been removed in four years, comparable to the amount left in Vietnam and Cambodia that still are active and blow off the limbs of unsuspecting farmers? Somehow, I don't think these guys have done much besides sit on their hands for four years and collect their paycheck, but maybe it's because I'm very grumpy today.

Were the French right to jump the gun, and go off before the declarations had been signed by the security council? Were they trying to apologize for their past sins when they were trying to create a French Empire, or are they hoping to gain a more favorable rating among their Arab trading partners? After all, the money they were hoping to get from future nuclear reactor contracts may dry up soon, and they need to be #1 in the hearts of Middle Easterners everywhere, not the stodgy old British or impetuous americans who can't keep their hands and feet out of the cookie jar that is war... or they can't stop themselves from gorging on that delicious camel's milk chocolate, sold at upscale stores near you... Anyway, Qaddafi feels downright comfortable in his bomb-proof bunker, after all, he got the plans from Saddam...

Hillary Clinton is happy that Obama is listening to her more and taking her advice, even if he seems like an unlikely hawk... but Obama has always been ambivalent towards being Commander in Chief, and is where his inexperience shows the most. Hillary is known to be a war-hawk, almost as much as John McCain is, except he has seen war up close. Hillary tends to imagine scenes and place herself in a more central role than she actually had, like at the airport in Kosovo... Ronald Reagan was infamous for doing this, and it would have been cute behavior from a senile old man, except he was President of the United States at the time...

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