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Posts Tagged ‘Decline

Zogby- Politics and Nonsense on Egypt

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The narcissism of both the US and Israel has never been more complete or more anti-democratic.  Everything has got to be all-about-us, all the time.

When the Dust Settles, US Policies Will Remain the Same

By JAMES ZOGBY Counterpunch Feb 11, 2011

When US politicians are forced to discuss critical Middle East matters, more often than not their remarks either display an ignorance of facts, are shaped more by political needs than reality, or are just plain dumb. Commentary about the popular revolt in Egypt provides a case in point.

There was no doubt that the events in Cairo were momentous and, therefore, deserving of response. In the case of most US political leaders, however, struggling to come up with the right TV sound bite didn’t require actually knowing anything about Egypt. All that was needed was to frame the issue through either the prism of partisanship or that of unbending loyalty to Israel. The result was a string of comments, some bizarre, others dangerous.

The new chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Republican Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, for example, cornered the market on incoherence and contradiction when she observed that “Mr Mubarak should… immediately schedule legitimate, democratic, internationally recognised elections,” adding however that “the US should learn from past mistakes and support a process which includes candidates who meet basic standards for leaders of responsible nations — candidates who have publicly renounced terrorism, uphold the rule of law, [and] recognise Egypt’s… peace agreement with the Jewish state of Israel.”

In other words, Ros-Lehtinen supports a democracy where we (not they) set up the criteria. Not quite “respect for the will of the people,” but still better than former Republican speaker of the House Newt Gingrich’s partisan tirade.

Gingrich, who is reported to be considering a presidential run, is shallow and remarkably uninformed about most Middle East issues. He gets by largely because he sounds so authoritative and always has a clever quip or two. In Gingrich’s assessment of the current situation, “there’s a real possibility in a few weeks… that Egypt will join Iran, and join Lebanon, and join Gaza, and join the things that are happening that are extraordinarily dangerous to us.”

Having thus displayed almost no understanding of the Middle East, Gingrich goes on to ridicule US President Barack Obama’s “naiveté”, charging that Obama “went to Cairo and gave his famous speech in which he explained that we should all be friends together because we’re all the same… and there are no differences between us. Well, I think there are a lot of differences between the Muslim Brotherhood and the rest of us.”

Gingrich’s parting shot was to state that the US administration “doesn’t have a clue”. Then, in order to demonstrate that he does, Gingrich offered this “advice” to Obama: “study Reagan and Carter and do what Reagan did and avoid what Carter did.”

If the need to take a partisan shot is central to some, more important for others, both Democrats and Republicans, is the need to make this all about Israel. Presidential aspirant and former governor Mike Huckabee, for example, used the occasion of the Egyptian uprising to make his 15th trip to Israel where he lamented that “the Israelis feel alone… and they cannot depend upon the United States, because they just don’t have confidence that the US will stand with them.”

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Complexity, Inflexibility and Collapse

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By Clay Shirky excerpted from his post: The Collapse of Complex Business Models

In 1988, Joseph Tainter wrote a chilling book called The Collapse of Complex Societies. Tainter looked at several societies that gradually arrived at a level of remarkable sophistication then suddenly collapsed: the Romans, the Lowlands Maya, the inhabitants of Chaco canyon. Every one of those groups had rich traditions, complex social structures, advanced technology, but despite their sophistication, they collapsed, impoverishing and scattering their citizens and leaving little but future archeological sites as evidence of previous greatness. Tainter asked himself whether there was some explanation common to these sudden dissolutions.

The answer he arrived at was that they hadn’t collapsed despite their cultural sophistication, they’d collapsed because of it. Subject to violent compression, Tainter’s story goes like this: a group of people, through a combination of social organization and environmental luck, finds itself with a surplus of resources. Managing this surplus makes society more complex—agriculture rewards mathematical skill, granaries require new forms of construction, and so on.

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If “decline and fall” is the subject du jour…

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The counterpoint of these two articles which came my way today (synergistically?) will probably keep me speculating for awhile:

Moon Over Gringo Gulch By Joe Bageant

Even were it possible, resurrecting the government of FDR would make for a crowded political stage. We already have two independent governments operating separately — the Republican Party and the Democratic Party. Unfortunately they operate in opposition. ..

This kind of politics benefits both the politician and the public. The public can avoid thinking about real issues, big picture items they can count on the politicians never to address, but move their lips as if they are: America’s descent from empire, global warming and peak everything

Compensation & The Social Network by CulturalEngineer

…It’s been said that the problem in a democracy is that the rulers (being the people) will rob the public treasury by voting themselves all the money!

This may well be true… But if that’s the case…

And considering what’s become of our once healthy financial balance (you actually have to go back to the ’70’s to find when we were a creditor and not a debtor nation)…

And where all the wealth ended up…

You have to ask… Just who is really in charge around here?

Written by laudyms

March 6, 2010 at 9:49 am

End of Empire – Propaganda and the American Myth

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“It’s shocking to realize how seldom we change our basic beliefs or understanding when confronted with new information that normally would affect change. Instead, we bend or ignore facts to fit our established world view. John Maynard Keynes once said “When the facts change, I change my opinion. What do you do, sir?” Sadly most people don’t subscribe to this logical practice. Instead, conformation bias and denial are the tools we use to manage and manipulate information to our liking. And there are plenty of governmental, corporate and private citizens ready to help us accomplish this through deliberate and targeted propaganda. The most common personal warning sign that this is happening is the pain of cognitive dissonance, which is usually set off when new information is in conflict with long established and dearly held views.

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