Why hate the Koch brothers?

The Koch brothers are the devil incarnate to many progressives.

But do you actually know their positions on immigration, prison reform, drug legalization, police violence, war in the Mideast, and urban education?

These two podcasts are from the Freakonomics Radio Show. Live interviews with Charles Koch.

I guarantee they will surprise you….

NATO Expands…Again

 

Great.
Just great.

We continue to gobble up former East Bloc nations; incorporating them into NATO.

Montenegro (with the double-eagle flag) is as of yesterday the newest member of the Western military alliance which was formed after World War 2 to contain the expansionist Soviet Union.

Used to be part of Stalinist/Communist Yugoslavia under strongman ruler Tito.

Go back to the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. Before that, Western Europe was protected by NATO and the Americans, and Eastern Europe was occupied by the Soviet Union and organized into the Warsaw Pact. These two forces faced off along what Churchill called “The Iron Curtain.”

When Germany was reunified, we promised Russia that in return for their allowing the new Germany (both East and West) to be a part of NATO, we would not expand the alliance to former Warsaw Pact nations, because that would remove the buffer on which Russia relies, geopolitically, for security. Unlike the US, they don’t have oceans on both sides and have been brutally invaded twice (Napoleon and Hitler) costing millions of Russian lives.

Well, we lied.

Now virtually all the former communist nations (Russia’s buffer states) have come into the American military orbit.

So foolish.

Russia and the US could be the best of allies. We both want the same things:

-To curtail Islamic extremism.

-To explore space together (we are the “space superpowers”)

-To keep our vast nuclear arsenals from getting into the wrong hands.

-For free trade giving us access to each other’s resources.

For whatever reason, insecure nations (like the US) don’t seem to be able to function without an enemy. A bogeyman.

And for that matter, NATO is clearly obsolete. Since about 1990 when the Soviet Union (the whole point of NATO) disintegrated.

“But we need NATO to fight terror together.”

Nope. Our mutual NATO interventionism in the Middle East has given us ZERO results in several decades of military meddling. In fact, you can make an argument that 9-11 would never had happened without the NATO led crusade to topple Saddam Hussein, which ticked off many Saudis, who manned the planes which destroyed the world trade center.

NATO is just an excuse for our military industrial complex to sell more weapons to more countries–and make the world less safe by doing so.

And, the scary thing is that the mission statement of NATO is “An attack on one member is an attack on all.” Are you really wiling to commit our nation to war over….Montenegro….or Latvia?

 

Get US Out of the Middle East

Do no harm.

A good guideline when you are thinking about intervening in the affairs of another country.

The truth is, there is a gigantic civil war going on in the Middle East, engulfing many nations.

Basically, it’s between Sunni and Shiite Muslims, although it seems none of our leaders see it this way. Islam split into Sunni and Shiite factions soon after Mohammed’s death, mostly because of the death of Ali. You can look that up on your own.

Many hotter fighting areas…

-Yemen

-Syria

-Internal Iraq violence

…can be framed in these “greater regional civil war” terms.

So who are these groups?

SHIITES: Led by Iran, Shiites make up a majority of the population in Iraq, Yemen, Hisbollah, and have a hold on power in Syria (whose leaders are backed by Russia).

SUNNIS: Let by Saudi Arabia, this gang includes ISIS, the wealthy smaller Gulf States, most Palestinians, Al Qaeda, and large minorities in Yemen and Iraq.

This fight has been going on for almost 1,400 (!) years. We Americans aren’t aware of it, don’t understand it, and our current foreign policy (since Bush II) has been to fight against both (!) sides.

Basically our bogeymen are ISIS/Al Qaeda (Sunnis) and Iran (Shiites). We are against both sides. Thus we blunder along, escalating and adding lethal US firepower to the centuries-old civil war by attacking both sides.

We try to get our “ally” Saudi Arabia to help us fight ISIS, which is never going to happen. Those are their brothers in faith; their allies against Iran in the big chess game for Middle East leadership. Remember, the 9/11 attackers were all Saudi Al Qaeda operatives. Saudi Arabia’s national interest is to block Iranian expansion by supporting Sunnis (wherever they are) as they fight Shiites. And we give them money and arms to do so.

In Iraq and Syria, on the other hand, we are (strangely enough) ALLIES with Iran. Iran props up the (Shiite) Iraqi government that emerged after we got rid of the Sunni leader, Saddam Hussein. ISIS (Sunnis) formed itself to push back on Shiite domination of Iraq.

I won’t even start on Syria. In order to fight ISIS there, we have to ally ourselves with….Assad and the Russians who are fighting ISIS.

As there are no good guys in this fight to be found, we continue to complicate and escalate the situation with every action we take over there. Often arming both sides.

It’s time to get out of the Middle East altogether. We can’t solve the Sunni/Shiite fight. “Do no harm” would be a better foreign policy in the region. Israel can take care of itself–no one has attacked them since 1973 (about the time they got nukes).

I love the words of Phil Robertson (Duck Dynasty) on the Middle East: “We need to get out of there–most of them are mean.”

Could not have said it better myself.