Monthly Archive for July, 2008

He’s not the messiah, just a very lucky boy

All sorts of good things have been happening in Iraq.

Just the other day, the Sunni bloc formally ended its twelve month boycott of the Maliki government and has been given 6 ministeries including the Deputy Prime Minister post. In other news, coalitions of tribes in both Anbar and Najaf have taken the decision to participate in the upcoming elections on platforms independent of the existing religious parties. These events are just two of many events indicating a realignment of forces which has been occurring over a much longer time period. Central to this has been the decision of the Sunni population to choose the rational option of working with (and seeking the protection of) the US. At the same time, the Maliki government has shown that it is prepared to stand up to the lawlessness of the Sadrist militias. Across the entire country, the Iraqi Security Forces are showing increasing capacity to maintain internal discipline, subordinate sectarian and personal interests, and operate as an arm of the State. Overall, sectarian violence has been reduced by about 80%.

So much for the idea that the situation in Iraq was one of hopeless civil war.

Confronted with the dramatic improvement in Iraq since the Surge began, Obama still maintains that he was correct to vote against it. He now says that the Surge was never necessary because the Iraqis were already on the way to reconciliation before it began! This contradicts the entire basis of his campaign against the war.

Everybody surely knows that Obama’s expressed reason for voting against the Surge was that he believed that the war was hopeless. He’s on the record all over the place as taking the position that Iraq had descended into a severe civil war and that the only chance of improving the situation was to put pressure on the Iraqis to “stand up”and “take responsibility” by withdrawing American support. According to Obama , the Surge was bound to worsen the situation. Continue reading ‘He’s not the messiah, just a very lucky boy’

New Meme from Nepalese Maoists?

“We need capitalism before socialism” says Prachanda, the head of the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist), according to a report in the The Independent .

This is one of those old Marxist ideas that must take off again if a genuine left is to re-emerge from the ether. It has to become a new meme.

What Prachanda is referring to is the fact that a system based on social ownership can only be built on the conditions created by capitalism. This means eliminating the conditions that are the basis of class society – routine labor, low levels of education, a general lack of sophistication and economic backwardness.

Look at it this way. A society based on sharing is only viable when we are generally sharing good things, in particular interesting jobs and affluence. Sharing poverty and jobs that should be done by machines is a no show. Furthermore, we need average people who can do most of the thinking and deciding, and when they cannot, are at least able to monitor and hold accountable those with special knowledge and ability.

In poor countries a major obstacle to progress is statism in its various (including “socialist”) guises which has allowed those in power to plunder the economy and to hold back the development of an entrepreneurial capitalist class. This has usually been assisted by agencies such as the World Bank [1]

Another obstacle is the pseudo left in the rich countries who do not want poor countries to become rich. That would require lots of power plants, roads, railway lines, modern housing and factories. Instead, they just want to make subsistence agriculture more viable by things like donating goats, digging wells and “fair trade”. [2] Continue reading ‘New Meme from Nepalese Maoists?’

July 4, 1968. Forty years on! (An Australian perspective)

July 4 1968 – 40 years on! (An Australian perspective)

The rebellious spirit of 1968 tends to focus on events overseas in May, such as the Paris uprising by workers and students, but Australia joined this international rebellion in July, when thousands of Australians took to the streets to protest against conscription and the war in Vietnam and in solidarity with the Vietnamese people. The demonstration on July 4, 1968, in Melbourne shook Australia with both its militancy and the large numbers in attendance. The Riot Act was read and many people arrested and beaten up by the police. The previous year, protests against the Vietnam war had consisted of small silent vigils outside the US consulate. The times were truly a-changin!

I was there, as a student in my final year of high school, in my school uniform. My father marched too, with a group called “Ex-Servicemen against the War”. I remember some had their World War Two war medals and others their Returned Services Leauge badges. Similar demonstrations, though not as violent, occurred in Sydney, Canberra, and the other capital cities. A militant national movement was born and, within it, were people talking about revolution. The Labor Party, under Whitlam, had shifted position from Calwell’s unconditional demand for a withdrawal of all our troops to one of ‘holding operations’ and peace talks. This fuelled the extra-parliamentary mood. While opponents on the Right saw communist manipulation behind the new militancy and direction, the Communist Party of Australia was frequently the target of the young rebels, as it tried to moderate and control the action from above. Continue reading ‘July 4, 1968. Forty years on! (An Australian perspective)’

Global warming roundup

I just thought I would pass on some climate change tit bits that I have come across in recent weeks. They show that controversy is alive and kicking despite claims that the debate is over.

Non-warming continues

The flat temperature trend for the last decade has become a cooling over the last year. Check out these graphs.

Over 31,000 US scientists have now signed anti-alarmist petition

The petition web site provides the names of signatories and classifies them by level and areas of training.

Bio-fuels responsible for food price hike According to the World Bank and Oxfam.

Stormy weather

Tropical cyclones have not increased in number or severity in the southern hemisphere of the last 25 years. and

Two hundred year records for Louisiana show a downward trend over the period for both tropical cyclones and hurricanes.

Greenland ice sheet not going anywhere soon

The theory that water is lubricating the base of the ice sheet is challenged by a new study.

New research suggests lower climate sensitivity to CO2

Here and here

Continue reading ‘Global warming roundup’

Iraq and oil – the good oil

Sweeping away the moribund

Tyranny, in addition to suppressing people’s freedoms, also holds back long-term economic growth and development. When tyrants are overthrown and replaced by something better, an opportunity presents itself for the unleashing of people’s creativity and for the rapid development and exploitation of natural resources as a way of improving living conditions and opening up new opportunities. We see this today, most notably, in Iraq and in Nepal.

In Iraq, the former fascistic regime engaged in devastating military adventures and a nepotistic and bureaucratic centralized control over economic life that held back production. During the decades of Ba’ath dictatorship only 17 oil fields were developed out of a potential 80 fields. Oil production, Iraq’s principal source of revenue, reached at its peak only 3.5 million bpd (barrels per day).

In Nepal, the feudal monarchical system did nothing to develop and exploit nature for the benefit of the people, yet Nepal has incredible hydro-power potential. It could provide cheap and reliable energy from this source for its own people as well as earn vast revenue through the export of power. Nepal’s hydropower potential has been estimated at 84,000 megawatts (84,000 million watts), yet only a tiny fraction has been tapped.

The overthrow of tyranny in both countries, and its replacement with constitutional democracy, is an example of how old realities give rise to new ones, when the old becomes unnecessary and irrational. Continue reading ‘Iraq and oil — the good oil’