Saturday, November 27, 2004

It’s Cajones and oil stupid

Outside of the United States, a place studiously ignored by the current administration as immaterial (much like their temporary verbal but continuing ideological assessment of the U.N.), there is a simple conclusion to the analysis of the second war in Iraq. The conclusion, one I believe of at least nominally balanced academics and observation, is that the primary goal of the War is the control of oil supplies by the biggest boys on the block. The argument generally goes as follows.

The first Gulf war was sequentially explained by the previous Bush administration, in the person of the President, as one dedicated to assure the supply of oil, then one aimed at jobs, then one aimed at democracy, then finally aimed at supporting an important ally (who had oil that effected directly jobs, and perhaps democracy). The final assessment is the one currently used by conservative Western historians.

At the end of the first Gulf War, as the coalition forces repaired to Kuwait, a number of American conservative analysts and politicians argued that failure to march on to Baghdad and remove S. Hussein would simply necessitate a future war to “complete the job”. The U.N. mandate however, was to remove the forces of the invading army from their illegal annexation and reinstate the Kuwaiti government that had hastily (and wisely, one should add) moved to Saudi Arabia. Fortuitously these Kuwaiti allies had long since moved most of their investments to non-oil areas and the temporary loss of that minor income did not cause any personal hardship during their self-imposed exile. At home, among ordinary (read: non-royal) Kuwaitis the hardships were significantly more economically and physically brutal.

While the United States was the nominal leader of this coalition and provided the bulk of the manpower and weaponry the legitimacy of its actions were solely as a representative of the U.N. and the internal U.S. political demands, outcry and posturing could have no legal nor credible effect upon the mandate of the U.N. resolution.
In 1992 Mr. Cheney, then the Secretary of Defense, had Mr. Wolfowitz, then his Undersecretary for Policy, supervise the creation of a memorandum containing the "definitive guidance from the Secretary of Defense" on the Pentagon’s budgetary plans for unrivaled global military dominance within a construct of bilateral and multilateral agreements. This plan included arguments against any reduction in military spending despite the collapse of the Soviet bloc; use of American military power in response to real or perceived chemical, biological or nuclear threat to the U.S., allies or friends or in immediate or perceived national interest and to discourage any other government’s competition for a supreme global military role. It became the substance of the “Defense Planning Guidance” that year.
While the document expands on public statements made by Mr. Cheney and General Powell (then Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff) it’s distribution was classified until a newspaper writer made a copy of the document public. The conclusions of the memorandum were simple; no other source of military power was to compete with American global military hegemony. The hegemony was also seen as a means to increasing democratic governments and “open market” economic systems or at least “to construct the security hedges against democratic failure in such a way that we do not . . . increase the likelihood of a democratic failure."
A revision of the document (April 1992) made the same budgetary recommendations in somewhat more diplomatic terms and encouraged less competition between allies for strategic deterrence while preserving the role of America’s primacy. Some countries seemed surprised at the original plan’s blatant US unilateralism.
The conclusions of the original draft however are the ones currently argued by the present Bush administration but, given the inclusion of the above individuals in the center of the current administration, this should come as no surprise even though the arguments (certainly in administration circulation before 1992) had not successfully made the G. H. W. Bush administration willing to march on to Baghdad.
In addition to the goals, the original memorandum offered scenarios for future conflicts based on assessment of existing circumstances. These included extension of the defense of Western Europe to the defense of Eastern Europe (necessitated by expansion of NATO with membership of post-Soviet era Warsaw Pact states) and in Panama, the Philippines, North Korea and Iraq. Despite the logic of preparing these particular scenarios (others could as logically or more logically be offered) the publication of the document stirred representatives of both parties to disavow the need for such plans, though the document still determined the budgeting priorities of the Pentagon in the immediate future.
The conclusions of the final draft assert that the military policy of United States would prevent “any hostile power from dominating a region critical to our interests." Arguing that "consolidated, non-democratic control of the resources" in any geographic region "could generate a significant threat to our security." despite the fact that democratic control of resources has seldom been a factor in the acquisition of oil (or other) resources by the United States.
[Note: In fact even the Carter administration (one conservatives regularly decry) had indicated protecting such resources as “national interests” was a primary military requirement. To be more than bluntly honest the pattern extends easily back to World War II and the US embargo on oil to supply the Japanese Pacific expansion well prior to Pearl Harbor. Of course it also applies to Wilson’s lost post-WW I goals as Europe quietly divided up the remains of the Ottoman Empire –and its oil- in the Middle East.]
To state “In the Middle East and Persian Gulf, we seek to foster regional stability, deter aggression against our friends and interests in the region, protect U.S. nationals and property, and safeguard our access to international air and seaways and to the region's oil.” Indicates exactly what factors Mr. Cheney and Wolfowitz see as most important to the hegemony to of the United States.
In the years following the first Iraq war some of these American conservative politicians, pundits and publishers formed a number of organizations to continue to re-argue not just the putative goal of the war but also the necessity of a restructured Defense Policy and American Foreign Policy for the Middle East. While it is not alone in such consideration the “Project for a New American Century” (officially formed in 1997) is foremost in this analysis due in no small part to its members both on and off the website masthead.

Those members include:

Chairman and co-founder
William Kristol is editor of The Weekly Standard, as well as chairman and co-founder of the Project for the New American Century. Before starting the Weekly Standard in 1995, Mr. Kristol led the Project for the Republican Future, where he helped shape the strategy that produced the 1994 Republican congressional victory. Prior to that, Mr. Kristol served as chief of staff to Vice President Dan Quayle during the first Bush Administration. From 1985 to 1988, he served as chief of staff and counselor to Secretary of Education William Bennett.

Robert Kagan is co-founder with William Kristol of the Project for the New American Century. He is a senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, a contributing editor at the Weekly Standard, a columnist for the Washington Post, and the author of the best-selling book Of Paradise and Power: America and Europe in the New World Order.
From 1985-1988, Mr. Kagan was Deputy for Policy in the State Department's Bureau of Inter-American Affairs. From 1984-1985, he was a member of the State Department's Policy Planning Staff and principal speechwriter to Secretary of State George P. Schultz. In 1983, he served as foreign policy advisor to Congressman Jack Kemp and as Special Assistant to the Deputy Director of the United States Information Agency. In 1981, he was Assistant Editor at the Public Interest.

More importantly the primary members whose names are no longer listed on the home page, but whose commentaries remain as part of the site literature include:

The current President of the United States, George W. Bush.
The current Vice President, Richard Cheney.
The current Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld.
The current Deputy Secretary of Defense, Paul Wolfowitz.
The former Chairman of the Defense Policy Board, Richard Perle.
The current Undersecretary of Defense for Policy, Douglas Feith.
The current Florida Governor, Jeb Bush.
Reagan-era White House adviser Elliott Abrahms.
Current member of the Defense Policy Board and the Committee for the Liberation of Iraq, Eliot Cohen.
Forbes Magazine publisher, Steve Forbes.
Author of “The End of History”, Francis Fukuyama.
Founder, the Center for Security Policy, Frank Gaffney.
The former Secretary of Education under President Reagan, William J. Bennett.
The current Ambassador to Afghanistan and past Envoy to Iraq, Zalmay Khalilzad.
The current chief of staff for the Vice President, I. Lewis Libby.
Co-founder of the Committee on the Present Danger, now at the Hudson Institute, Norman Podhoretz .
The former Vice President under the senior Mr. George H. W. Bush, Dan Quayle.

A reading of the memoranda, papers, reproduced or referenced periodical publications on the Project’s web pages indicates that the participants are more in agreement with the initial draft of the Cheney/Wolfowitz document than with the softened later versions.

The primary focus of most articles seems to be on a shared perception of a lack of boldness on the part of all Democratic politicians, Republicans who agreed with Democrats and the need for absolute strength on the part of the U.S. at all levels of every global political debate. In this regard the arguments parallel the most conservative columnists and authors who ascribe the terms weak or even traitorous to all Democratic efforts that don’t measure up to some imaginary level of Republican, or more accurately conservative, heroism.

Fortunately for them, most of these PNAC members fall into the category of absolute non-combatants having followed less violent paths to their current occupations, omitting opportunities for whole chapters of actual military heroism in their CVs. While it is an established principle that the military of the U.S. is subordinate to the elected Executive of the U.S. the experience of military membership has been voluntary since its inception initially because of need and finally either because of failures in conscription or failures in truly democratic management of the system. Arguments to the contrary are disingenuous.

I would suggest at least a brief (and hope for an extended) perusal of the earlier of the PNAC documents to establish your own frame of reference. That the pre-war military budget of the current Administration was exactly what the PNAC suggested is most telling of its influence on the Administration.

As to the war, I believe the Administration dabbled in the black arts of intelligence gathering without sufficient experience at filtering the chaff from the wheat. Spying is an art as well as a science. Politicians, being only human (or nearly so), love to hear what they want to hear, but placing purchased intelligence above the value of human life is generally foolhardy.

This Administration, composed of oilmen and reassured by oil-lobbyists, measure American interests in barrels because that is how they have been taught (some through economic successes) that our economy survives. The fact that existing oil resources will not only last longer but also become less expensive if the U.S. elects to spread its dependence over several resources, escapes their understanding. Still, the only security arrangements made for the post war period and the focus for immediate post-war rebuilding were for oil related facilities despite international academic and humanitarian appeals and offers of assistance in other areas. I suggest that failures such as those revolving about destroyed museums, archeological sites, emptied munitions repositories and hospitals will continue to surface as long as some reporter feels morally compelled to do his job.

The psychology of feeling that they were right and had been ignored ten years earlier was too much of an opportunity for egos ripe with electoral, legislative, judicial and Afghani success. Conjured intelligence constructed to connect invisible dots between 9-11 and S. Hussein became the first of many selling points that ignored that the very same hubris of a previous Reagan-Bush generation had assisted in consolidating S. Hussein as the well armed monster he became. The only sure reason this Bush administration could argue that such weapons existed in Iraq would be that some appointees still have the receipts from the previous Reagan and Bush administrations’ sales to Baghdad.

As long as the U.S. and the rest of the world perceives oil as the single most important factor in successful economies they will also perceive oil as the most important security issue. As long as politicians behave as though their politics and policies are somehow surrogates of their national Cajones they will too quickly place those who actually do the fighting and dying in harm’s way. The result of this ignorance is adequately displayed to the world but is either in short supply within the United States or not a matter of disagreement.

Having watched the U.S. bite off more than it can digest the world will wait to see if they can somehow spit out the excess without admitting poor manners. The real question for the U.S. and the world remains, how one can encourage a rational analysis that would preclude another such gorging. The weak criteria rationalizing this war could as well (or better) apply to a quarter of the members of the U.N. and in the ensuing absence of attention other problems (confirmed with better intelligence) persist and grow.

The U.S. has however accomplished the goals of the early Defense Planning Guidance and the Project for the New American Century. A military force has been committed to the Middle Eastern region, permanent bases are now under construction there, the flow of oil is controlled by a provisionally friendly local government, the local representation of the UN and NGOs are in decline and the Iraqi people are so happy to be liberated they’ve established a routine of rather deadly daily fireworks which seem to be aimed more at Iraqis than Occupation Forces. If the renewed domino theory of these conservatives proves true the United States will have only to wait for the toppling of other Middle Eastern regimes. How better to measure the success of a pudding than in the tasting?

Sunday, October 10, 2004

Psycho-social economic history.

While I was teaching a few years ago I frequently teased every class of my students that I wasn’t just teaching just Political Science or just History as these academic perspectives necessarily entail much more than a sequence of facts or observations. In fact I didn’t expect any of them to become either Political Scientists or Historians, but rather expected them to learn how to learn about politics and history and everything else. Instead, I argued, it is important to analyze a broader range of human activity in order to introduce perspective and relationship to the simple accumulation of raw data.

To this end I spent a day or two explaining the concept of critical thinking and research and invited the university’s specialists in writing and research to address each class. Every week for the balance of the semester every student turned in a three page analysis of a periodical article that involved increasingly thoughtful observations about the topic, the author, counter arguments -when the student was successful- and sometimes simply personal fault-finding when the student was not.

The brevity of a semester and the variety of students taking most elective courses made it unlikely that the influence of the assignments generated lasting effect among more than a few, but the interest generated within the class outweighed those who didn’t want weekly writing assignments.

With one of my characteristically odd attempts at humor I referred to my brand of study involving everything you could manage to learn and relate to the topic as Psycho-social economic history. On occasion I extended the hyphenation to include such other areas of study as might have been discussed (philosophy, the military, anthropology, language, sports, art, etc.) and making a generally hyphenated mess of the English language I have yet to master.

The result, though humorous, was accurate. Life is not about single academic areas of study and expertise; it is about the incredibly complex inter-relationships of all areas of human behavior.

It seems that American current global political analysis has resulted in not only simplify what is going on to sound and video bites which condense global news and issues into a segment of entertainment perhaps 15 minutes in length (I’ve removed the advertising and local news and sport from an hour broadcast), but has also abridged the data into single threads scarcely reminiscent of the whole cloth.

The current American political campaigns present this “reductio ad absurbum” to the point of hearing the evening’s news persons argue the weight of each candidate’s inaccuracies rather than measure the urgency, history and necessity of consequential global and national issues ignored in order to generate the sound and image bites that have supplanted critical thinking.
Post Script: Of course, given that the most popular American television broadcasts seem to be reality shows that are nothing like reality and the least popular are serious and insightful “talking heads”, perhaps I am just too far from the reality of America today. As I consider the iconic instruction on an American hairdryer indicating it should not be used in a shower perhaps I should reconsider my own critical thinking about America’s levels of education and sophistication.

Thursday, September 16, 2004

Terrorism’s “War”

By general definition modern terrorism is a behavior designed to intimidate, usually civilians –not the military- and usually by an organization of other civilians or, in the case of “state sponsored terrorism”, such intimidation by a state. If the behavior were against a military by a military it would simply be labeled some kind of war. The terrorist’s reward for violent intimidation is complex certainly, but increased visibility is likely more important than actual agendas of change.

Change will always transpire at some measurable pace, but making a good argument visible may shorten the route. If you wish to consider this further think about the American civil rights movement, or the suffragettes movement, the anti-slavery movement, the Irish republican movements, the labor movements, etc.

This distinction regarding the intimidation of relative innocents (membership in the terrorized group certainly seems informal) is important because it is similar to the definition one uses when discussing criminal behavior. The criminal’s behavior is also designed to intimidate citizens for personal rewards of some variety (monetary or psycho-social) and organized crime is certainly terroristic in its behavior as well.

The current war on terrorism, ordained by Presidential order with nominal Congressional advice and consent (rather than declared by Congressional vote), creates and encourages a curious and inaccurate perception. It obscures the parallels between terrorism and criminality while generating mostly non-existent parallels with conventional warfare. This however is the pattern and enforcement methodology that has been selected.

In only one area does this war reference meet with the needs of the terrorist and the civilian. I believe it leads to the inarticulate propaganda of an inhuman “them” versus a very human “us”. As time goes on “them” is replaced with euphemisms denying any humanity at all and allowing the killing of such non-humans with emotional detachment. It doesn’t seem to matter whether “them” is the terrorist or the civilian, “them” are unworthy of inclusion in humanity and their dispatch is inconsequential to any moral considerations. Such dehumanization is convenient shorthand for stirring the emotions, if not the intellect, of supporters. It is a regrettable staple of human political behavior that one would hope to have seen shrivel by the 21st. century.

So what are the arguments, which our current terrorists wish to make more visible? If one relies on Western politicians or pundits for the answer it must be related to some “hatred of our freedoms”, certainly a curious conclusion designed more for sound bites and elections than serious analysis.

If we look to Western and Middle Eastern academics for analysis it is significantly more enlightening as “what went wrong” in the Middle East has generated an endless number of books directed at precisely that question. Many of these books were published in the last century and really haven’t changed significantly in focus, but have in corroborating detail.

If one relies on the terrorists, or their fellow Islamists (via web site or print), one returns to the galvanizing sound bite and an occasional litany of only partially argued complaints about the West’s influence in the region.

It is worth considering the second and third offerings for analysis, the first having been regrettably covered in its previous paragraph.

Islam offers its believers a unified approach to individual behavior, which requires submission (the translation of the word Islam) to the prescriptions of Islamic belief in all human endeavors including not only religion but also politics and economics.

It is especially important to note here that this unified approach to human organization is not solely a tenant of Islam, but has been essential in the initial teachings of other religions, most notably for our considerations early Christianity.

Over their histories religions frequently seem to change with (the needs/demands of) their times, adjusting to reflect newer philosophies, pre-existing indigenous beliefs or even changes in technologies. Individuals who wish for a return to the initial teachings are referred to as fundamentalists, regardless of their religion. In one of the great ironies of our times the conservative fundamentalists currently so well represented in Washington share their religious conservatism with their current nemesis in al Qaeda. Politics does indeed make for strange bedfellows.

In the artificial divisions and amalgamations of territories and tribes following the First World War and the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire one can argue that decisions were made for the convenience of Western perceptions rather than Eastern realities. The selection of leaders was based on the assessment of existing tribal authorities which would best accommodate Western plans of governance. As this reorganization of a nearly seven-century old empire took place in a matter of a few years, some mistakes were to be made however, the goal –accessible oil from accessible governments- was accomplished.

The success of the Ottoman Empire owed to the inclusion of Islam in the governance of acquired territories. Briefly, in newly added lands intelligent young men were removed to Istanbul for religious and practical training. Following their conversions these men were returned to their homelands as multi-lingual governors and other functionaries. They were local people, spoke the local language and dialect, understood local custom, were Muslim and represented the Empire. Organizationally it seems to have worked well and the function of the Muslim factor (allowing for indigenous variations) shouldn’t be overlooked nor underestimated.

I believe that the Islamic terrorists are reasserting part of the argument of the Empire. That surrender to Islam is essential to the religious, political and economic health of the region and any pattern of outside influence upon the region is perceived as destructive to Islam and the opportunity for regional human dignity. It is not a difficult conclusion to make, but the methods of expression have become inhuman.

When the first President Bush attempted to explain his concern over the invasion of Kuwait by Iraq he first said it was a matter of oil. After the reactionary response of the press and his fellow Americans his next sound bite indicated it was really about jobs. This was hardly a stretch from oil and only slightly less inciting. In the final analysis he concluded that a valuable ally had been invaded and that a democratic government (he could only have been referring to a council disbanded in the 14th. century) would be reestablished by force of arms. Most of the West, agreeing with the economic need for oil, assisted in the First Gulf War.

The history of oil is inseparable from the politics of the Middle East and global development since the end of the 19th century. The current hydrocarbon based economies of the industrial world are dependant upon continued supplies of this declining commodity. Only one scientist of note thinks the earth is continuing to create additional oil, the rest think discovery has peaked.

To maintain the flow of oil the West has micro managed the politics of the Middle East without noticeable regard for anything other than continued oil production. As beneficiaries of this flow Western economies have grown faster than the economies dependant upon extraction and sale of such natural resources. This pattern is not just applicable to oil resources, but to all extraction of natural resources. Verifiably the West has used political intrigue, assassination, bribery (via butter, bullets, power and money), theft, world wars, regional wars, and now a totally preemptive war to accomplish this task.

In the Middle East the significant beneficiaries of these policies are relatively few in number. They are frequently just extended families and their friends and cronies. They are militaries and their officers. Significant contributions of the trickle down theory of economic expansion are unsupported by local practice. Beneficiaries are seldom clerics, the poor or the un- or under-educated. Some of this has caused tension in the region and a noticeable lack of good will toward the West. As the primary oil consumer as well as the author of these perceived injustices in the Middle East the US ranks as the number one offender on a list that includes US friends and allies –local and regional.

The pattern of Western involvement in the affairs of oil is repeated wherever oil or other resources are found. (See also histories of Indonesia, Africa, Asia and their constituent countries.)

Before one capitulates to total Western responsibility for these atrocities it is important to note that this pattern is one of human behavior. Local behavior has generally been no better in acquiescing to the demands of the West. While this does not condone the excesses, it does indicate that human history is full of invasions in which indigenous peoples and animals are treated exactly as are natural resources and are enslaved or eliminated for more productive users and uses. The shame is of an unchanged mankind.

The membership of al Qaeda could voice these indignities in unending detail but have chosen to move beyond that to violence. In their home countries many have been arrested, tortured, executed or expelled. They have also been given funding out of some combination of guilt or agreement. Obviously this is not because their arguments fell on deaf ears, but because they would upset the status quo. This has not improved their attitude nor changed their minds.

Their “war” is nominally against those who do not wish to return to Islam, as they perceive it to have been before the corrupting influences of the West. Their war is against a future in which they remain marginalized, despite their truthful arguments, despite the unequal distribution of opportunity and economy. Their dispossession has caused them to internalize the message of Islam; surrender to beliefs which will reunite their countries to past glories. They wish to right “what went wrong”.

Or, for a while, they wished to right it, -past tense. Now the plan is to outrage the public of the West with the audacity of having been attacked at home; to generate in the West the individual fears they felt in their homelands; to despoil the economies which have despoiled their economies; to reduce the individual freedoms in the West which they have already lost in the Middle East and which deny each individual’s surrender to Islam.

This is a frightening amalgam of economic and religious angers that will likely play well if sufficient evidence is provided. Regrettably the invasion of Iraq, for absolutely any Western rationale, plays directly into the hands of Islamist recruitment. I believe we have already lost the first battle of the 21st. century’s Long War.

Please note: I have omitted discussion of Israel’s intensifying role, and Western support for Israel, in the above terrorist equation. I plan to address these in future postings.

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Political Analysis

I have spent some time considering how political systems generally behave in the process of addressing problems. The most recent stimulus for this thought was, of course, the attacks of September 11, 2001. A more recent stimulus has been the report of the Commission investigating the Terrorist Attacks of September 11th.

In the first instance it was quite normal to seek to find the authors of the atrocity and attempt to respond in kind. Relatively quickly the conclusion of al Qaeda’s responsibility was determined (they had made the earlier, less successful, attempt) and the engine of military response moved forward.

In the latter instance the Chairman and Vice-Chairman of the Committee and a smattering of politicians of both parties began to urge the adoption of the full recommendations of the Committee report or assorted parts of those recommendations almost 3 years after the events of 9-11. Eventually others of the political, pundit and ex-intelligence community, drew up plans for change from their various perceptions of the intelligence organizations and the report’s conclusions.

I find several things are most curious about all of this activity. In all of the publications since the attack I have seen perhaps only a handful of analyses (in print or interview) of how we came to be at this particular focus in the world history of hate. Similarly the wait for the Committees analysis, delayed by temporarily ill-considered Presidential privilege, objection and/or obstruction and further interrupted by assorted legal hairsplitting, (all of the type conservatives usually refer to as liberal excess) has obscured the necessity for organizational change and improved inter-agency intelligence communications beginning back on the 12th of September, 2001.

If we consider the first analysis, something like “why us?” we have to become rather dispassionate historians, an unlikely occurrence. If we consider the second, belated, analysis we must consider not only how to better organize, but whether the response of the Homeland Security Act helped anything other than to reduce constitutional protections of person and assembly or hindered anything other than the same. The almost comical results to date of the government’s policing and legal teams will give law faculties lecture materials for generations.

The fact that the Act was not specifically prepared as a response to the terrorism of 9-11, but was more an existing wish list of conservative reaction to those perceived liberal legal excesses should be worrying. It was a truth and fear I had commented on to friends within a few days of the atrocity and well before I knew anything about the Act. To compound the curiosities of politics the President was, at least initially, against the passage of the Act. He has subsequently come to embrace it more than wholeheartedly, his Justice Dept. generating, at his request, some of the most thought provoking legal nonsense in decades and extending his authorities well beyond constitutional prohibitions. Perhaps Shakespeare was correct about lawyers.

Thursday, September 02, 2004

An compassionate observation

It appears as though the Democratic party is about to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. Again. Not because a vast majority of American voters believe nor agree with the reactionary political offering of the few extreme right wingers who are currently pulling the strings of authority, but rather because the liberals have permitted the conservatives to define the current vocabulary of political discourse without challenge.

I hadn’t thought enough about how carefully liberal folks tend to try not to offend in their heartfelt penchant for political correctness. Distancing themselves even from the few liberals who are willing to respond to fiery far right conservatives in kind. But the truth is that liberals believe that intelligent people will come to similar conclusions given the proper presentation of facts and a minimum of emotion. Conservatives have long ago concluded, in acceptable minority political fashion, that it is generally easier to stir emotion into doubt or fear than to explain what is going on. American history is full of examples as are the histories of all political systems.

If Democrats wish to remove the current resident from the White House they might begin by simply pointing out that no one feels a need to insert the word “compassionate” in front of the word liberal, (but pointing out the redundancy would not be very PC). To the conservative, long seen as the more formal, if not colder, philosophy it is a self-admission of a lack of feeling for ones fellow man. Yes that would definitely be a good place to start.

If that bit of subtle name-calling were to stir the liberal blood, they might move on to actually defining the term “liberal” in a suitably accurate fashion. *I would suggest a definition in terms indicating those values of the liberal arts and sciences –rather than the servile or mechanical behaviors. Perhaps generous or openhearted are better words, rather than merely free spending and in favor of big government. The latter words now more accurately defining conservative rather than liberal political behavior.

Liberals shouldn’t neglect to point out that for the few Federal positions eliminated by budget cuts in the last twenty some years State positions have increased at a greater rate of corresponding necessity. For every reduction in regulation there have been significant increases in the very abuses which initially generated the calls for regulation. It is foolish to think that capitalism, merely an economic system, will generate a social conscience unless it will generate additional profits. It is the very reason universities of economics continue to teach Marx as well as Smith. And, as I shall discuss in future postings, it is part of the critical analyses of religious systems, which feel they offer social, political, economic and spiritual guidance in a single package. Their religious critique of what capitalism has accomplished and provided is quite sharply perceived and carefully measured.

In Bulgaria, as the Iron Curtain was being dismantled and communism forsaken for the oligarchy it had created (rather than the workers’ paradise it had promised) the Communist Party virtually changed its name to the Socialist Party and got popularly, and democratically (re-) elected. Perhaps they could have simply become compassionate communists and accomplished the same ends.

*Many thanks to the OED.

Friday, August 20, 2004

18 08 2004

In the following entries I will frequently use the terms conservative and liberal and enter them in the lower case as I have done here. The reasoning behind this convention is one related to my philosophical perception of such behaviours as not being related solely to a single political party, nor to a single political ideology. Thus one can find Republicans exhibiting what may be called liberal perception on a given topic and Democrats with conservative perceptions.

Use of these terms with upper case first-letters usually indicates the status of a proper noun, an individual object, a status with which I disagree. While there are certainly conservative and liberal ideologues I wonder if there is a real group of Conservatives or Liberals within a single party. It seems as unlikely as all Republilcans being solely republican in their nature, but never democratic, and Democrats being solely democratic, etc.

I will also begin each entry with the date that I first began to consider the subject which follows. As this information will come from my notebooks it will certainly disagree with the dates provided by the blog site itself, which will merely represent when I found the time to place the thoughts on screen for perusal.

Friday, July 30, 2004

I am fortunate in having time to watch and consider what is going on around me.  Retired from the wars (hot, cold, lukewarm, foreign, domestic, real and imaginary) I am, as most of us are, isolated from direct involvement in the larger portion of it all, but I make notes, edit them savagely, rewrite them, anguish over word selection and generally behave as though there is likely a good idea or observation here and there.  Obviously my ego is in servicable condition. A few friends agree politely or, just as politely, indicate they've thought about it too and have come to quite different conclusions.

Herewith observations on entropy and just that.