Political Science’s “Theory of Everything”
DAVID CHIBO • NOVEMBER 30, 2016
The 7 “Blind” men and the US Elephant
He defines the third corporate lobby as the Big Oil-transport-military complex, which he explains has put the US on the trajectory of heavy oil-imports dependence and ever deepening military entrapment in the Middle East: “Since the days of John D. Rockefeller and the Standard Oil Trust a century ago, Big Oil has loomed large in American politics and foreign policy. Big Oil teamed up with the automobile industry to steer America away from mass transit and toward gas-guzzling vehicles driving on a nationally financed highway system. Big Oil has consistently and successfully fought the intrusion of competition from non-oil energy sources, including nuclear, wind, and solar power.”
Sachs also highlights Big Oil’s counter-intuitive reliance on the Pentagon: “America defends the sea-lanes to the Persian Gulf, in effect ensuring a $100 billion–plus annual subsidy for a fuel that is otherwise dangerous for national security. And Big Oil has played a notorious role in the fight to keep climate change off the U.S. agenda. ExxonMobil, Koch Industries, and others in the sector have underwritten a generation of antiscientific propaganda to confuse the American people.”
The fourth of the great industry-government tie-ups has been the health care industry, America’s single largest industry today, absorbing no less than 17 percent of GDP. According to Sachs, what began as government partnering with business to refund costs has morphed into a lobby with little systematic oversight and control: “Pharmaceutical firms set sky-high prices protected by patent rights; Medicare, Medicaid, and private insurers reimburse doctors and hospitals on a cost-plus basis; and the American Medical Association restricts the supply of new doctors through the control of placements at American medical schools. The result of this pseudo–market system is sky-high costs, large profits for the private health care sector, and no political will to reform.”
Trump’s other option is to try easing Middle East conflicts rather than escalating them. This can only be done through cooperation with Iran. A map of the region shows why. Iran is the big country in the middle. Just as Europe became stable only after Germany was invited to be a security partner, the Middle East will become stable only when Iran’s interests are taken into account.
Rather than side instinctively with Saudi Arabia in its rivalry with Iran, Trump should seek to balance the two. We should judge them not by sentiment, but strictly according to whether their actions promote our interests. Our central interest in the Middle East is containing violent radicalism. After that, our next goal should be withdrawal. The reasons we set up imperial shop in the Middle East have evaporated. The Soviet Union is gone, we no longer depend on Persian Gulf oil, and our people are tired of desert wars. Yet some are pushing Trump to jump more deeply into this quagmire.
Trump Loves to Do It, But American Generals Have Forgotten How
By Andrew J. Bacevich
Why Everything You’ve Read About Syria and Iraq Could be Wrong
PATRICK COCKBURN • DECEMBER 2, 2016
These are the two groups that dominate the armed opposition in Syria as a whole. In Aleppo, though only about 20 per cent of the 10,000 fighters are Nusra, it is they – along with their allies in Ahrar al-Sham – who are leading the resistance.
Unsurprisingly, foreign journalists covering developments in east Aleppo and rebel-held areas of Syria overwhelmingly do so from Lebanon or Turkey. A number of intrepid correspondents who tried to do eyewitness reporting from rebel-held areas swiftly found themselves tipped into the boots of cars or otherwise incarcerated.
Experience shows that foreign reporters are quite right not to trust their lives even to the most moderate of the armed opposition inside Syria. But, strangely enough, the same media organisations continue to put their trust in the veracity of information coming out of areas under the control of these same potential kidnappers and hostage takers. They would probably defend themselves by saying they rely on non-partisan activists, but all the evidence is that these can only operate in east Aleppo under license from the al-Qaeda-type groups.
Thomas Friedman is a horrible writer. His thoughts are unintelligible. He thinks what he writes is original – recognizing something others don’t – and therefore informative and that it will have positive consequences. It is meaningless drivel. A complete waste of time. I love to read Friedman to confirm that I am right about him. It makes me feel better about myself. I feel I understand how the world works and the meaning of life when I read Thomas Friedman. I think I read a couple chapters of ‘The Lexus and the Olive Tree.’ It is a point of pride that I cannot remember anything about it. He is the most highly overpaid asshole on the planet. I secretly wish he would visit Syria and maybe be abducted by ISIS.
“For me, that translates into building healthy communities that are flexible enough to move with these accelerations, draw energy from them — but also provide a platform of dynamic stability for citizens within them. More on that another day.”
Hilarious. What the fuck does that even mean? Does he even know? He’s completely crazy.