Jon Spencer wrote:

> I have come to the conclusion that Marc was cheated by the Pakistani owner
> of a convenience store in his neck of the woods!  :-)  Marc, while I agree
> that Pakistan is not the country to model our society after and that there
> are many distinct factions operating within the government, often at odds
> with each other, do you believe that there are any other bad guys out there
> (other than Bush, I mean :-).
>

Sure, and I don't mean to pick on Pakistan. My point was to show what I felt was
hypocrisy on the part of US foreign policy (such as there ever is a consensus on
such a matter); for every reason they stated to invade Iraq, I felt the same
reason applied in spades to Pakistan. Naturally I don't want anyone invading
Pakistan. I would rather you keep your weapons of mass destruction at home.

> If we limited out allies to only those who were just like us, we would have
> very few allies indeed.  We partnered with Stalin in WWII because (being
> VERY generous) we felt that to do otherwise would seriously hamper our war
> efforts.  Having someone as a temporary ally does not mean that you condone
> their behavior.  Rather it means that you are usually between a rock and a
> hard place, and you may want to deny your adversary that country as his
> ally.
>

The partnership with Stalin is one thing, but there is a formalized system of
military alliances in place now. You may have heard of it: NATO. I think that's
what's usually meant by "our Allies" the way Bush uses the term (although I'm sure
he'd add in countries like Australia and Japan). The problem is the natural
expectation that the EU, Turkey, Canada, Japan and Australia (plus a few others)
would automatically be expected to see US foreign policy as *our* foreign policy,
and it just ain't so. The world's not that simple. We get spoofed a lot for our
small armed forces (although mind you, we keep kickin' butt at the annual Top Gun
fighter games, and at least we don't kill our allies in Afghanistan...) but this
is one situation where you can't just apply the 1:10 rule that often applies. That
is, we have one tenth the population, so when comparing stats, you can usually be
safe by dividing US stats by 10, or conversely multiplying Canadian stats by 10,
for a comparison. And this works in many comparisons. But it doesn't work in
military forces because we're not a superpower and don't consider ourselves
morally obliged to intervene unilaterally in other peoples' affairs (almost all
our military efforts have been dedicated to providing UN peacekeeping forces and
NORAD).

Which reminds me. I'm bcc'ing a fellow I know on LDS-Poll (I'm no longer there
because I went through a particularly severe dip in my health that I'm only now
starting to come out of, so cut back on my Internet activity) who criticized
Canada for not keeping up to its NORAD commitment. He was referring to the
proposed continental missile shield. And this illustrates my point precisely: the
missile shield is *proposed*, it is not yet NORAD policy, but many USAmericans
naturally assume we'll agree to anything they propose. From what reading I've
done, the Brits used to have this problem, and the French before them, and the
Romans, and so on and so on: a very self-centred view of the world. Now every
nation ought to operate from its own best interests, and if we had the economy,
population and military might of the US, we'd almost certainly act in the very
same way, and the quasi-imperium Pax Americana is a lot more benign than its
predecessors. But it is still a quasi-imperialist point of view by its very
nature.

>
> I would hazard to guess that we both believe that you prioritize your
> problems and work from the top down.  Perhaps it is the case that you have a
> different prioritized list than do I.  However, I think that Afghanistan and
> Iraq and North Korea are higher on the list than is Pakistan, which, by the
> way, is pretty high up on my list.
>

The problem is that the list is forever changing, and by assigning national names
like "Afghanistan" we fool ourselves. This is not about a clash of nation states,
something which isn't part of the Middle Eastern self-image, or Weltanschauung,
either, for that matter (outwards-looking view on the world). When I would travel
to the Middle East and would ask a member of the elite (like the business people
and educated people that I dealt with) what their nationality was, they'd say
"Egyptian," "Libyan," "Lebanese" etc. But when I asked the guy who shined my shoes
what his nationality was, he'd say "Arab."

Until we realize that the nation state is a product of the industrial revolution,
drawing lines on maps and artificially carving out nation states in a
pre-industrial region (by and large) will just cause problems. Every imperial
power that has intervened in the region has come away chastened, and the USA (with
its allies) will be no different. You think WTC was bad? Just wait....[sorry to be
a Cassandra, but I'm very pessimistic about this]

>
> And then, of course, you bring up a very interesting Libertarian argument
> about free markets and opium (note I didn't say you put it forward).  I
> honestly would be very interested in your elaborating on this topic.
>

Oh, it was just a throwaway comment. If there's a demand for something, someone,
somewhere, somehow, will provide a supply. You can fight it and "just say no". I'd
rather see the government get out of the way, and allow society to solve what is
after all a social problem (drug abuse). Our "war on drugs" has much in common
with our "war on terrorism".

>
> Jon
>
> Marc A. Schindler wrote:
>
> I don't think it matters (to me, anyway) whether it was deliberate or not.
> The
> people in central and SW Afghanistan in particular have little choice, as
> there is
> no economic alternative for them. One could just as easily say this is the
> "free
> market" at work without the help of the CIA. I *do* believe, however, that
> the ISI
> (Pakistan's counterpart) was behind it for reasons of their own.
>

--
Marc A. Schindler
Spruce Grove, Alberta, Canada -- Gateway to the Boreal Parkland

“Man will occasionally stumble over the truth, but most of the time he will pick
himself up and continue on” – Winston Churchill

Note: This communication represents the informal personal views of the author
solely; its contents do not necessarily reflect those of the author’s employer,
nor those of any organization with which the author may be associated.

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