THE ECONTRARIAN

A tad askew from the traditional view

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Look Ma, Georgie's the Only One in Step

It's strange how separate events sometimes come together to reveal a trend, troubling or otherwise. Recently, I was reading about something called Pan-Islamism, a religious-political movement of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries which was an attempt to revive the religious principle of the unity of all Moslims in opposition to the expansion of Western imperialism. In the end, Pan-Islamism failed to realize its objective. It did not bring about any permanent unity of the followers of Mohamed, and conflicting nationalisms continued to divide the Islamic world. However, as I read the article, I couldn't help but think that the policies of the administration in Washington, in just four years - especially the invasion of Iraq - have probably done more to further the unification of the Islamic world, then the decades of previous historical efforts by the Moslims themselves.

Then I read in the paper that Russia and China have signed a declaration demanding respect for the rights of all countries to pursue their development free of outside interference, a thinly veiled attack on what they perceive to be a U.S. effort to dominate the world. I was reminded of President Nixon's brilliant strategy, over three decades ago, to drive a wedge between Russia and China which successfully caused those two countries to become long term rivals, and which provided significant economic, political and military benefits to the United States. Now, with the signing of what the Russians and Chinese call their Declaration on World Order in the 21st Century, it seems that the previous rivalry is suddenly becoming uncomfortably friendly. For the first time, the two countries are planning to hold joint military maneuvers and - perhaps most significantly - they are entering into economic agreements. Trade between Russia and China jumped by one third last year and has continued to expand rapidly this year, according to Vladimir Putin.

Now in the wake of hurricane Katrina and the prospect of further damage from other extreme weather-related phenomena, many in the European community are directing additional anger toward the Bush Administration for its unilateral move in abandoning America's participation in the Kyoto Accord, a treaty originally entered into by President Clinton, and one that involves most all the other major countries, including England and Russia. The purpose of the Kyoto Accord is to reduce the emission of so-called greenhouse gasses that are contributing to global warming which in turn may be causing the severe climate changes that have been noted around the world. In connection with our recent storms, the LA Times reported that "hurricanes cannot form unless the ocean is at least 80 degrees Fahrenheit for at least 150 feet below the surface. Otherwise, water does not evaporate from the surface rapidly enough to sustain the huge energy required for a hurricane. The higher the temperature, the more water vapor and heat energy are released into the air, fueling the storm." This strongly suggests that our recent violent weather patterns are related to higher than normal water temperatures in and around the Gulf of Mexico, consistent with the effects of global warming. Meanwhile, the position of the Bush Administration is that our participation in the Kyoto Accord would be bad for big business.

And finally, to the south, many eyes in Central and South America are closely following the brouhaha now taking place between the United States and Venezuela. What they are seeing is that with every misguided criticism issued by the Bush Administration, the Venezuelan leader's popularity soars ever higher on the wings of Anti-American sentiment.

There have been times in the past when we have felt proud to be Americans, especially when travelling to other historically friendly countries. The Kennedy and Reagan years come to mind, in particular. Clearly, however, this in not one of those times.............

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