McChrystal, You’re Fired

President Barack Obama rebuked his Afghanistan war commander for “poor judgment” Tuesday and considered whether to fire him in the most extraordinary airing of military-civilian tensions since Harry Truman stripped Gen. Douglas MacArthur of his command a half century ago.

The White House summoned Gen. Stanley McChrystal to Washington to explain disparaging comments about his commander in chief and Obama’s top aides. The meeting set for Wednesday was a last-ditch moment for the general once considered the war’s brightest hope.

So McChrystal is being sacked for… being honest? No, he is being sacked for being disrespectful.

For example, the skilled French soccer striker Anelka was sent home from the World Cup after he got into an argument with his manager. NFL players are often benched by their coaches if they become a nuisance, in public or in the locker room.

In fact, I’d even venture a guess that McChrystal might have been under the influence of a certain substance when he made those remarks; he was being interviewed by Rolling Stone, after all. He had to have known the shitstorm he’d stir up as soon as he said those things. No military official in their right minds would be so offensive to top government officials like that.

Despite the perceived sadness and disappointment of some to see McChrystal go, it is mildly amusing that we bear witness to another figure whom we thought would bring hope and success to the government’s policies become a disappointment.  Not long ago, this happened with President Obama’s economic team, namely Tim Geithner and Larry Summers (and even Ben Bernanke); critics of the administration have called for them to resign, citing competence or other more biased reasons.  Yet, we never saw Geithner or Summers come out and criticize the President like McChrystal did, even if they believed, for example, that the bailout was not big enough.

That being said, if McChrystal is a good military commander, he should be given a second chance.  Perhaps he should not be taking high profile positions such as that of commander for the war in Afghanistan, but he remains a useful resource for the military.


Drill or no drill.

On the surface, it kind of makes sense.  But when you think about it, the ramifications of another rig exploding is too serious, hence the moratorium.  What do you think the backlash would be if the White House allows drilling again and there is another spill? The administration would get nothing done, other than PR damage control and containing the disaster.

Afghanistan’s minerals: no we can’t?

Kind of follows my previous post.  This piece provides more insight and better estimates as to what the discovery of vast sums of minerals in Afghanistan means.I tend to agree with McNeil’s comparison of Afghanistan to Congo: “[…] both are rugged and remote, far from coastlines and with few roads or railroads, making it hard to get minerals out and policing forces in.”  It is especially unsettling seeing as Congo has been the site of one of the most brutal civil war conflicts in human history.

The main point that McNeil wanted to get across in the first half of the article is that when natural resources are discovered in less-developed countries, imperial powers come in and exploit them.  But there comes a point when the cost of extracting those materials outweigh the profit from exploiting them, and Afghanistan might prove to be the case.

One of the most compelling estimates from this article is that it would take 5 to 15 years to go from where most of Afghanistan is now to an operating mine (costing anywhere from hundreds to billions of dollars), and another 5 to 15 years for the investment to turn a profit.  This means about 30 years worth of dangerous work put into a country ripe with violence, corruption, and ready to collapse at any moment.

Finally, the article mentions China’s ability to exploit materials that Western nations cannot because of its state-driven policies.  China already has heavy investment and influence in numerous African countries, and has brought with it its atrocious human rights reputation.  The thought of China surpassing the Western nations in its quest to become the world’s dominant power (arguably it already has) by doing what the Western nations did for hundreds of years (from the 15th to 19th centuries) makes me cringe.

So if even China thinks it’s too risky to invest in Afghanistan, then perhaps no one can, for now.

A break for Afghanistan?

Depending on your perspective, this might actually be a good thing…

Yes, from just one report, Afghanistan went from a place where just about nobody cares to mineral heaven. This of course means that countries in the West will undoubtedly try to take advantage of these materials. It’s what the West does, and has be…en doing it for a very long time. The most salient current example is probably the oil in Iraq, and that American companies like Haliburton are trying to make profit off of Iraq’s oil.

While it is obvious that no one likes to see their own country’s natural resources being exploited by foreigners, in the Afghans’ case, this might not be the worst idea, seeing as most parts of the county doesn’t even have roads. According to the article, companies that are eager to exploit the minerals would have to invest billions of dollars to basically build an infrastructure from scratch, everything from mines to roads (possibly railways). This could potentially mean jobs, and a way for Afghans to finally end their dependence on poppy farming.

It is certainly not the best approach to nation-building, and certainly contains an air of colonialism, but it might be the fastest way for Afghanistan to develop itself as a country.

I suspect that Secretary Gates and General Petreus would welcome this news, as recently they were being grilled on Capitol Hill by legislators who have grown impatient with the lack of progress in Afghanistan. The discovery of minerals perhaps would give the Pentagon, as well as the White House, a new cause to stay in the country.

On a side note, the article mentioned two mining / mining assessing companies situated in Canada (one in Toronto, one in Vancouver). It seems like our involvement with Afghanistan lies beyond our government policies. Perhaps it is not a bad thing.

The Dems speak out on the War… not really.

This isn’t really the Democrats challenging Pentagon on the war in Afghanistan. This is more like the Democrats whining and asking why they have to keep supporting a war they despise, other than obvious political ramifications if opposed.

The entire American foreign policies institution, whether it be the State Department, Defense, the White House, or the Senate, were slapped in the face months ago when Hamid Karzai was ‘elected’ as President, in an election that was almost certain to be fraudulent. America’s credibility in the international community regarded Afghanistan lived and died with Karzai, and with this election, the US has demonstrated its pathetic inability to really change the region.

Arisona’s Next Immigration Target: Children of Illegals

Arizona’s Next Immigration Target: Children of Illegals

Jan Brewer and Russell Pearce are crazy. They are nuts. They are irrational ideologues who, driven by demented xenophobia, are using what political powers they have to deny rights to American citizens.

As a result of the American Civil War, in July 9, 1868, the 14th Amendment was adopted to the United States Constitution. The first section states that:

“All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of live, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”

This amendment provides a broad definition of citizenship, and overrules the decision in Dred Scott v. Sandford (1859), which held that blacks could not be citizens of the United States.

For this particular post, the key point to be taken from the above statement is that ANY person born in the United States is naturally an American.

Some Republicans in Arizona are trying to change this fact.

As you can see from TIME’s article, Russell Pearce, the architect of the bill passed several months ago which would permit random inquiries into a person’s citizenship status in the state of Arizona, is now planning to introduce a bill that will deny citizenship to children born in the United States with illegal immigrant children.

Not only do I think this is unconstitutional, it is also a sign of the establishment trying to prevent change, and to confront a world in which their kind (Conservative, white) is increasingly becoming the minority, with hostility.

The article says that 58% of Americans polled by Rasmussen think illegal immigrants whose children are born in the United States should not receive citizenship. One has to wonder how this polling process functioned, and should ask this question: were the people polled aware of the fact that the 14th Amendment specifically states that anyone born in the United States is by definition an American citizen?

A large percentage of (perhaps even majority) Americans still have, in broad terms, conservative-leaning views, whether it be social, political, or fiscal issues. Because of this, Americans are often reluctant to make drastic changes towards its foundational values (as we recently witnessed in the brutal battle for a slightly better, but in no way good enough, health care system). I’m sure that if those polled were all aware of the existence of the 14th Amendment, many of them would change their minds and allow children to become Americans.

But of course, this issue regarding citizenship is just the latest installment of a long, tedious immigration debate. Inevitably, discussion regarding illegal immigration usually reverts back to the question of ‘why are they (Mexicans) coming here in the first place?’ Part of, but not all, of that blame goes to poor governance on the part of the Mexicans. American multinational corporations have long used Mexico for cheap labor, which severely undermines the spending capacities of Mexicans.

It’s time for both the United States and Mexico to find a solution to this immigration issue by building an honest, efficient economy, on both sides of the border.