Sunday, March 28, 2010

Still pro-torture

Senator Kit Bond

Unfortunately, despite the brave stance taken by Senator John McCain, himself a victim of torture, many top Republicans are still in favor of torturing suspected (and/or potential) terrorists. The Wall Street Journal reported in its March 20-21 issue that Senator Kit Bond, the leading Republican on the Senate Intelligence Committee is regularly complaining that the CIA won't be able to get the information in needs from suspects with only the nineteen acceptable military intelligence interrogation techniques.

Obviously, Senator Bond has never been tortured. Anyone who has experienced extensive sleep deprivation especially accompanied by loud music or other piercing noises knows that it can be extremely physically painful and produce near insanity like effects. Just the fact that piercing is an acceptable synonym for loud in this context speaks volumes about the pain inflicted. Torture with the repeated application of icy cold water (even if it is not used to simulate drowning) can be just as bad.

Friday, March 26, 2010

How is it going in Afghanistan?

Loyal readers know the Clarion Content has long doubted that there is a cohesive center that can be held together in Afghanistan. We recently read long time American power advocate Robert Kaplan in the Atlantic arguing the opposite case. He is all for lots of troops for the occupation of Afghanistan and America hanging in for the long haul.

Not everyone has Kaplan's perspective. Although the source is undoubtedly biased, as all sources are, one has to wonder how well things are going with the latest United States led actions in Afghanistan. The Israeli based Debka file, who some see as ostensibly aligned with Kaplan, both have been labeled neo-cons, reports, "The United States-British-Afghan force out to capture the Helmand provincial town of Marjah is still wide of the mark. Its control does not extend much beyond the municipal center and main police stations even though the Taliban has not gone all out to resist the allied advance, saving its strength...Among the surprises the allied force encountered were unarmed Taliban fighters queuing up with Afghan civilians to collect US hand-outs for damage, and Afghan soldiers fighting well in a scrap but relapsing into looting and dope in between battles."

The Clarion Content doubts that there is a clear enemy to defeat. The enemies of the United States way of thought extend throughout the population of Afghanistan, this is not a culture with a tradition of democracy or feminism to use but two examples. The enemies of the United States military include many who have no ideology other than they lost their loved ones to the oh so callously labeled collateral damage. What would be considering winning? The Clarion Content does not see that America somehow won in Iraq, leveling the country at a cost of trillions to its own and the world economy, while participating in the killing of upwards of 100,000 Iraqi citizen, losing the lives of 4,000 of America's own military personnel, only to install a different government that has not shown it can keep the peace without becoming autocratic. What win? Is this the scenario Kaplan and General McChrystal hope the United States can replicate in Afghanistan?

Monday, March 15, 2010

Wealth Concentration

One reads all the time that the rich are getting richer, that the gap between the rich and the poor, the haves and the have nots, is widening. Few things bring this disturbing trend home like the Forbes annual survey of the richest people in the world.

One of the nuggets gleaned from Forbes self-congratulatory report on the world's richest people is that the last year has seen billionaires total wealth skyrocket. The combined wealth of today’s 1,011 global billionaires is estimated by Forbes at $3.6 trillion, a 50% increase over the $2.4 trillion in billionaire wealth calculated last year. Our quotes Forbes glowing assessment of this situation, "Last year's wealth wasteland has become a billionaire bonanza. Most of the richest people on the planet have seen their fortunes soar in the past year." As Out notes, based on the latest available United Nations data (2000) the world's billionaires, some 1,000 people have more money than the collective wealth of the world’s poorest 1.5 billion adults. America leads the way with 403 billionaires. The U.S. commands 38% of the collective $3.6 trillion net worth of the world's richest people.


And frankly unsustainable. There is no long term way that such a situation holds, the salient question is going to be will the transition be smooth or revolutionary.