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Barack H. Obama’s Legacy, Part 10

ObamaLegacyPart10   <– PDF

Continuing an analysis of Mr. Obama’s Middle East policy, it is obvious that he, like his predecessor Mr. Bush, failed to understand the source of “Islamic terrorism”.  Actually, it is worse than that.  At least Mr. Bush was willing to call it what it was: a certain branch of Islam that adheres to the original definition of ‘jihad’ as handed down by the Prophet Mohammed and his immediate successors.  That is, anyone who is not a particular type of devout Moslem has to be killed in the service of Allah.  Mr. Obama, sympathetic to Islam, and also convinced that America is first and foremost an oppressor and exploiter nation, declined to admit that the problem was even related to the Islamic religion.  Instead, he and the members of his administration referred to the work of al Qaeda and ISIS using euphemisms such as ‘workplace violence’, ‘personal issues’, ‘hate crimes’, or whatever he could get the compliant media to repeat.  He went so far at one point to deny that ISIS (which established an Islamic Caliphate) was even Islamic.

The incorrect policy pursued by Mr. Obama, imitating somewhat the policy of Mr. Bush, was to enlist the Arab nations in a coalition against the terrorist group. As expected, none of them did much.  The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is not part of the solution to Islamic based terrorism. Saudi Arabia is the problem with Islamic terrorism.  The Saudi royal family maintains it power by allowing the Wahhabi sect of Sunni Islam to control the subjects by a religious secret police that also controls the legal system and the education system.  (The Wahhabi’s prefer to be called Salafi.) The Saudi royal family supports and defends the Wahhabi sect as the de facto national religion and in return the Wahhabi’s educate the subjects that they are obligated to support the House of Saud.

The Wahhabi sect is the one branch of Islamic “theology” that has revived the original definition of ‘jihad’ as a viable political and religious system, hence the cause by Al Qaeda, ISIS, and many other like groups to enforce their objectives: a) kill as many Jewish people as possible; b) force the U. S. and other Western nations out of Middle Eastern affairs; c) establish a Caliphate to emulate the grand position once held by the early successors of the Prophet Mohammed (they had conquered vast tracts of the Middle East, Northern Africa, and Spain); and d) use the power of the Caliphate to kill anyone who embraced any other system of faith, starting with Christians. To do that, it is necessary for them to gain control of the Middle East using the terror methods to intimidate the Arab dictatorships, whom they accuse of being too closely aligned with the evil West.  It is notable that they have never attempted any terrorist activity inside Saudi Arabia: it is too soon to attack their current protectors.  The Saudi royal family claimed to be opposed to ISIS, but they never put a division in the field or a squadron in the air against them.

Mr. Obama’s policy of tilting toward Iran as an American favorite was poorly received in Saudi Arabia, as Islamic Republic of Iran and Saudi Arabia regard each other as mortal enemies.  But the capitulation to Iran’s demands did not deter Mr. Obama from continuing to advocate for weapons sales to Saudi Arabia, as well as confirmations of security agreements made in the past.  Why did he do that?  Because ISIS had gotten stronger in late 2013 and early 2014, and started making noises that they might like to attack Saudi Arabia and remove the royal family.  The House of Saud realized there was no prospect of an alliance with ISIS so they turned to the U. S. for protection, and Mr. Obama came through.  He then began to attack ISIS positions and towns controlled by ISIS, and with it the inevitable collateral damage in the form of civilian casualties.  Those casualties only served ISIS’ propaganda methods, by which they induced more young impressionable idiots to join with them and fight against America, the great Christian evil.

In the end, Mr. Obama he affirmed that the Saudi policy of supporting Wahhabism has no opponents in his administration. On the other hand, his support for Iran and his reluctance to attack Syrian President Assad made the Saudi regime uneasy.  In other words, Mr. Obama acted against a traditional ally’s interests, while ingratiating himself with Iran, Saudi’s greatest enemy.  He dug himself deeper into the moral and political cesspool known as the Middle East, reducing the U. S. to a position of being hated as either an infidel or an unreliable enemy.  Meanwhile, Wahhabism continues to be endorsed by the Saudi regime.

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Barack H. Obama’s Legacy, Part 9

–>  ObamaLegacyPart9

Mr. Obama’s policy in the Middle East was confused as usual.  To be fair to Mr. Obama, he did inherit a difficult situation left by his predecessor President George W. Bush.  Mr. Bush’s great failure was the invasion of Iraq in 2003; that in turn was caused by his failure to understand either the cultural or religious history of the Middle East.  Mr. Bush learned from his father President George H. W. Bush the idiotic foreign policy of President Woodrow Wilson, in which America’s job is allegedly to make the world “safe for democracy”, or some other equally inane phrase.  Mr. Wilson was divorced from reality, and those who follow his general foreign policy prescription demonstrate the same.  Mr. Bush actually believed, or told us he believed, that the U. S. military would be greeted as liberators if it removed Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein from power.

Here is how the Arab Middle East actually works. It is possible for an Arab who is not a Moslem to live peacefully and function in a normal society.  It is possible for a Moslem who is not an Arab to live peacefully and function in a normal society.  There is something about the Arab culture and the Moslem religion that in combination causes people who are both to turn into raving retards fit only for the desert wastelands.  A person who is both Arab and Moslem is incapable of living in peace in any society, not even his own; and his main function even within his own society is to kill anyone not of his tribe, or Moslem sect, or family.  The duration of feuds between Arab factions is measured in millennia.   That is why the best that can be achieved in a nation populated by Arab Moslems is that it be ruled with an iron fist by a secular dictator (or absolute monarch).  Such a government is the only way a nation full of Arab Moslems can prevent widespread chaos, destruction, and murder.  Therefore, Mr. Saddam Hussein was the best that could be hoped for in a place like Iraq: at least he suppressed all the crazies that were crazier then him.  History showed after he was gone that about half the population was in fact crazier then he was. Mr. Bush never did learn that lesson; what is sadder is that Mr. Obama never learned it either, even with Mr. Bush’s failure staring him in the face.  To be fair to Mr. Bush, Iraq was sufficiently pacified when he left office, although requiring a U. S. military force of considerable size.

Rather than make the best of a bad situation, Mr. Obama, in his “leading with his behind” approach, decided to withdraw the U. S. military forces from Iraq in the belief that they were capable of rational self-government.  The result was a series of civil wars, culminating in the establishment of ISIS in Eastern Syria and Western Iraq.  That in turn re-ignited the war, which is still going now.  He also decided to remove  Muammar Mohammed Abu Minyar Ghaddafi, dictator of Libya, and allow him to be replaced by a set of warring factions, all of whom proved themselves crazier than Mr. Ghaddafi.  Likewise. Mr. Obama’s policy in Syria showed the same confused approach.  At first, he wisely failed to support the Syrian rebels.  But then he turned against President Bashar al-Assad because Assad (supposedly) used chemical weapons against his enemies after Mr. Obama promised a “red-line” response if he did.  Assad crossed the line, and nothing happened.  After ISIS got rolling, and the Syrian rebels promised to fight them, Mr. Obama provided some nominal support, and some of those Syrian rebels joined up with ISIS.  All this dithering around in Syria served only to increase the power and influence of the Russians there.

An Arab dictator used chemical weapons against his own people? What else is new?  Arab history continues as it always has and always will.  Al-Assad is the best that the Syrian people can achieve.  But Mr. Obama never gave any support to the Kurds in the northern part of Iraq; the only force willing to actually defeat ISIS.  Mr. Obama apparently was afraid to anger the pathetic excuse of a government in Iraq, which even now, cannot keep peace inside its own borders.  The Iraqi government is concerned that a suitably strong Kurdish faction may seek independence from Iraq.  The Kurds are not Arabs, so an independent nation of Moslem Kurds could in fact function as a normal nation.

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Barack H. Obama’s Legacy, Part 8

ObamaLegacyPart8  <– PDF

President Donald Trump recently confirmed that Iran was in compliance with the so-called “Iran Deal”, signed by President Obama on 14 Jul 2015.  The “Iran Deal” is officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), and is in fact a blueprint for Iran to do whatever it wants.  It was an agreement reached between Iran and a mix of interested nations: the U. S., U. K., France, Germany, the European Union, China, and Russia.

The terms of the agreement were:

  1. Iran’s stockpile of enriched uranium is to be reduced from 10000 kg to 300 kg, with a maximum enrichment limited to 3.67%, and held at that level for 15 years.
  2. Iran’s only enrichment facility is to be located at Natanz; the number of centrifuges there is limited to 5000.
  3. The enrichment facility at Fordow is to be converted into a nuclear research facility.
  4. The number of centrifuges at Fordow is reduced to 1000; the remaining 13000 are to be used only as spares.
  5. Iran can conduct research and development of centrifuges by a separate agreement.
  6. The heavy water facility at Arak is to be converted such that no weapons-grade plutonium is produced as a by-product.
  7. Iran is prohibited form reprocessing spent nuclear fuel; it is to be exported (presumably to Russia).
  8. Iran agreed to monitoring by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
  9. The U. S. is to release $ 100 B in assets frozen after the 1979 Revolution.
  10. The U. S. and European Union are to lift most embargoes and economic sanctions on Iran.

The U. S. immediately released the assets and lifted the embargo.  But there a few peculiarities about this agreement.  First, Barack Obama appears to be the only one who signed it; Iran’s president Hassan Rouhani did not sign it, nor was it ratified by either Iran’s Parliament or the U. S. Senate. Iran has no legal obligations under the agreement.  Secondly, Iran has a veto on what personnel can visit which Iranian sites, and even if allowed, can delay it for 24 days.  No Americans are allowed in the IAEA delegations.  Third, Iran immediately disputed the interpretations (22 Jul 2015), claiming that there were no limitations on weapons, and Iran retained the right to import and export weapons as it saw fit.  It has continued to trade in weapons.  On Oct 2016, Iran’s Atomic Energy Agency leader Ali Akbar Salehi claimed that Iran’s nuclear program is intact.  Fourth, there is no viable means of monitoring whether or not Iran is complying, so, in the absence of contrary proof, President Trump probably had no choice but to re-certify it.

Meanwhile, trade between Iran and Germany, China, France and Russia has greatly expanded, including military aircraft, nuclear reactors, and anti-aircraft weapons.  Also, Iran continues to fund terrorist groups throughout the Middle East in its quest to dominate the region, including support for the Houthi rebels in Yemen, as well as their traditional proxies in Palestine (Hezbollah and Hamas).

Once again, we see the triumph of politics over reality as practiced by Mr. Obama. He got a political paper with nice-sounding words which in the end will promote and confirm Iran’s capacity to produce the nuclear arsenal it needs to threaten Israel and Saudi Arabia.

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Barack H. Obama’s Legacy, Part 5

ObamaLegacyPart5 <– PDF

In closing out Mr. Obama’s domestic agenda, we come to the state of the national debt. The national debt had been growing for many years, but it reached and surpassed a critical point during Mr. Obama’s tenure.  It is true that President’s are not directly responsible for the nation’s debt (because only Congress can authorize a budget), but Presidents can use their influence to restrain the worst instincts of Congress.  Mr. Obama did nothing but encourage Congress’ reckless spending.  Figure 1 shows the nation’s GDP, total national debt, and ratio of GDP to debt for the years 1929 to 2016 in current-year dollars.  The ratio of GDP to debt is an important indicator of the nation’s liabilities compared to its total economic activity; higher is better.  These figures are not exactly in alignment, since the debt figures are for fiscal years, and the GDP values are for calendar years.  The general trend is accurate.

Figure 1: GDP, National Debt, and GDP-to-Debt Ratio, 1929 – 2016

Figure 2 shows the ratio of debt to GDP for the same interval. When Hoover entered office in 1929, the nation’s finances were in excellent shape, as the GDP-to-debt ratio was over six.  Then came the Great Depression, which nitwit Hoover made worse with his bad policies.  The GDP-to-debt declined drastically in the early 1930’s.  It was left to the even bigger nitwit Roosevelt to extend the depression to 1940 with his even worse policies, although the GDP-to-debt remained fairly static around 2.5 from 1934 to 1940.    It was not until Hitler rescued Roosevelt by starting World War II that the American economy came back to life.  The downside in financial terms is that the expansion of production was paid for by adding it onto the debt.. The GDP to debt ratio reached its all-time low in 1946 (0.82), just after the enormous debts accumulated during World War II.  From the Truman to Nixon administrations, the debt increased, but GDP increased faster, and the GDP to debt ratio steadily improved, reaching 3.16 in 1974.  It remained fairly steady until the halfway through Reagan’s first term; it then began a long slow protracted decline until halfway through the Clinton administration.  It improved a bit from there until about 2007, the second-last year of Bush Jr. administration, and then resumed its steady decline until sinking below 1.0 in 2014.  It is interesting to observe that one can draw a straight line from 1994 to 2011 and end up in the same place. It has continued a slight decline since 2014.

Many economists consider a GDP-to-debt ratio to be an accurate indicator of high risk. It is comparable to a household with debt equal to an entire year’s income.  In the long run, it is unsustainable.

So the U. S. financial condition is now about where it was in 1947.  But there is a big difference between the federal government obligations in 1947, wherein it began a long period of improvement, and now.  In 1947, there was no Medicare, no Medicaid, no Obamacare with its subsidies, no extensive social spending, no pervasive meddling bureaucracy to be paid, and Social Security was only a small item in the budget.  Mr. Obama was content to let the financial condition deteriorate without making some sort of attempt to get back on a sound financial footing.  We can only hope that Mr. Trump will not make the same mistake.

Figure 2: GDP-to-Debt Ratio, 1929-2016

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