It seems there is no end to the political hypocrisy that has taken over our well surveilled world.
I wrote a post a few days ago about the Belgian government wanting Skype to hand over confidential customer data. I called it ‘Taking A Swipe At Skype’ (if you want to read it click here )
In a previous post called, ‘What Is The German Word For Hypocrite?’ (if you want to read that one click here) I had a bit of rant against the hypocrisy of Germen Chancellor Angela Merkel who professed great anxiety publicly about the Americans snooping in on her phone calls while she and her intelligence agencies were in cahoots with the US to spy on other European countries.
Now a week or so later the two stories have merged with yet another piece of hypocrisy, this time by the Belgians who have announced that they are starting an official investigation into allegations that Belgium’s telecommunications networks were spied on by a consortium of German and American intelligence agencies.
In other words, it is okay for the Belgians to snoop on Skype users, but not okay when someone else wants to snoop on the Belgians.
If that’s not another good example of hypocrisy I don’t know what is.
Specifically the targets in Belgian sights are the United States National Security Agency and Germany’s Bundesnach-richtendienst (BND) and an operation that they referred to as ‘EIKONAL’.
The Belgians found out about the snooping when Austrian politician Peter Pilz blew his whistle at a press conference in Bern, Switzerland, saying that EIKONAL had targeted European telecommunications carriers for at least four years, from 2005 to 2008.
Spokesmen for the Belgian government have said that if the alleged espionage is confirmed, it would have “not only legal implications, but will also affect relations between Belgium, Germany and the US”. It also threatened to “take appropriate action” but didn’t specify what that would be – they probably don’t know yet.
Needless to say, the governments of Switzerland and the Netherlands were not amused by the revelations either and immediately launched their own investigations into this thing called ‘EIKONAL’.
It’s all turning into what they call “a right old mess”.
I wrote a short post the other day on the subject of failure. I think it was a success 🙂
What hasn’t been a success, however, is America’s foreign policy. I’ve also written about this many times in the past. I find it very annoying that a country as great as America and with so many brilliant people within it can neither elect a smart politician, or even a not so smart politician but one who has enough brains to hire smart advisers.
The current President, Barack Obama, has continued the trend of failure. Particularly with regard to foreign policy, at which he has not only failed but added indecision and procrastination to the mix.
The examples are many, but the latest foreign policy debacle is the leading role America has taken in the imposition of sanctions against Russia. Sanctions that may have been aimed against Russia but which are already starting to backfire against the US.
I noted in another post that sanctions have been imposed in regard to Russian oil and natural gas, which Europe (particularly Germany and France) needs, but America doesn’t; but that the sanctions were not imposed on nuclear fuels, which America does need.
Believe me, the hypocrisy of that has not been lost on the European governments or its public.
And the hypocrisy does not end there.
On the one hand there have been hyped up media statements telling everyone that Rosneft, Russia’s largest oil company, and its head Igor Sechin, have been targeted in the sanctions.
But what hasn’t been trumpeted so loudly is the fact that British oil company BP, owns almost 20% of Rosneft, and has confirmed that it would not be severing ties with the Russian firm.
Similarly, Norway’s Statoil is continuing its partnership with Rosneft to search for oil in the Norwegian section of the Barents Sea.
And France’s major oil and gas company, Total, has announced that it is seeking financing for its next gas project in – where else? – Russia. When they get that financing, amounting to something in the region of $27 billion, it will be in Roubles or maybe even Yuan, but certainly not in US dollars – again thanks to the ill thought out sanctions.
This will set a trend for similar deals that will also exclude the US dollar, inevitably lowering its standing as the world’s reserve currency. I expect more such deals to be done with the Russians by German companies in particular as the sanctions fail to bring the promised results and as a consequence start to fall apart.
But it gets worse.
Before any of the US Senators or Congressmen stand up and start to call names at the Brits or the Norwegians or the French for backtracking on sanctions, they would be better to take a look nearer home.
It now seems that American Companies are not paying attention to the sanctions either.
For example, ExxonMobil, America’s largest oil company, has continued drilling offshore in the Russian Arctic, also with Rozneft.
If the sanctions were anything more than a bit of public posturing by Obama, ExxonMobil shouldn’t (and wouldn’t) be doing any more work with the Russians in Russia. But using the excuse that it is environmentally safer to complete the well than to allow the Russians to do it alone, ExxonMobil got permission to continue.
No doubt the company will express its gratitude when the next round of electioneering fund raising comes along! (Gosh, I’m such a cynic!)
Now, if Obama and his advisers had thought for a moment about the consequences of sanctions, they would have realized that, in cases like this, companies such as ExxonMobile had not really got a choice. If they hadn’t continued to work with Rozneft, the Russian company would simply have gone ahead without them with a consequent dilution of ExxonMobile’s return if/when the well is a success.
In addition to that, if the Russian company did need other help you can be sure there would have been a Chinese energy company there ready and willing and eager to take up the slack.
Whilst Obama and his predecessors have been blundering around the world pissing off friend and foe alike, the strategy of the Russian President has been to cultivate new friends and thereby new markets and customers for his country’s vast energy reserves.
It has been a clever move.
Sanctions or not, game to Putin this time I think.
I say hypocrisy for one simple reason, Obama – remember him, the man who was getting all the troops OUT of Iraq – wants to send them back in again because of the almighty mess that America, Britain and other western nations made blundering about in a country they didn’t understand.
It’s worse than that, of course, because Obama wants to send the troops back into Iraq to help stave off attacks by radical Islamists who have been making inroads in various parts of Iraq and are now threatening to close in on Baghdad itself.
This what he said, “I don’t rule out anything, because we do have a stake in making sure that these jihadists are not getting a permanent foothold in either Iraq or Syria.”
But hang on a minute.
There’s that stench of hypocrisy again.
Are these not the very same terrorists who Obama is supporting financially and with arms shipments in Syria?
They may have different names in different countries but these terrorists collectively want to establish an Islamic state in the region that surpasses national boundaries and governments. And from there, who knows?
It really is that simple. But it seems American foreign policy is in its usual state – completely confused, completely devoid of logic and good sense.
The mess that has been left behind in Iraq is catastrophic.
The country has more or less disintegrated politically and militarily, with Islamic militants capturing the country’s second-largest city this week after soldiers scattered, leaving their uniforms and weapons behind. So much for the $15 billion Washington (i.e., the American taxpayer) has already provided in training, weapons and equipment to the Iraqi government!
The result of this capitulation is that at least half a million ordinary citizens are understandably fleeing as the terrorists gain ground.
America’s ‘re-intervention’ will start with air strikes, possible using drones. But the chances of that doing anything more than temporarily halting the terrorists are slight. Next will come increased supplies of arms and equipment for the ‘official’ Iraqi forces. And then ‘advisors’ will be sent in – they’re probably already there, their presence will just be officially acknowledged.
There was a strong indication of what will come after that, when White House spokesman Jay Carney said. “We are not contemplating ground troops, I want to be clear about that.”
I have seldom seen a clearer admission that the White House is actively considering sending ground troops back into Iraq!
SoS Kerry has been wheeled out again to tell the world that the situation presently is not just a threat to Iraq, but to the United States and the rest of the world. We all know that John. What we also know – and what you don’t – is that more blundering about in a situation you do not understand, more young American live sacrificed for nothing, and more brave souls maimed for life to satisfy political whims won’t make things any better.
Will common sense ever prevail? Sadly I very much doubt it. The lack of understanding exhibited by the politicians seems to span all parties.
Back at the end of July in a previous Sunday Sermon I wrote that:
“Troops are being sent to Syria and soon we’ll get bogged down in another mess that’s none of our business and will probably take many years and many lives to get us disentangled from – leaving behind chaos and confusion and a worse situation than the one we tried to fix.”
Of course it’s still being denied by Nobel Peace Prize winner Obama and his administration, but there is little doubt now that Syria is next on their war hit list and we are indeed about to be bogged down in another bloody mess.
Already naval and ground forces are being positioned, for example, the cruise missile laden USS Gravely, USS Ramage, USS Barry and USS Mahan are all in the eastern Mediterranean.
The only remaining part is to con-vince the American public, who do not want another Middle Eastern debacle, that they are wrong and that a strike on Syria is essential for their future well being.
The pretext that is going to be used this time is ‘evidence’ of the alleged use of chemical weapons by the Assad regime against the rebels. And the people that are being relied on to provide that ‘evidence’ are the very same people who provided false ‘evidence’ that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction.
Everyone now knows and accepts that the WMD excuse for getting embroiled in Iraq was a deliberate deceit – otherwise known as a ‘lie’ – so the track record of the ‘evidence’ providers is neither good nor credible.
Already government apologists are making statements about how Syria had “used them [chemical weapons] before”, which is untrue. UN investigators charged the rebels, not Assad’s government’s forces, with use of chemical weapons in Syria earlier this year. Strangely (or perhaps not) Obama did not feel such a moral necessity to send a missile or two towards the rebels, instead he gave them more support.
Now add to that another good pinch of hypocrisy.
In fact make that two good pinches.
The first, because the rebellion now taking place within Syria would not have happened without the financial and military assistance of the US, along with Israel and Saudi Arabia. The hypocritical part of it all is that these three nations are in fact supporting people who, if successful, will become even more bitter enemies than the Assad regime.
And the second, because in an alleged effort to encourage ‘democracy’ in Syria, ‘democracy’ in America and Europe is being ignored.
For example, 64 percent of the French people have said they don’t want to get involved, but as in America the ‘people’ don’t have a say on the final outcome.
In Britain the Conservative Party Prime Minister David Cameron got a very embarrassing slap in the face in Parliament when he tried to emulate the lies of previous Prime Minister Tony Blair but lost a vote on military intervention in Syria. His spin doctors will be working overtime to cook up a good story for the next debate.
And it is plain that the majority of ordinary Americans do not want the President they elected on the promise of getting their troops out of Iraq and Afghanistan, plunging them into another conflict which could prove to be as bloody if not bloodier. So plain in fact that until late Friday Obama had planned bypassing Congress obviously trying to avoid a similar embarrassment to that which was suffered by British PM Cameron.
Think this time it will only be a few missiles and drones and that troops won’t be involved? After all Obama has said “We’re not considering any boots on the ground approach”.
Then you need to think again.
Sure, at the outset Obama will try to fool the public by limiting attacks to missile strikes, but these alone won’t be enough. Even in today’s high-tech world you can’t wage wars without those boots on the ground. And in those boots are brave, but misled men and women, some of whom will lose their lives or be maimed as a result.
The doomsday pundits are saying that all this posturing and war mongering by Obama could spiral into something worse. Possibly even be the start of WW3. Unfortunately grandiose claims like these only serve to lessen the credibility of those who are arguing against another foreign intervention.
Putin seems to have more sense than Obama. The Russians have already made their mistake in Afghanistan and are unlikely to do it again. Even less do they want to start or become involved in, a major conflict – not at the moment anyway.
China has little interest in getting involved in a conflict in the middle east either. They will take the long view, and, as they did with Iraq, they will let the US waste billions more dollars blowing things down and building them up again and then they will step in and secure more oil supplies for themselves.
If it does get down to the nitty gritty one possibility that is more realistic is that the conflict could spread to other nations within the Middle East.
Iran for example has a mutual assistance pact with Syria. It also knows it is next on the US hit list so the longer the US is focused on Syria the longer it will postpone an attack on itself. It is not beyond imagination therefore that Iran could send arms and even troops to assist Assad.
Neither is it unreasonable to imagine that, if missile strikes on Syria result in retaliatory Syrian missile attacks on Israel, Israeli troops will also be sent into Syrian territory, with US forces backing them up shortly thereafter.
That is boots on the ground, no matter what denials you currently hear.
However it pans out, two things are certain. ‘Evidence’ or no ‘evidence’ Uncle Sam will stick his nose in once again. And if it all goes pear shaped, as it most likely will, then UP is the only way your gasoline and heating oil prices will be heading.
The election is looming. Just about a month to go in fact.
Despite his numerous gaffs, after the first televised debate Romney has pulled slightly ahead in the polls and according to news reports, is “hardening his lead”, mainly on the back of a lackluster performance by Obama.
The VP debate last week didn’t produce a clear leader either – just created a frenzy among viewers to find out who was under the desk tickling Biden’s feet.
Last evening’s bout at Hofstra University, in Hempstead, New York didn’t produce a clear winner for me either, although some media polls put Obama ahead. His performance was certainly way better than in debate one, but you could easily have written the totally predictable moron media’s “Obama fights back” headlines without even watching it.
What this all means is that it’s still all to play for and far too close to call. In the end the committed supporters on each side will largely cancel each other out and the king-makers (or president-makers in this case) will be the 5 to 10 percent so far undecided.
Does it really matter who wins? After all, when it’s all done and dusted, the same types of people will hold the same offices as before. They will do the same things as before. And the mess we are all in will be as big as before – or bigger. I hope you have noticed that there has been a distinct failure by BOTH candidates to address the economic crisis in any meaningful and specific terms.
But there are two other questions we need to address.
First, there is an obscenity here that no one is talking very much about. Call it the elephant and the donkey in the room if you like. It is an obscenity that has been around for far too long, but today in our current dire economic circumstances, it has been elevated to the level of gross indecency.
What am I ranting on about this time?
Well, if you hadn’t guessed already, the obscenity I am referring to is the scandalous amount of money that BOTH presidential candidates are wasting trying to get themselves elected.
We all know Romney is a multi-millionaire, with equally rich chums or better, so it maybe isn’t such a surprise that he is able to raise hundreds of millions of dollars for his campaign war chest.
What is more surprising is Obama. His war chest is actually bigger than Romney’s and, quite unbelievably, is about to hit and probably surpass the $1 billion mark. It may already have by the time you read this.
I know a billion dollars isn’t what it used to be in terms of purchasing power, but it can still buy a lot of stuff. If you are having any difficulty visualizing how much a billion dollars is, think of it this way. The median income in the United States is around $29,000, meaning half the wage earners make less and half make more. If you make $29,000 a year, and don’t spend a single penny of it, it will still take you 34,482 years to save a billion dollars.
Now you are probably having trouble visualizing what it would be like to wait 34,482 years – if you are, it’s over 400 lifetimes!
Put another way, their combined waste of money could provide almost 150,000 surgical procedures, or more than 500 million meals for the poor and homeless, either of them money a lot better spent.
That anyone, Obama, Romney or A. N. Other can squander this amount of money for no return other than to aggrandize themselves with the title of President shows a deal of contempt for the ordinary people of the country, particularly those who are presently struggling to survive thanks to the financial mismanagement that these same politicians have presided over.
You can be sure that whoever gets into the big seat in the White House he will drown us in hypocrisy. We will get lectures about sacrifice and austerity measures, how deficits need to be cut, how taxes need to be raised, how you will have to tighten your belt for the sake of the country (whether you can still afford a belt or not) and so forth. Where was the belt tightening during the election campaign, boyz???
Of course, we are told that the bulk of the money in the politicians’ war chests is made up of the small $5, $10, $25 or $50 donated by ordinary folks. That may be true. But there are two types of dollars donated for election campaigns – ‘gifted’ dollars and ‘investment’ dollars. Most of the dollars donated by big corporations, super rich individuals and bankers fall into the latter category. Those people will be expecting, and will get, a return on that ‘investment’.
Thus the system – which is now so corrupt that rich executives ride roughshod over the law at will, and without fear of being punished no matter who is president – will remain largely as is.
This is a recipe for disaster. If history has taught us nothing else, it has taught us that a nation, caught between a broken political system and a populist movement of those who feel increasingly disenfranchised and undervalued, will at some stage experience rebellion against that corruption.
If you think not, think again. In fact, think tea parties in Boston and how and why the United States came into being in the first place.
Of course the solution to this particular obscenity is quick and easy. Put a ceiling on the amount of money a politician can legally collect and spend on his campaign. That would create a level playing field for all. Rich or poor, large party or small party, would have an equal chance of marketing their wears.
The only problem is that it is the same politicians who will have to make that law, and last reports still say that turkeys are very reluctant to vote for Thanksgiving and Christmas.
So that gets us to the second question in the title of this post, namely “Who is responsible?” In fact it is a two-fold question.
Are the politicians responsible because they lie to the people and promise one thing before an election and do another afterwards?
Or are the people responsible because they know fine well that the politicians are lying to them and won’t deliver on their promises, but still go out and vote for them anyway?
Let’s phrase these two questions another way.
Are the politicians responsible because they know that if they did not lie, not enough people would vote for them?
Or are the people responsible because they don’t really want to hear the hard truth and would not vote for a politician who told it how it is?
Everyone has to answer that dilemma themselves. Personally I wouldn’t vote for someone I know is lying to me, no matter what party they belonged to.