Monday, July 10, 2017

Q&A - 10/7

G. Friedman

[From The Next Decade, 2010] The Poles have suffered in direct relation to the strategic importance of their location, bordering both Germany and Russia and occupying the North European Plain, which extends like a thoroughfare from the French Atlantic coast to St. Petersburg. The other eastern European countries share the Polish view, but they are geographically safer, behind the Carpathian Mountains.

Exposed on either side, Poland will have little choice but to go along with whatever the Germans and Russians decide, which would be disastrous for the United States. It is therefore in the American interest to guarantee Poland’s independence from Russia and Germany, not only formally but by creating a viable and vibrant Polish economy and military that can serve as the model and driver for the rest of eastern Europe. Poland is the historical bone in the throat of both Germany and Russia, and it is in the American interest to make sure that it is firmly lodged there. A Poland aligned with Germany is a threat to Russia, and the reverse is true as well. Poland must remain a threat to both, because the United States cannot let either feel too secure.

Over the next ten years, an American relationship with Poland would serve two functions: it might prevent or limit the Russo-German entente, but failing that, it could create a counterbalance. The United States urgently needs Poland, because there is no alternative strategy for balancing an alliance between Russia and Germany.


Friedman is obsessed with this "entente". Stop the entente! Is the current admin following this playbook, I wonder?

G. Friedman

[From America's Secret War, 2005] When U.S. forces first deployed in Saudi Arabia in order to face down Iraq, they were confined to bases. The reason was that the Saudis were afraid that public awareness of the American presence on their soil would generate a massive reaction. On one rare occasion when U.S. troops went off base, a small group visited a Saudi coffee shop. There they were taunted by Saudis, who told them that the Saudi government had merely hired the U.S. Army, just as they hired engineers or servants. The U.S. soldiers responded vigorously, and were later brought up on charges.

The incident resulted in a sharp encounter between Norman Schwarzkopf and the Saudi command. Schwarzkopf demanded that the Saudis take steps to stamp out the perception, encouraged by the government, that the Americans were simply hired mercenaries under Saudi control. What Schwarzkopf and the rest of the U.S. government didn't grasp is that the story was spread among the Saudi population because the Saudi government harbored a desperate fear: that the presence of U.S. forces in Arabia would trigger an uprising. In fact it did generate a rising, but not an immediate one. It triggered Al Qaeda.[..]

[After 9/11] The Saudis simply did not want to participate in the American war [against al Qaida] to any extent that would have made a difference. This startled the United States, which believed it had saved the Saudis during Desert Storm. It was the culmination of a policy that had been evolving for a decade. The United States needed a way to pressure the Saudis into doing what the Americans needed—even though it was not in the Saudi interest. The United States pressed, and the Saudis deflected [..]

The central dilemma the U.S. now faced was how to get the Saudis into the war. The problem was that the Saudis did not think the United States was going to win this war. They understood the region and their own country far better than the Americans, and the United States did not terrify the Saudis nearly as much as Al Qaeda did. The Saudis had heard U.S. rhetoric in the past and were not impressed. Somehow the U.S. had to demonstrate just how serious and frightening it could be, and then be in a position to put massive military and political pressure on the Saudis.

This was the origin of the U.S. decision to invade Iraq.[..]

I see

According to this argument, after 9/11 United States was getting kicked out of SA, so it not only needed a new base that'd be strategic enough to project power into Middle East and beyond, they also needed to force Saudis (and Pakistani) cooperation (SA was encircled by US after the invasion "oddly enough"), at the same time also demonstrate power -especially important- unilateral power to the Muslim world. Hence Iraq.

There are great gems in this book, how the anti-Soviet Afghani mujaheddin was Jimmy Carter's idea, how, before the second Iraq War and Saudis were being pressured into cooperation, they tried to deflect and change the subject, so they triggered a whole Israel-Palestine peace process, Tom Friedman from NYT got suckered in.. What a beautiful kabuki. I believe the main thrust of the book is correct; which brings forth a terrible verdict against media - they don't know anything about anything. Government lies, and the ppl the public relies on to follow them are usually powerless and clueless to cover it. Sad! 

(The press is essential of course for times when gov does slip up, and gov is more alert because press is there. They are also needed as a channel for leaks which are signs of disagreement within administrations.. Etc etc.)


Daniel Dae Kim and Grace Park [are] leaving CBS's resilient hit "Hawaii Five-0," [..] As Kim himself confirmed in a Facebook post to his fans, the duo left because their request to be paid the same as their white co-stars, Alex O'Loughlin and Scott Caan, was rejected. The gap in what they were asking for and what CBS was willing to offer was tiny — reportedly a difference of as little as $5,000 per episode,

Ultimately, the refusal to pay Kim and Park on matching terms with O'Loughlin and Caan was CBS's formal declaration that they were determined to protect a disparity that has been a sore point since the show's premiere: The assertion that O'Loughlin and Caan are "Hawaii Five-0" "stars," and Kim and Park are merely "co-leads."[..]

It's hard to avoid concluding that this is a direct reflection of Hollywood's continuing legacy as a system where white actors and male actors are seen as more valuable than nonwhite and female ones, simply by accident of melanin and genitalia.


I happened to be binging on this show when this news broke, so let me add my $0.02.

The show content is very well balanced on the ethnic front. No issues there. The inequality problem might not be where ppl think it's at -  O'Loughlin plays the team lead, so he is the most central character, it makes sense to pay him little more, even symbolically.

Caan is the resident gumba in the show,  he is doing his "neurotic Italian" thing, he is from New Jersey, the fish-out-the-water aspect is hilarious, there is all this surf-and-turf, and Danny (his character) is like "I am dyin' oveeeer heereee". U get the idea.

But Caan is also the only one in the cast who played in major movies, with major stars, such as 60 Seconds, Ocean's Eleven, etc. There is a hierarchy among actors - movies are at the top, TV at the bottom.  Yes one could argue "well these days TV is like movies". Right.. but you know what else is like movies? Movies. So unless there were changes in the writing that the Kim and Park did not like, I believe the issue is overblown, there is another hierarchy in play besides the ethnic thing. Park was in Battlestar Galactica, Kim was in  Lost, but these shows, while very well done at "movie quality" they still are not movies. That's how they see it.

Oh, Caan is also gumba royalty (his father is James Caan of Godfather fame).

Note: I am a fan of both Park and Kim (I also have many Jewish friends). I watch a lot of scifi, and spotted Park in Andromeda, and Stargate (the tv show), both great performances. Saw Kim in one Star Trek Voyager episode, one of the rare ones I like. 

Guns and Butter

Peter Schiff "We had a lot of problems that happened in 70s, under Nixon and Ford. But those problems started in the 60s, the great ...