Blog of Mass Distraction

Saturday, January 22, 2005

That didn't take long

The Indonesian military has reportedly been attacking, and has killed, a number of people in Sumatra. The attacks were said be to against rebel fighters. This is why they've been trying to keep the movements of journalists and foreigners under strict control. But without foreigners and journalists in the area, the only source they have is the Indonesian military and given its history, that's not a terribly reliable source. This is also the reason they are trying to get foreigners, particularly foreign military personnel, out of Sumatra as quickly as possilbe. News of these altercations actually came out earlier this month... I guess I haven't been checking sources often enough.

The final run up to the Iraqi election has also come; though it doesn't show much in Iraq. The candidates of the many parties have not been campaigning much if at all for fear of their lives. Daily violence and frequent bombings have been stifling election work throughout the country. The newly inaugurated Bush and Iyad Allawi insist that the elections will go through on schedule.
The violence in Iraq has also caused increasing trouble in other parts of the Arab world. In Jordan increasing anti-American sentiment has caused the government, which staunchly supports the US War on Terror, to crack down on its people. The US administration pledges to continue spreading freedom and democracy and yet Jordan is a constitutional monarchy with a lot of power still vested in the crown. The US complains about the lack of democracy and freedom in the Middle East and yet it supports some of the worst offenders in the region. Monarchies and dictatorships that punish advocacy and outspokeness as treasonous sedition.
At the same time the people in those Arab countries blame their problems and the two major flashpoints in the region, Iraq and Palestine, on the United States. While some blame may be pointed at their governments, the US is the focus of their anger. Yet they also derive benefit from US investment and the relationship between their governments and the West. Both sides draw some benefits and experience many harms from this relationship. So it occurred to me that this is relationship is somewhat like that of a drug dealer and an addict. The addict certainly gets something from the drug dealer and while he may complain about the dealer, he certainly doesn't stop taking drugs from them. The dealer benefits from the weakness and suffering of others. And though there may be a distinction between drug dealers and murderers, many drug dealers would not hesitate to murder others if it were expedient to their desires. While certainly not a perfect comparison, I feel this is a relatively accurate analogy for explaining the situation to someone who may not understand.

On another note, Bush's inauguration cost some $40 million, one of the most expensive presidential inaugurations in US history. Bush didn't mention Iraq at all in his speech but he has promised to bring toghether the people of the US and heal divisions. But appointing Rice as Secretary of State, Gonzales as Attorney General, and keeping on the whole defense crew of Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, Feith, Bolton et al, points in another direction. Well at least the US public wasn't footing the bill for the $40 million celebration... it was all covered by corporate donors.


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