Posted on 14-10-2009
Filed Under (Current Affairs, Religion) by Rashtrakut

This story and the comments by the anonymous Internet warriors is disgusting. A bunch of Republican congressmen felt it incumbent upon themselves to have the House Sergeant at Arms investigate the “infiltration” of Congress through Muslim staffers and interns. Oh the horror!!!

This post brings up the question from General Powell quoted in a previous blog. “Is there something wrong with being a Muslim in this country?” The bigotry spewed from the right wing now reaches such proportions that Republican congressmen (albeit from the extreme fringe of an already fringe party) seek to initiate a McCarthyesque search for “infiltration” of Congress by the practitioners of a religion with over a billion practitioners world wide.

In this world view Osama Bin Laden, the Taliban and Wahhabi inspired fundamentalist preachers somehow represent the religious spectrum of an entire faith in a way that Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell could never do so for Christianity. While lashing out at the bloody history of radicalized Islam, they conveniently forget the violence wreaked elsewhere by other religions.

This must stop. Substitute Arab or Islam in these screeds with any other race or religion and even the supine Republican leadership that kowtows to these purveyors of hate would have to step in. The Republican Party attempted to re-brand itself with a new website this week, only to find that all its civil rights heroes dated before the Civil Rights Act or back to the Civil War and that baseball hero Jackie Robinson was an independent who turned against the Republican Party after the 1964 convention that nominated Barry Goldwater. The Republican Party lost its moral high ground on race when it embraced the Southern strategy. It is time it rediscovered its civil rights roots and displayed the moral fortitude to stand up to the rank bigotry some of its congressmen displayed today.

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Posted on 14-10-2009
Filed Under (Current Affairs, Environment) by Rashtrakut

As the world considers limiting oil consumption to fight global warming, Saudi Arabia is tossing a cynical ploy to delay negotiations. After decades of profit from the Western addiction to oil Saudi Arabia now wants to be compensated so that it can be diversify its economy.  Given the Saudi logic, maybe the rest of us should be reimbursed by OPEC for the cartel’s manipulation of oil prices.

OPEC’s plea for assistance is very different than that put forward by China and India. For years the rulers of OPEC states have squandered their oil bounty in bribing restive populations or lavish largesse to its leaders. Very few emulated Malaysia and Indonesia in diversifying their economies. This was even after the drop in oil prices in the 1990s showed the folly of relying solely on oil revenues. It is hard to feel sorry for resource rich countries who already have the money necessary to diversify their economies.

As it stands, even with reduction in oil consumption OPEC’s oil fields are not going to run dry any time soon. Even if the oil consumption in the West drops, it will rise in China and India. While OPEC may not enjoy the record profits of the last few years, the shower of oil money will continue for some time to come. Maybe instead of exporting Wahhabi fundamentalism abroad or bankrolling totalitarian dictatorships, Saudi Arabia, Venezuela and other OPEC countries will use this as an opportunity to improve their societies and economies. The world will be a better place for it.

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Posted on 14-10-2009
Filed Under (Current Affairs, Foreign Policy) by Rashtrakut

Hamid Karzai’s Teflon cover in American opinions sheets is drawing to an end.  A year after now Vice President Biden famously walked out of a dinner where Karzai denied that his government was corrupt, Tom Friedman now joins the chorus.  This follows a detailed New York Times article this summer on Karzai detailing his descent into haplessness and paranoia.  Vietnam analogies are always problematic, but Washington now faces a repeat of trying to bolster a corrupt, faction ridden ally against a more ideologically cohesive foe.  The long term answer to Washington’s draw down in Afghanistan, short of abandoning the place, relies on an Afghan partner whose army takes the lead in fighting the Taliban.  That and not the surge enabled Washington’s drawdown in Iraq…absent that the United States is stuck in the Afghan quagmire.

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