Posted on 11-11-2009
Filed Under (Foreign Policy) by Rashtrakut

Hugo Chavez appears to be beating the war drums to divert attention from his failures at home.  Its not clear what triggered the latest bellicose rhetoric from Latin America’s top blow hard, but its time Venezuelan voters gave him the message previously delivered by Spain’s King Juan Carlos (whose democratic credentials are far superior).

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Posted on 11-11-2009
Filed Under (Current Affairs) by Rashtrakut

I previously posted on the United States summoning Sri Lanka’s green-card holding army chief for a briefing.  The BBC has an article out about how Sri Lanka’s opposition parties are trying to recruit the general to run for President.  A political campaign between the General and the President who destroyed the LTTE could turn into an exercise in chest thumping nationalism that would do little to solve Sri Lanka’s festering minority problem and could keep its Tamils in their internment camps even longer.

UPDATE: With the general resigning early it looks like a political campaign is in the offing.

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Posted on 11-11-2009
Filed Under (Foreign Policy) by Rashtrakut

A follow up on a previous post.  There is yet more chatter that the Afghan Taliban led by Mullah Omar is trying to distance itself from the nihilistic campaign of Al Qaeda.  With the American ambassador in Kabul now joining the critics of an expanded military presence in Afghanistan and with Hamid Karzai showing no signs of mending his ways this could enable the United States to cut bait on the Afghan quagmire and focus primarily on Al Qaeda.  Aram Roston at The Nation has a disturbing account of how the webs of corruption in Afghanistan have the United States funding Taliban operations.  The more I read about this mess, the more I gravitate towards the camp wanting to stop wasting American lives and treasure to protect a bunch of corrupt and brutal thugs.

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Posted on 11-11-2009
Filed Under (Foreign Policy) by Rashtrakut

It appears that the peace deal in Honduras has collapsed due to the inability of the principals to trust each other.  With the existing Honduran constitution barring him from running again and with his original term set to expire the international community faces the question of whether to recognize the upcoming elections.  No side comes out of this mess smelling like roses, but there seems to be no reason to damage Honduran institutions further by propping up the expired term of President Zelaya.  For that to happen, the elections will have to be open, fair and free and certified by international monitors.

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Posted on 11-11-2009
Filed Under (Foreign Policy, History) by Rashtrakut

An analysis of the changing Franco-German relationship.  In someways the change is not too surprising.  Ever since the Treaty of Verdun in 843 AD unwittingly spawned the framework of Western Europe the two countries have had differing outlets for their energies.

Germany’s eyes have been drawn east for a 1,000 years.  The initial instincts starting with the defeat of the Polish King Boleslaw I Chrobry by the Emperor Henry II to the establishment of the Livonian and Teutonic Knights were expansionist.  That phase was brought to a crushing end by the newly created Polish-Lithuanian super state at the Battle of Grunwald (Tannenberg).  After dealing with internal religious strife for the next 200 years, Germany spent the century after the end of the Seven Years War keeping the newly emerged Russian giant on its door step happy and sated expansionist instincts at the expense of Poland.  The expansionist urge returned with a vengeance in the early 20th century.  The establishment of the iron curtain shut off the eastern outlet and forced Germany to look west, but with the end of the Cold War its not unnatural that the eastern flirtation resumes.  Of course. the expansionist urges today are economic.

When not nibbling away at the German border, French interests historically drew France into the Mediterranean orbit (particularly after the Crusades created a chain of Frankish states in what is now Lebanon and Israel).  But France has always had its western (and often rocky) relationship with England, the Auld alliance with Scotland and it midwifed the birth of the United States.

The historical patterns are not guaranteed to repeat themselves, but they do suggest that the support structure forged after World War II that enabled the two nations (one recovering from military humiliation and the other from annihilation) to regain their strength together may have run its course.  The impact on the creaky new European State will be interesting to observe.

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Jon Stewart catches Sean Hannity using footage of another rally to make the Bachmann intimidation rally seem bigger.

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Of course this is not the first time Stewart has had fun at the expense of Fox News. See here.  This is also not the first time Fox has spliced video feeds, though they did apologize in that instance.

To be fair to the employees of Fox News, not everybody parrots the company line.  From earlier this summer watch as the Fox News anchor (who does not appear to be one of their opinion talking heads), desperately tries to bring Liz Trotta back on the liberal media bashing meme he was trying to create.  Instead she eviscerates Sarah Palin’s credentials and gets rapidly cut off as she mentions this Vanity Fair article.

Then an honorable mention to Shepard Smith who does try to live up to the Fox news motto.

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