Saturday, May 22, 2010

Bangkok Burning

I wrote a month ago about Thailand expressing my concerns over its future. Well, stuff happened fast. We all saw the 2 month siege in prime areas in Bangkok. Class antagonism was thick in the air denied, of course, by those on top. "Class? What class? We are Thais. We love each other!. Sure.

My latest column on this topic is here:

Sunday, May 09, 2010

History Repeats Itself

Karl Marx was a man of great soundbites. One of his classic ones was this: History Repeats Itself. First as Tragedy, second as Farce.

It takes a novelist of history tales to drive home the point of how foolish this entire US war policy in Afghanistan is.

Read it here.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

My Latest Take on the Thailand crisis

http://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/shaw12/English

Monday, April 05, 2010

Burial Grounds of Empires

Yes I know i may sound like a broken record, but this is no laughing matter. Soldiers are dying, frankly unnecessarily, in Afghanistan while its head of state is fighting to the last soldier -- of the West which he despises -- while he steals money directly from US taxpayers, by far the largest providers of cash and while his brother, the opium king, is selling it to addicts in mostly higher income addicts who are, as you guessed it, mainly westerners, which Karzai also despises.

What to do? The report here cannot be more clear. Kabul has got the West by the balls.

Karl Marx, of all people, would be laughing behind his stupid beard. Afterall it was he who uttered those immortal words: "History repeats itself first as tragedy second as farce."

The US foray in Afghanistan is a farce. But actually it's worse. People, soldiers, innocent civilians, enemies, are dying everyday. But the enemies are dying at a slower rate than the "Good Guys".

This movie can only end in a farcical tragedy.

Saturday, April 03, 2010

Quagmire in Afghanistan

Not many pundits were using that Q word 2 years ago. There is no need to thump my chest and say I did so even earlier. This is a national disaster of which bravado is misplaced. Now the Q word has become common.

Today's column in the NY Times by Bob Herbert is a powerful reminder how American presidents have not learned much from the disastrous Vietnam. Read here.

The reasons are various. One had to be the way they were "educated" where history courses are seldom part of the Liberal Arts requirement. You have heard me say this on many occasions already.

The most popular course at the top universities is Economics. How well that has served national interests? Well, quite apart from the recent financial crisis aided and abetted by the "smartest" crew on Wall Street mostly educated at the top schools, just look at how the "best and the brightest" have also helped their nation to become indebted to the Communist Party of China!

Herbert's column neglected to touch on a very pertinent issue in the mindset of Karzai. In his recent diatribe against the US and the "West", he used the P word, as in Puppet, to describe how the West was treating his regime. And he resented that. As part of his defiant "show you" exercises, he invited Iran's dictator to go to Kabul during which meeting both of them verbally attacked the "West", a short hand for Washington.

The US still didn't get it. Karzai was not actually wrong about the Puppet regime that he was. The US wants to fight the war and change Afghanistan to its image. Karzai was always meant to be the acceptable proxy of Washington's proxy. DC would not appoint some one who does not share its vision. To put differently, US wanted its own man running Kabul.

Of course that means the man in Kabul is effectively a puppet.

The problem for Washington in Kabul, and in the old Saigon, is to ignore something totally fundamental. Karzai's interests are not necessarily the same as those of USA.

US wants a democratic regime and to defeat Al Qaeda and the Taliban. Karzai has no desire to see a truly democratic society which may de throne him and to jeopardize the financial interests of himself, his brother and his extended family.

Karzai is an Afghan first and foremost carrying with him all the cultural and emotional "baggage" of millennium. How the US elite think they could miraculously change that baggage to their liking is indeed a sign of hubris and bad education.

So the US is mired in a quagmire supporting a regime that in fact despise the US and is perfectly willing to fight the war to the last US soldiers while the ruling family enriches itself on US taxpayers' largess and on the ignorance of Washington leaders with all its IVY League education.

A recent study shows close to half of the top leaders in Washington have a Harvard degree and close to 80% have at least one IVY League + Stanford + Berkeley degree. Very sad.

Friday, April 02, 2010

Afghan War "movie" is getting from bad to worse

Well, the inevitable happened. Karzai is now attacking the "West", mainly its principal patron, the US, because he is being depicted in the "West" as corrupt and that he managed to "steal" the last election declaring him the winner.

He has the balls to do that because he knows he has got USA on a noose: Washington wants to win the war more than he does.

Why does Washington want to hang on to this corrupt man as ally is evidence of how fundamentally wrong the US war policy in Afghanistan has always been -- propping up a corrupt dictator suddenly handed billions to fight an enemy who does not need the same fortunes to die. The war policy itself corrupts. An impoverished country with a life style and a culture mired in medieval times is suddenly given billions to spend with the purse string controlled by a handful of unelected leaders with their own ancient tribal agendas is a recipe for disaster.

The US couldn't even field an effective police force in Afghanistan, let alone an army, to fight is due to the same reason why the US failed in Vietnam. Your local ally government has no credibility among the people in whose name those government rule.

But as I have been saying like a broken record, US leaders do not read history and therefore, as the famous saying goes, are doomed to repeat the same mistakes.

Karzai's obvious despise for the "West" and for the US is recorded here.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Elite Education in the US of A

Something is very wrong with how the American elite gets educated by all those top ranked universities when famous alumni who went on to become leaders make the same stupid mistakes over and over again. Read this well-written op ed here by one of the most informed writers on the Muslim world on Afghanistan that is so vivid and heart wrenching you want to throw your computer out of the window.

Moral Quagmire in Afghanistan

So Prez Obama was just in Kabul days ago pressing Prez Karzai to crack down on corruption knowing full well his brother is a drug king. Guess what? Nothing is done. On the contrary US officials are saying, as they did in Vietnam, such drug runners are essential to the war's effort. Really? Didn't work then, wouldn't work now.

Read Prez Kabul's de facto response here to Obama's visit.