who can give up essential
liberty to obtain a little temporary
safety, deserve neither liberty
-- Benjamin Franklin
"All governments lie and nothing
say should be believed."
"Power tends to corrupt, and
absolute power corrupts
absolutely. Great men
almost always bad men."
1. ‘The Most Powerful Woman
in the World’
Invade Afghanistan (Again!), Chinese Fight Iraq
3. UN Experts to Obama: Don't
Bend to CIA Wishes on
4. Why we must rid the world of nuclear weapons
This is a Nederlog of Friday, November 28. It is a crisis log.
There are 5 items
with 6 dotted links: Item 1 is about German Chancellor Angela Merkel; item 2 is Tom Engelhardt on the many U.S. wars; item 3 is about UN experts who plead that the Senate's
Torture Report gets published rather than classified; item
4 is on nuclear weapons; and item 5 is a brief
personal piece on the crisis series, that will continue as long as my
health remains as it was in 2014 (but Nederlog very probably will have
a few more non-crisis items: I want to write some more on other topics).
Most Powerful Woman in the World’
item today is an article by Alexander Reed Kelly on Truthdig:
This starts as follows:
In fact, this refers to
the following much longer article by George Packer on The New
A New Yorker profile of
German Chancellor Angela Merkel depicts a shrewd politician cut to the
shape of leadership in our age: bland, personally reserved and entirely
uninterested in challenging the prevailing neoliberal order.
Merkel has been dubbed
the “Chancellor of Europe” for presiding over a thriving Germany while
driving the continent into ruinous social and economic austerity during
the ongoing eurozone crisis.
I've read all of it
although it is quite long and I don't like the style. As to the style:
This is less Georger Packer's fault (I guess) as it is "the American
intellectual style", that pretends to know all and to have met anyone
I do not like it, but I also know it is widespread and at least 50
Because it really is quite a long article I made an excerpt from it
that follows - and I made the excerpt firstly because I pay relatively
little attention to Germany in Nederlog, and secondly because I rather
like Merkel - I must confess - though not so much because of her
politics, as because she is undeniably intelligent, is originally a
real scientist, is not given to bombastic utterances, grew up in
Eastern Germany (the GDR), and also because she is a woman, though that
is less important .
Anyway, the excerpt - from 217 Kb - is this:
Of course, there is a lot
more text in the original, that you can consult using the last dotted
The ruling coalition
Merkel’s Christian Democrats and the Social Democrats has eighty per
cent of the seats in the Bundestag.
In a country where passionate rhetoric and macho strutting led to ruin,
her analytical detachment and lack of apparent ego are political
Germans call the Chancellor Mutti, or Mommy. The nickname was first
applied by Merkel’s rivals in the Christian Democratic Union as an
insult, and she didn’t like it, but after Mutti caught on with the
public Merkel embraced it.
While most of Europe stagnates, Germany is an economic juggernaut, with
low unemployment and a resilient manufacturing base.
While America slides into ever-deeper inequality, Germany retains its
middle class and a high level of social solidarity.
American politics is so polarized that Congress has virtually stopped
functioning; the consensus in Germany is so stable that new laws pour
forth from parliament while meaningful debate has almost disappeared.
Among German leaders, Merkel is a triple anomaly: a woman (divorced,
remarried, no children), a scientist (quantum chemistry), and an Ossi
(a product of East Germany). These qualities, though making her an
outsider in German politics, also helped to propel her extraordinary
(...) Merkel was a brilliant, ferociously motivated student.
Merkel studied physics at Leipzig University and earned a doctorate in
quantum chemistry in Berlin. She was allowed to pursue graduate
studies, in no small part because she never ran afoul of the ruling
People who have followed her career point to Merkel’s scientific habit
of mind as a key to her political success. “She is about the best
analyst of any given situation that I could imagine,” a senior official
in her government said.
“There aren’t many feelings that she’s really into, but liberty and
freedom are very important,” Göring-Eckardt, the Green leader, said.
“And this is, of course, linked to the experience of growing up in a
society where newspapers were censored, books were banned, travel was
Merkel’s decision to enter politics is the central mystery of an opaque
life. She rarely speaks publicly about herself and has never explained
“Schröder and Fischer, they are vain,” Koelbl said. “Merkel is not
vain—still. And that helped her, because if you’re vain you are
subjective. If you’re not vain, you are more objective.”
(...) being East German gave her advantages: she had learned
self-discipline, strength of will, and silence as essential tools.
Those who know Merkel say that she is as lively and funny in private as
she is publicly soporific—a split in self-presentation that she learned
as a young East German.
Merkel’s austerity policies have helped make Europe weaker, and
Europe’s weakness has begun affecting Germany, whose export-driven
economy depends on its neighbors for markets.
The spying scandals have undermined German public support for the NATO
alliance just when it’s needed most in the standoff with Russia.
Lambsdorff, the E.U. parliamentarian, told me, “When I stand before
constituents and say, ‘We need a strong relationship with the U.S.,’
they say, ‘What’s the point? They lie to us.’ ”
Merkel, at sixty, is the most successful politician in modern German
history. Her popularity floats around seventy-five per cent—unheard of
in an era of resentment toward elected leaders. Plainness remains her
political signature, with inflections of Protestant virtue and Prussian
Invade Afghanistan (Again!), Chinese Fight Iraq War (Again!)
item is an article by Tom Engelhardt that I found on Truthdig, but that
originates on tomdispatch.com:
This starts as follows:
There is a lot more - 4
pages in all - and it is a good article.
Let’s play a game, the
kind that makes no sense on this single-superpower planet of ours. For
a moment, do your best to suspend disbelief and imagine that there’s
another superpower, great power, or even regional power somewhere that,
between 2001 and 2003, launched two major wars in the Greater Middle
East. We’re talking about full-scale invasions, long-term occupations,
and nation-building programs, first in Afghanistan and then in Iraq.
In both countries, that
power quickly succeeded in its stated objective of “regime change,”
only to find itself mired in deadly conflicts with modestly armed
minority insurgencies that it simply couldn’t win. In each country, to
the tune of billions
of dollars, it built up a humongous army and allied “security” forces, poured
money into “reconstruction” projects (most of which proved
disasters of corruptionincompetence),
and spent trillions
of dollars of national treasure. and
Having imagined that, ask
yourself: How well did all of that turn out for this other power?
In Afghanistan, a recent news story highlights something of what was
accomplished. Though that country took slot 175 out of 177
on Transparency International’s 2013 Corruption Perceptions Index,
though its security forces continue to suffer grievous
casualties, and though parts of the country are falling
to a strengthening
Taliban insurgency, it has for some years proudly held a firm grip on
one record: Afghanistan is the leading narco-state on planet Earth.
Experts to Obama: Don't Bend to CIA Wishes on Torture Report
item is an article by Andrea Germanos on Common Dreams:
This starts as follows:
I agree that the Senate torture report on post-9/11 abuses
should be published, and in full, but I must say that this
seems quite unlikely - that is, unless Senator
A group of United Nations
human rights investigators has written to President Obama to urge him
not to yield to the CIA but to release in the most transparent way
possible the still-classified Senate torture report on post-9/11 abuses.
The Senate Intelligence
Committee, chaired by Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), has been in negotiations
with the administration over redactions to the report, thus continuing
to delay its release.
As David Firestone wrote
at the New York Times last week,
Deferring to the
C.I.A., the White House has blocked Democrats from informing the public
as to how much torture went on in the previous administration, and how
poorly it worked.
is refusing to allow the report to be released if it includes
pseudonyms for the C.I.A. officers who participated in the torture
program, claiming that even fake names would endanger the officers. But
without any name references, it’s impossible to follow the narrative
thread of the report and understand who is doing what to whom.
Udall, who lost his seat, but is free to speak without legal restraint
as a senator
till the end of this year, speaks up. But I do not know he will, and no
Apart from that, it seems rather probable that either nothing will be
published, or what will be published will be so much redacted by the
CIA (that once was supposed to be controlled by Congress, instead of
controlling it, effectively), that
it will be pretty useless.
There is considerably more under the last dotted link.
4. Why we must rid the world of nuclear weapons
item is an article by Eric Schlosser on The Guardian:
This starts as follows:
There is considerably
more, and it is a competent article, that also gives a fair listing of
quite a few risks for atomic war that were, sometimes very
Much has been written
about the nuclear negotiations with Iran. While diplomacy has
received a great deal of attention, one important question too often
gets lost in the details: why Iran must not get the bomb. In my view,
the answer is quite simple. An Iran armed with nuclear weapons would
pose a grave threat not only to world peace but to the Iranian people.
Almost 70 years have passed
since the destruction of Nagasaki, the last time a nuclear weapon was
used against a civilian target. The cold war ended without a nuclear
exchange, and the dangers of nuclear terrorism remain speculative, thus
avoided the last 70 years.
I agree with the title, though this will take much, and one reason is
given by Bertrand
Russell's ”History of the World (for use in
Martian schools)" from 1960,
when Russell was 87 or 88:
This is somewhat
of an exaggeration, but it is close enough to what really happened in
politics and religion to make one very afraid of what will happen
Since Adam and Eve
at the apple,
man has never refrained from any folly,
Of which he was capable.
if there is to be a nuclear conflict: This will probably be the end of
This personal bit is
only used to say three things, briefly also.
First, I am glad that I published this month six non-crisis
reports, and managed to finish my
autobiography - that seems to interest few but also is mainly
written to explain myself to myself - for the year 1984. (This was considerably
more work than for other years, because I had to select from a lot of
text, and also was forced to type out all the selections. The same will
hold for 1985, but that indeed will be the last year for which there
are extensive journals and a considerable activity on my part.)
Second, although the crisis reports take considerably more time
and trouble to write than ordinary Nederlogs, I will continue to write
them for the time being, if only because I think that (1) I am quite
right that the crisis continues, at least for nearly everyone who is
not rich; that (2) the main media, televized or printed, are steadily
growing worse and worse; and that (3) I do not know anyone else
who wrote around 700 articles on the crisis, starting on September 1,
Third, I can continue them (for the time being) because
my health this year was
a bit better than the last 20 years (apart from my eyes, and although
these are not healed, they also are considerably better than they were
for over two years).
I do not know whether this will remain to be so, or indeed whether I
get any better than I am now (also being 64, and being ill since 28),
but since I am a bit better than I was for 20 years, that was
also not expected, I am a bit pleased.
 Here it is necessary to insist, with
Aristotle, that the governors do not
rule, or at least, should not rule: The laws rule, and the
if good, is part of its executive power. Here I quote Aristotle from my
More on stupidity, the rule of law, and Glenn
It is more
that law should govern than any one of the
citizens: upon the same principle, if it is advantageous to place the
supreme power in some particular persons, they should be appointed to
be only guardians, and the servants of the laws.
(And I note the whole file
from is quite pertinent.)
 My main reasons to like her are that she is a real
scientist, does not indulge in political bombast, and seems to operate
fairly rationally and cautiously. None of these characteristic is
common in politicians (who tend to be lawyers, who are very prone to
bombast, and tend to be incapable of doing things rationally and
 The only one who comes to mind is Paul Krugman, who
does write a daily column, but his articles tend to be much
smaller than mine, and tend to be much
more concentrated on economics than mine.
(that I prefer
to call M.E.: The "/CFS" is added to facilitate search machines) which
is a disease I have since 1.1.1979: