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Nederlog


  November
28, 2014
Crisis: Merkel, U.S. Wars, U.S. Torture Report, Nuclear, Personal
  "They who can give up essential 
   liberty to obtain a little temporary
   safety, deserve neither liberty
   nor safety."
 
   -- Benjamin Franklin [1]
   "All governments lie and nothing
   they say should be believed.
"
   -- I.F. Stone
   "Power tends to corrupt, and   
   absolute power corrupts
   absolutely. Great men are        
   almost always bad men."
   -- Lord Acton
















Prev- crisis -Next
Sections
Introduction

1.
‘The Most Powerful Woman in the World’
2.
Russians Invade Afghanistan (Again!), Chinese Fight Iraq
     War (Again!)

3. UN Experts to Obama: Don't Bend to CIA Wishes on
     Torture Report

4. Why we must rid the world of nuclear weapons 
5.
Personal

About ME/CFS


Introduction:

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).

And here goes:

1. ‘The Most Powerful Woman in the World’

The first item today is an article by Alexander Reed Kelly on Truthdig:
This starts as follows:

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.

In fact, this refers to the following much longer article by George Packer on The New Yorker:
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 of value.
I do not like it, but I also know it is widespread and at least 50 years old.

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 [2].

Anyway, the excerpt - from 217 Kb - is this:

The ruling coalition of 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 strengths.
---
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 rise.
---
(...) 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 party.
---
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 forbidden.”
---
Merkel’s decision to enter politics is the central mystery of an opaque life. She rarely speaks publicly about herself and has never explained her decision.
---
“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 uprightness.

Of course, there is a lot more text in the original, that you can consult using the last dotted link.

2. Russians Invade Afghanistan (Again!), Chinese Fight Iraq War (Again!) 

The next item is an article by Tom Engelhardt that I found on Truthdig, but that originates on tomdispatch.com:

This starts as follows:

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 and 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.

There is a lot more - 4 pages in all - and it is a good article.

3. UN Experts to Obama: Don't Bend to CIA Wishes on Torture Report

The next item is an article by Andrea Germanos on Common Dreams:

This starts as follows:

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.

[...]The administration 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.

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
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 one does.

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 

The next item is an article by Eric Schlosser on The Guardian:

This starts as follows:

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 far.
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 narrowly,
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:

Since Adam and Eve at the apple,
man has never refrained from any folly,
Of which he was capable.

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
if there is to be a nuclear conflict: This will probably be the end of mankind.

5. Personal

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, 2008. [3]

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.

---------------------------------
Notes
[1] 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 government, if good, is part of its executive power. Here I quote Aristotle from my More on stupidity, the rule of law, and Glenn Greenwald:
It is more proper 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 I quote from is quite pertinent.)

[2] 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 cautiously).

[3] 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.


About ME/CFS (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:
1. Anthony Komaroff

Ten discoveries about the biology of CFS(pdf)

2. Malcolm Hooper THE MENTAL HEALTH MOVEMENT:  
PERSECUTION OF PATIENTS?
3. Hillary Johnson

The Why  (currently not available)

4. Consensus (many M.D.s) Canadian Consensus Government Report on ME (pdf - version 2003)
5. Consensus (many M.D.s) Canadian Consensus Government Report on ME (pdf - version 2011)
6. Eleanor Stein

Clinical Guidelines for Psychiatrists (pdf)

7. William Clifford The Ethics of Belief
8. Malcolm Hooper Magical Medicine (pdf)
9.
Maarten Maartensz
Resources about ME/CFS
(more resources, by many)



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