Monthly Archives: August 2008

Editorial –John McCain And Leadership

The selection of Governor Sarah Palin as a candidate for vice president reveals more about the intellectual process of John McCain than about any other factor in this race. The Republican nominee for president met Governor Palin once, held a conversation with her, and then made his decision. McCain supporters hail this process as one revealing his willingness to take risks and be decisive. Anyone who has participated in an executive search understands the need for careful investigation of the candidate through extensive discussions and posing them problems they will confront once in office. McCain may have “gut feelings” but, at this point, does he have any awareness of Governor Palin’s grasp of complex international issues? A Republican supporter of Palin last night on CNN responded to the question about her foreign policy knowledge by exclaiming: “Alaska is up there by Russia, of course she knows about foreign policy.” One suspects John McCain’s process of learning about her foreign policy knowledge is not much intelligent than this remark.

John McCain just made his first important executive decision and it revealed a man who is impulsive and lacks sound judgment. He probably never met a conflict or crisis in which resort to military action was not the solution. He has a tendency to go “with his gut,” an approach which can be correct, but also runs the risk of serious miscalculations. Senator McCain is 72 and has had numerous illnesses in his life. Given that background, one would have expected a more conservative and intelligent process of deciding who would be his running mate.

CNN last night presented numerous Republicans who gushed about Governor Palin’s “executive experience.” One could place Alaska in Brooklyn and have millions of people left over. Why didn’t McCain select the Borough President of Brooklyn, after all at least he has executive experience dealing with urban issues? There is no doubt Governor Palin has done important reform work in Alaska, but she has never dealt with urban issues, complex problems of the economy, interacting with people of diverse backgrounds, or international issues. Does she have an extensive background in constitutional history? What exactly does John McCain know about her knowledge?

The United States of America is at an historic juncture in its history. The Republican party has put forth an impulsive man whose reputation is one of anger and resort to violence when thwarted in obtaining his desires and a poorly educated and ignorant individual. Character is an important factor in selecting a president, but after the past eight years of incompetence brought on by individuals who acted on “gut reaction” it is time for an intellectual approach to complex issues.

HIV Devastating Swaziland

A new United Nations report by the UN Development Program(UBDP) reveals a growing disaster in the African nation of Swaziland which has been impacted by a 40% infection rate for the entire population. Swaziland is governed by King Mswati III who has thirteen wives and undoubtedly sets an example of sexual behavior. The UN report blames the rampant HIV-Aids problem on promiscuity, polygamy, multiple sexual partners, and extramarital relations. “If one sexual partner in such sexual networks is HIV positive and sex is unprotected the practice becomes an important dirver of the pandemic.”

Hopefully, once the Bush adminstration is removed in America, more money can be allocated to birth control efforts which include extensive use of condoms in order to ensure safe sex. It is doubtful in the short run if cultural practices such as polylgamy can be curbed, but the presence of a safe sex campaign can assist in dealing with the problem.

Iran Warns Israel – Don’t Attack!

A top Iranian general has warned Israel to avoid taking action which might result in an expansion in military action in the Middle East. General Masoud Jazayeri, said: “Any aggression against Iran will start a world war. The unrestrained greed of the US leadership and global Zionism… is leading the world to the edge of a precipice.” His comments received some support from Jordan King Abdullah who urged Israel to show restraint becaue “Israel doesn’t have the ability to completely destroy the atomic reactor in Iran.” King Abdullah tried to get across the idea that inherent in the aggressive attitude of Iran to the world was a desire to finally be recognized as an important player on the world stage and to be respected.

King Abdullah offers sound advice to Israel which for too long has been trapped in the Bush concept that arms alone can change what happens in the Middle East. Israel has to become more aggressive, but, not on the military stage. It must become more proactive in seeking peace with Palestinian leaders because peace is the best hope for survival of the nation of Israel.

Muslims Have Mixed Reactions To Globalization

A recent study by the World Public Opinion(WPO) organization revealed mixed feelings among Muslims throughout the world regarding the impact of globalization on their lives. A majority in most nations support the idea of becoming part of the international economy while at the same time fearing taking such action will negatively impact their own cultural and religious views. Steve Kull of WPO, notes, “In the process of economic globalization, Muslims are not separatists. Economic integration within the world they say is a positive thing, but they don’t want it to undermine cultural identify.” Of the 5,200 people surveyed in Muslim nations such as Pakistan or Egypt or Indonesia or in societies such as Nigeria which contains many Muslims, the majority opted for participation in the world economy.

The WPO survey reveals a common view among those who seek to retain their cultural and religious values, they want to be part of the world and they want to stay away from world trends toward cultural change. Muslims blame “western values,” but those changes most probably transcend a particular nation or area of the world. They are part of modernization regardless of which group fosters the process. It is the price of living in an international community.

Russia Fails Gaining China Support

President Medvedev of Russia is disappointed at his failure to obtain support from China for his nation’s actions in Georgia. He was expecting the Shanghai Cooperation Organization(SCO), of which Russia is a member, would back up the invasion of Georgia. However, although China is not supportive of what Georgia’s actions, it has its own concerns about breakaway regions and will avoid supporting any effort to allow an area to secede from the mother country. The situation in Tibet and Xinjiang province where Muslim dissidents are fighting for autonomy makes the Chinese government hesitant to offer complete support to Russia which, in effect, aided a region to breakaway from its mother country. The other Asian nations in the SCO look more to China for leadership than to Russia and are quietly supporting that nation’s views on Georgia.

In a sense, Russia is now isolated from the world in its response to the Georgia invasion. French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner is hinting at a plan for the EU to institute economic sanctions against Russia which elicited an angry response from Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov, that such action would be “the product of a sick imagaintion.”

Perhaps, if Russia had halted at the border of South Ossetia the response to its actions might be less angry.

Guns For Hire In Great Britain

Historically, Great Britain was known as a society in which the use of weapons in crime was unusual and in the old days, the Bobby never carried a gun. A recent investigation by the Guardain newspaper reveals revolutionary changes in attitudes toward guns on the part of criminals. In the old days, criminals rarely used a gun when confronting the police, but today, they most probably possess weapons that far surpass the firing power of what is carried by an ordinary British policeman. The recent arrest of Wilkinson who ran a factory from whose weapons a reported 50 people were shot is hailed as an important step in dealing with arms sales, but, most probably, it will not impact gun sales. A source told a Guardian reporter, “You can get a clean(unused) 9mm for $3,000, a Glock for a couple of grand” and in Liverpool, “you can put in an order for 10 guns and some grenades and they’ll say OK and two weeks larter they will be there.”

The source told the reporter East European criminals are much more prone to rely on heavy weapons and are not afraid to employ violence in bullying their way into power. He thought they were organized in a more extensive manner than a Jamaican gangster. There is little doubt the world of crime is changing as cfiminals arrive from all parts of the world and they are more aggressive in use of guns than the old fashioned British criminal.

Globalization impacts all facets of life, including crime and death.

Putin-Bush Planned Fall Surprise In Georgia!

Prime Minister Putin of Russia charged in a CNN interview that President Bush orchestrated the Georgia invasion of South Ossetia as part of a pollitical plan to assist the candidacy of John McCain in this fall’s election for the president. Putin argued there was no crisis until Bush encouraged President Saakhasvili to launch his ill fated invasion of South Ossetia. “The suspicion will arise that someone in teh United States created this conflict onn purpose to sitr up the situation and create an advantage for one of the cfandidates in the competitive race for the presidency of the United States. They needed a small victorious war.” Naturally, the White House denied any such plan and claimed the prime minister’s statement was “not rational.”

This blog has consistently rejected conspiracy theories because in the overhwhelming number of cases they lack historical vallidity. But, Putin is certainly raising an important question which must be addressed. By coincidence the Georgian action occurred when Putin was in Beijing at the Olympics thus removing from the scene of power in Russia the one man who would act decisively and quickly since few doubted President Medvedev would act in such a manner. There was no initial action by anyone in South Ossetia which would have necessitated an armed response. There were US military personnel on the scene. The unknown question is whether George Bush by not saying something or quietly encouraging action set the stage for the Georgia invasion.

It is ironic that George Bush is accusing another leader of lacking in rationality.

Hizbuallah Has New Guided Missiles

Many Israel leaders have been arguing over the past several years in favor of policies that present a tough stance regarding Palestinian demands on the assumption time is on their side. Instead of confronting the reality of restoring the West Bank, Prime Minister Olmert and others fight to protect the rights of West Bank settlers whose presence endangers any prospect for peace. Hizbullah has just announced they now possess advanced Iranian supplied missiles capable of hitting deep inside Israel. Hizbullah promises to use those missiles if Israel launches an attack against their positions. The militant group also claims its missiles are equipped with a special mechanism which increases the accuracy of the missiles.

The constant mistake made by Israel leaders is believing time was on their side. It never was and never will be because there are so many more Arabs than Jews in the Middle East. The presence of wealthy Middle Eastern nations ensures militant groups like Hizbullah will be supplied with weapons. To believe, “knocking out” the Hizbullah missiles ends dangers is to live in fantasy.

Allure Of Army Life Fades In Germany

During the past few hundred years, the German army was feared for its outstanding military prowess, but recent times are revealing dramatic changes in what young German males hold as important in life. American leaders such as Barack Obama have promised to urge Germany to take a more active role in fighting militants in Afghanistan. But, a combination of factors make unlikely there will be a dramtic increase in the number of soldiers Germany will be able to dispatch to the distant land. The number of high school graduates is steadily declining due to the lack of a high birth rate. But, the prospect of 2008 young males of working for low pay, under terrible working conditions, and most important, facing the prospect of getting killed, is an offer they can readily refuse.

Ullrich Kirsh, of the German Army Federation,” puts it this way, “It’s the danger of the mission in Afghanistan that is making prospecltive soldiers think twice about a military career.” Seventy five years ago, most Europeans and Americans would have welcomed a German youth that did not want to fight in wars. Well, that day has come to pass. For some reason, Americans are not pleased.

A New America Is Born With Obama Nomination

To those of us born at a time when a black skinned person was unable to drink from the same fountain of water or attend the same law schools as those with white skins, the nomination of Barack Obama is the change once dreamed of that has come to fruition. I entered the US Army in 1951 and wound up at the Headquarters of the US 7th Army. One day a friend and I were assigned the task of developing an Integration plan for the 7th Army and spent the coming months trying to ensure that all who serve our nation have equal opportunities to succeed. The moment seems so long ago and far away with the nomination of Obama to run for president.

After leaving the armed forces, I was frortunate to be in the class of Dr. Kenneth Clark who wrote the psychological brief for Brown v. Board of Education. We happened to have a class with Dr. Clark the day of the decision and when he entered the room we stood and applauded and most cried with joy. That day in May, 1954, Dr. Clark told us the battle to achieve the end of segregation would be long and most probably wound take at least fifty years. The dream of Dr. Clark and Brown vs. Board of Education has now been fulfilled. We are a new nation, one that has turned our faces to the future rather than to the past.

There are those who see only racism and hatred in America. They see the glass of freedom as diminished, but most Americans know the glass will soon be overflowing with the waters of equality. As Dr. Clark said fifty years ago, the fight to end racism is tough, it will not happen in a day or in one adminstration. Barack Obama’s election as president marks a beginning, not an end to the struggle to make this a society in which prejudice has no place.