Friday, June 10, 2011

The Economist has the article of the week

If you ask me, the article that has more significance for the future of the West is the musings of "Charlemagne" at the Economist.  Do yourself a favor and read it.  And then wonder for a few minutes what the fate of the Western world is in front of Islam fundamentalist terrorist or narco states like Venezuela.


  1. Interesting article, Daniel. But, I didn't quite get what point you were trying to make.

  2. Roy

    that the west defense system is in reflux, that the interests or europe and the US might not be the same and that the interest of both of them do not seem to be centered in latin america.

    draw your own conclusions as to the ability of chavez to keep forging ahead....

    another point is the willingness of the west to defend itself as some countries do not want to jeopardize their welfare state and internal piece by accepting incr4eased defense spending. the implications of that for the stability of the EU and the NATO are obvious.

  3. You'll have to remind me again how many countries Libya and Iran have invaded recently.

    Unless you count the Muslim immigration to Europe.

  4. m-astera

    that is not the point of the post. at all.

  5. Daniel,
    Qu'est ce que tu fumes?
    I did not find it in the Netherlands.
    Must be some tropical stuff
    (running for cover)

  6. While it is legitimate to ask which countries Libya or Iran have recently invaded, that is really a question about their power as compared to that of their neighbours.

    Does anyone think Iran would not invade Israel if it could? That it does not do so because of its deep commitment to peace?

    And of course Libya does invade other countries, such as Chad, because it has the power to do so.

    I hope the real reason for asking the question was not to divert attention from internal repression. Syria also doesn't do much invading of others, but does that justify them slaughtering their population?

  7. It's bad enough that small countries want to get a free ride in Europe but the case of Germany is inexcusable.It takes an attitude of moral superiority towards the more "violent" French and British while increasing its dependency on the gas of Fascist Putin.It seems like the unresolved trauma of being the instigator of World War 2 , gives an excuse to let others carry the burden .

  8. For those who speak German, on Lybia

    Is it the oil then? Cool...then why pretend it is about Gaddafi?
    The burden of what? The burden of getting the oil fields?

  9. Kepler,

    By burden I am referring to a general attitude of the Germans towards military spending and action.Even in Afghanistan where they participate, it's done in a limited way excluding any combat, so the French and the British have to do the larger part of the European effort while Germany adapts both a condensing and unrealistic attitude.They feel superior for having pacifist attitudes while allowing others to do the dirty work.

  10. They feel superior?
    Really? How do you measure that? One could say others feel superior because they are shooting from their Apaches. One of the differences betwen the German army until some weeks ago (and it will be so for some months until the change is felt) is that the troops represent a fairly good part of Germany's population, which is definitely NOT the case in the US, in Britain and in France.
    In the US specially it is the poorest and those with a very conservative frame of mind, who see the US as "manifest destiny", as well as those who want to become US citizens asap who become soldiers.

    It is a complete frame of mind. Once you have people doing military service who have the proper education, you start to have thinking people. And that brings a complete different view on the issue.

    There are many other reasons. Whereas just a tiny proportion of US Americans got to know about the huge amount of civilian deaths from US drones in Yemen and Afghanistan, among other places, Germans do get that kind of information in their daily news.
    Whereas US Americans get from CNN mostly interviews with Petreus and with "our good courageous boys defending democracy in Afghanistan", Germans are used to watching not only Petraeus and US soldiers (they do get that part) but also very normal Afghani families who speak in their own languages and are not the type "English-speaking Afghan".

    It is a completely different world then.

  11. Jeffrey House--

    "Does anyone think Iran would not invade Israel if it could? That it does not do so because of its deep commitment to peace?"

    Um, yeah, I would be one of those who would question what Iran would have to gain by invading Israel. Resources? Nope. Strategic positioning? Iran already has that, look at a map. Support for their ethnic fellows? Nope, Iranians are Persian, not Arab. I fail to see anything that Iran would gain by invading Israel other than to shut up a loud-mouth troublemaker, and they won't do that because the loud-mouth troublemaker would go hide behind the skirts of the US.

    You may safely assume that I have no more affection or use for Israel than I do for North Korea

  12. Boludo Tejano10:25 PM

    In the US specially it is the poorest…….who become soldiers.

    From a 2008 article: Who Serves in the U.S. Military? The Demographics of Enlisted Troops and Officers.
    American soldiers are more educated than their peers. A little more than 1 percent of enlisted personnel lack a high school degree, compared to 21 percent of men 18-24 years old. ….

    Enlisted Recruits are More Likely to Come From Middle and Upper-Middle Class Neighborhoods.

    10.7 % of Enlistees came from the Poorest Quintile 1[Poorest Quintile]
    18.3 % of Enlistees came from Quintile 2
    21.7 % of Enlistees came from Quintile 3
    24.4 % of Enlistees came from Quintile 4
    24.9 % of Enlistees came from the Quintile 5 [Richest Quintile]
    [2007 recruits]

    Read it. Say no more.
    My final comment on the thread.

  13. Anonymous1:24 AM

    The main problem this world will eventually really have to deal with is not oil or the financial system or islamic radicalism, but FOOD. GM grains will postpone the inevitable (btw: keep eating your organically grown sh..! - pun intended - note what is happening in Europe / Germany!)

    Seems to me that the best positioned country for this crisis is the US. We are autarchic, we have the leadership in GM technology and the fact that we are militarily the strongest in the world, as harsh as it sounds, will come pretty handy. There will likely be food wars and as history has taught us over and over (sorry for the clichéd truism) that when push comes to shove, the strongest will survive.

    And Kepler, why do you constantly throw out these completely false statements about the US, in this case the demographics of the military? You seem to be brainwashed by e.g. CNN or the NYT? Have you still not learned that they lie? Or are you making up this stuff yourself, because in typical leftist fashion, that's how you'd like it to be? Sorry, when it comes to the US, you are clueless most of the time.

    Thanks Boludo for publishing the correct statistics.


  14. Boludo,
    A parragraph I was preparing got lost. Just some points: perhaps they are not the very poorest, but then it shows how low the average in the USA is for OECD standards (which would also agree with studies on school levels in OECD countries).
    I very much doubt those stats. When I hear - from US outlets- US soldiers speaking, it makes me wonder. Perhaps Astera is right: it's something in the water.

    The US has most of the top universities but they are not the averag. Most of its countless "universities" are churning out titles for national and international consumption still based on a myth: the power the US used to be (it is still a power, but we all know it is getting stuck).

    Among other things I saw in that link you mentioned: they were using the median income for the county of the recruited to calculate their income. That is not correct, no matter how many counties they choose.

    And CNN and NYT are lefty and anti-US for you? I very seldom follow news from the US, even if I do at least to have an idea about what you see and what you ignore.
    I don't take any single news outlet for completely true. I take a bit from here and there, mostly in other languages than English or Spanish. What about you?

  15. Europe definitely has a greater interest in in Libya than its small amount of oil; but for NATO's sake I hope this thing doesn't drag on too much longer or it could prove embarrassing, even disastrous. Chavez must be watching everything going on here, Syria and other places with avid interest, and constantly raising the bar on the estimated amount of genocide he COULD get away with if he needed...Kepler, please stop referring to 'US Americans'; other nationalities don't require that appellation, but are quite happy to refer to one another as Mexicans, Canadians, Venezuelans, Puerto Ricans, etc.

  16. Lybia is indeed an embarrasement, but so is Afghanistan. OTAN has shown its limits and I think it is time to reasses strategies. A little bit of consistency could help.


    When US Americans find a name for themselves that isn't already used for something else, I will call them with that word. You can call yourself whatever you want.
    English speakers hadn't arrived to what is now the States when the whole double continent was called America. Mexicans, Canadians, Chileans, Venezuelans and many more are Americans. US Americans are just a group of Americans.

    The first time the name America was used it was for the areas Amerigo Vespucci visited. Pretending you are the only ones who are Americans is like someone in Africa pretending they are the only Africans and the rest are X Africans, East Africans or whatever, or Germans saying they are Europeans and the rest are not.

    It's about time the US, Britain and continental Europe reasses what they can do and not do and stop thinking they can call the shots for good. Playing fair for more than every second week and living up to their demands on others would help.

    End of discussion from me.

  17. Charly9:05 AM

    All of that is just another sign that NATO, a relic from the cold war has lived way past its usefulness and that the tax money would be better spent elsewhere.Afghanistan? Leave it to Iran and Pakistan, it would teach them right.

  18. Anonymous11:57 AM

    I get my news from the Alabama Redneck Gazette (they don’t lie) and for my favorite song: click here
    Btw, haven’t I heard Chavez making the same statement regarding Americans? Yes, I did, I did – must be a made in socialism thing, hold it, no, my mom just told me it’s the radical left that can’t stand it that we call ourselves Americans (she was in Germany, btw, and they call us Amerikaner there – go figure).

  19. Kepler,

    Keep it simple.We Americans do not tell other people what they should call themselves and we don't accept that others do so for us either.If you want to call yourself American that is perfectly fine with me and I am sure for my fellow Americans as well.If someone is unclear they can ask( American from the US or from some other place?) and I am sure they will get an honest answer.Nobody is going to listen to this nosnsense so you if you insist you will just be knocking yourself out for no reason.Seriously :)


  20. Firegette,

    Martin here is telling me not to call you US Americans.
    I told him: I call US Americans the way I want and that is US Americans, they can do whatever they want. I wrote the reasons: America is a continent, not a country. If they find an original name for themselves I call them like that. It is indeed a political position, althought it has nothing to do with left-right, something that Mike does not seem to grasp.

  21. Kepler: Seems an extremely petulent thing to make up your own nomenclature, and use it in defiance of 99.99% of the rest of the world. Now are you going to break your promise and get the last word in again!?

  22. Martin and Kepler

    I really did not want to enter that discussion but both of you have hit on a pet peeve of mine.

    Kepler is right that the self exclusive use of "American" for US citizen is wrong. But he is wrong in using "US American" instead. And Martin is wrong in thinking it normal to call himself American as other call themselves Canadian.

    To clarify the situation there is a single continent called America, from Bering to Ushuaia. Any other "division" is a subdivision with as much "continental" validity as calling Scandinavia "Northern Europe" or Pakistan to Singapore a sub continent. If really we were wanting to create two continents based on geological evidence, there would be one from Panama to Bering including the Caribbean, and the other occupying the rest. Thus any "American" self appellation would have to include everyone from Canada to Panama, and every island until Grenada (Trinidad is on the other tectonic plate).

    The problem comes two fold: an insufficiency in the English language to create an appropriate word for citizens of the United States, and the arrogance of these ones whose motto is one country under God and such stuff.

    Other languages do not have such problems or found acceptable ways to deal with the issue.

    In Spanish the term "estadodunidense" is perfectly acceptable and is much less of a tongue twister than a foreigner might think at first.

    Spanish and French also have developed the term "north american" into "norteamericano" or "nordamericain" which are perfectly acceptable and given the right context clearly indicate the people and the government of the United States. This is possible becasue historically in each country the mark of Mexico and Canada (Quebec) is culturally very strong and it makes it easier to disambiguate the word "north american" in favor of the US.

    The reason why "American" is used by some as identifying only the US is double: mental laziness and/or arrogance. It has been a life long battle of mine, a losing one anyway but I shall not surrender, to explain that as a Venezuelan citizen I have equal right to use the word "American" as a resident of Podunk, Alabama. In this blog you will notice that the use of the word American is almost always accompanied by another adjective, such as government (there no government for the Americas so it has to be the US I am referring to) or North, or of course "United States of". In 95% of the cases when I use America or its derivatives standing alone it means the continent. And note that it is natural for me as I also apply such distinctions in my every day speech, EVEN when in the US. Actually, the more so there :)

    As for "US American" it is unacceptable for me as it conveys a racial or cultural elements that are inadequate to use to when referring to a political division. It has actually the contrary effect to the one sought originally. Words to define geographical positions must be carved out of proper geographic terms inasmuch as possible.

  23. Kepler-

    Somewhere above 60% of the USA gets it in their drinking water, as opposed to 100% of Venezuela, where it's in the table salt.

    Anonymous Mike-

    Silly dig at organic agriculture; shows how little you know. GMOs have recently gotten much, much worse press than an unfounded allegation against some bean sprouts. How about "GMO Pesticide Found in Pregnant Women and Infants" from Canada around ten days ago? How about Prof Huber's recent letter to the USDA about the pathogen in GMO crops? How about glyphosate known since the 1980s to cause birth defects? Or "India Celebrates While Monsanto Burns"? The huge failure of South Africa's GMO corn crop last year?

    There is no way the GMO crops are even competitive in a tough situation, as they require massive inputs of chemicals while yielding less than conventional crops. Nor do the seed sellers like Monsanto allow farmers to save seeds, they must buy them every year. Doesn't sound like a very good survival strategy in the long run, but maybe you all can invade Mexico and steal their food, that might work.


    Here on Margarita, when someone asks me where I'm from I generally answer desde los estados unidos and they reply "ah, americano". While in school in the US I was taught that claiming one was from the United States was incorrect, as there is also a United States of Brazil. On the other hand, who, where, doesn't know what an American is and where they are from? It's hopeless.

    One more for Kepler: I'm still not buying the Amerigo Vespucci etymology. a mejica makes a lot more sense.

    You didn't read or hear that on CNN or Fox.

  24. Charly7:58 PM

    Where I come from, they have solved the issue a long time ago. Those South of the border and North of Rio Grande are called Yanks, the rest, they either live in Cancun or Varadero. We do not know what their name is, only that they make good piña colada.

  25. Sorry Daniel but you are also incorrect when you say:

    "Kepler is right that the self exclusive use of "American" for US citizen is wrong"

    If we are exclusive
    (not admitting of something else) then we would be insisting on others not calling themselves Americans which is not the case.I doubt if very many folks here in the US would object to what anyone wants to call themselves.I mean that would really be quite an absurdity in lieu of our general way of thinking.

    This fallacy is typical of the LA fantasies which places itself as victim and not as creator of its own destiny( totally false) which in turn leads to retrograde governments in the end.

  26. Anonymous11:08 AM


    I think that Daniel bases himself on geographical terminology.


  27. I was a little facetious towards Kepler in my entry above. Sorry for that.
    Daniel, you are right that the semantics of the term 'American' is more complicated. Of course there is an entire continent or landmass called America or "the Americas", and it is perfectly right that any inhabitant of that should be called American. We talk about native or indigenous Americans, or American plant species, for example, without any problem.
    This meaning, however, is entirely distinct from the other one, designating a citizen of the United States. This latter term also has universal usage and as such deserves equal consideration, however much some people may or may not like it. I don't think it evolved out of either arrogance or laziness; it simply evolved, like any other term of national identity. It is used equally by people who profess to hate the United States and all it stands for; it is still 'the Americans' that they condemn.
    The context, of course, always makes it clear which meaning is intended. Words with several meanings like this are not unusual in English. It is unfortunate perhaps that this one has the potential to bruise some sensibilities. But that does not mean that it is something that is going to go away.

  28. This comment has been removed by the author.

  29. Juancho,

    "Thus any "American" self appellation would have to include everyone from Canada to Panama, and every island until Grenada (Trinidad is on the other tectonic plate)."

    This is why it is correct in terms of geography for anyone within these boundaries to call themselves Americans.

    The fact that Venezuelans do not wish to call themselves so, is not a problem. The fact that US citizens DO wish to do so is also not a problem :)If someone is unclear about the specific nationality of any American, he can ask, and he shall receive.Quite simple really.

    Is it the most efficient or quickest way of determining the nationality of someone...No , it is not.Is it wrong? Of course not.


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