Monday, September 17, 2012

Middle East: The Imposing Agenda (Monday LINKS)

Despite both Presidential candidates hardly acknowledging that we are at war, the Middle East and radical Islam has imposed itself on the election conversation this week, and for the foreseeable future.  It will become much more difficult to exclusively talk about jobs and the economy when for the first time since 1979 a U.S. Ambassador was murdered on foreign soil.  While the United States public is generally deaf to matters of foreign relations, we are not likely to turn a blind eye to this kind of violence, particularly when it is predicted to boil over into something worse.

First things first, domestic production of oil is not the solution, or even a reasonable suggestion, here.  Our heavy involvement in the Middle East is grounded in the production of oil (hence why we do not seem to care as much about oppression or "freedom" in other parts of the world).  But oil is a global commodity of finite production.  Presuming that increased domestic production will create "oil independence" is like thinking that increased corporate profits will encourage domestic job growth.  Do you think international oil conglomerates have some patriotic allegiance to the United States?  The biggest oil disaster relate to domestic production was performed by none other than British Petroleum (to the extent one can prescribe a Country to such a company whatsoever).  If there is some crisis in the Middle East impeding production or transportation, increased domestic production may ease the shock to the economy, but only so far at is eases the shock for the entire world. 

Second, brute force is similarly irrelevant.  You cannot resolve socioeconomic based violence with an atom bomb.  I was disappointed to see that the President notified Congress, pursuant to the War Powers Resolution, that he would be sending troops to Libya.  Admittedly, they are being sent for "security purposes only", but it would be hard to see this as anything other than escalation.  The alternative was a full scale withdrawal (or as critics would call it "retreat") from the Country, which puts into question how much politics are playing into our geopolitical game-board. 

Finally, the United States, this President, and Mitt Romney, need to design predictable foreign policy platforms for the Middle East. Our Country's safety and prosperity are wrapped up in this cradle of civilization.  For the previous two administrations, for good or bad, Middle East actors knew what the United States's response would be for their actions.  President Clinton took an admirable, and tragically historic, approach to peace in the Middle East, with all other incentives and deterrents related thereto.  President Bush, and the neoconservative think tank under his administration, applied the "One Percent Doctrine" that put U.S. safety and security atop the pyramid of concerns, crossing lines of sovereignty and bilateralism as they may.  This President has not allowed for such certainty.  In the absence of a defined U.S. approach to the Middle East, we have seen the good and the bad.  Oppressive regimes informally bolstered by the United States have fallen while unfriendly elements promoted by democracy have moved in to take their place. 

That's ok.  What concerns me is that this is all entirely unintentional.  We are witnesses to the Middle East where we used to be actors.  And I hate to be so simplistic as to refer to an entire region in such a way, but there are certain elements that are emerging in uniformity.  How will we approach them?  A comprehensive foreign policy will not become apparent before the election in 2012, but the President does have an opportunity to show an intentional coordinated response to the activity in Libya and Egypt.  Mitt Romney has the opportunity to critique those actions, hopefully by doing more than calling our President an apologist for actions of simple diplomacy.  Foreign policy has been ignored up until now.  It no longer will allow such arrogance.


So the Ravens game didn't go the way we wanted, but the O's held off a sweep, beating the A's to stay within 1 game of the AL East and emerging one game further ahead of the Rays.  Meanwhile, the LA Angels have swapped in as our closest challenger for the Wild Card at 2.5 games back.  The Orioles go to Seattle for a very winnable series against the Mariners, who sport the league's worst batting average.

The NIH is battling a super-bug that has killed seven people.  Some people are afraid of spiders.  I am afraid of super-bugs that are resistant to antibiotics.

As could have been predicted, the classification of pit bulls as "inherently dangerous" and applying strict liability for any injury caused by such animals, has caused some housing organizations to ban these pets and threatened eviction for those who refuse to comply.  This is heart-breaking.  Most dog owners would just as well give up a child as giving up their dog, especially for low income individuals that have little else in life.  Meanwhile, this could have been addressed in Special Session when our legislators were more than happy to unleash gambling interests on our State.

Featured Blog Post of the Day: MM takes a look at CA salaries and fires some shots over the bow of the Alliance for a Better Columbia.  I hope that whatever interest in seeing individualized salaries for Staff members was served upon disclosure.  The salaries of CA's highest earners have been disclosed for years in our tax documents, but evidently that was not enough. 

The birthday fundraiser is still on!  Please consider contributing to Laurel Advocacy and Resource Services.  They provide critical work for our most vulnerable and least powerful neighbors.  I certainly understand if you feel over-tapped over the past year after we raised $5,000 only two months ago, but just remember -- there is a big difference between a Monday in which you donate towards ending homelessness than a Monday where you just go to work.

That's all for today.  Have a great Monday doing what you love!