Enlightened Conflict

75000 dollars (and the haves and have nots)

October 17th, 2015

rich people paying rich people

“…. the very rich are different from you and me.”

F Scott Fitzgerald

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“… it is not easy for men to rise whose qualities are thwarted by poverty.”

Juvenal

<55 AD-127 AD>

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“… the doctrine of enlightened “self-interest rightly understood” was a part of America’s DNA from its founding.”

Reflections on Alexis de Tocqueville

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Ok.

 

 

This is kind of about the haves and have-nots … but mostly it is a reflection upon how the wealthy have little, or no, link to the reality of what everyday schmucks like me <non wealthy> think or feel.

 

 

That said.

 

The fact that an NBA star spent $75,000 for a ‘5 day get away’ made me sit back and shake my head saying to myself “… and wealthy people wonder why no god nooooothe everyday schmuck like me gets aggravated over the whole wealthy & inequality discussion?”

 

 

Set aside any herb Viagra drug discussion or the fact the getaway was at a brothel <both legal> because what a person wants to do in their personal time is their choice <whether I agree with it or not> … this is about $75,000 spent on one long weekend.

 

 

I have earned some very nice annual salaries in my past but this is the kind of money I cannot grasp even thinking about past salaries I had.

 

The most I maybe spent was 10% of this amount on a week long trip to Europe … and I didn’t part with that money casually.

 

 

Think about the fact that $75,000 out of pocket is a family of 4 who earns maybe $120,000 annually <taking out taxes & social security & deductions to get back to the $75,000 real cash on hand annually>.

 

 

Think about the fact that $75,000 out of pocket maybe allows one of my best friends to partially help pay for his 3 kid’s college degrees.

 

 

I think about $75,000 out of pocket to me <and pretty much any of my friends & acquaintances> … well … I cannot fathom how my life would be lived differently if I had it. Suffice it to say … it would be easier and I wouldn’t be plunking it down for one weekend of ‘getting away.’

 

 

And, coincidentally with regard to this $75k, according to a study <conducted by psychologist Daniel Kahneman and economist Angus Deaton> on Americans and how they evaluate their happiness, a salary of $75,000 a year is the magic number after which people’s day-to-day happiness no longer improves. According to their numbers, you won’t be any happier on a day-to-day basis if you’re making $75,000 or $750,000—though you’ll likely feel like you’ve got a better life overall.

My point?

With all due respect to someone who almost died … this jerk spent $75,000 on a 5 day getaway.

To circle back to Alexis de Tocqueville … self interest rightly understood this is not.

 

 

Look.

 

 

I do not begrudge people earning money.

 

I do not begrudge wealth.

 

I do not begrudge vacations and ‘needing to get away.’

 

 

On the other side of this discussion …  nor do I believe an ‘entitled mentality’ benefits any culture … let alone benefits the self-esteem & self-actualization of individuals. Working for something and getting it, or being fairly rewarded, creates better people psychologically.

 

 

But what I do know is that a culture with a healthy fairly distributed structure of wealth dream big and pass alongdistribution <low to high> creates a healthy economy and mindset. Research has shown again and again a natural distribution of wealth encourages people to work hard and achieve fair compensation for their efforts <and permits people to dream and also establish what they want in their minds as well as find some level of what they feel comfortable with>.

 

 

But I also know that research consistently shows that when wealth inequality reaches absurd scale it is detrimental to attitudes & behaviors <which inhibit economic growth and foster bad attitudes>.

 

 

Yeah.

$75,000 on one weekend.

 

 

I do want to bitch about the really rich today and wealth inequality.

 

 

But I’m not going to bludgeon people with statistics because I am fairly sure most of us have the gist of the issue.

 

 

I will point out two key wealth inequality thoughts:

 

 

 

– The growing gap between the poor and rich is a global phenomenon. According to Oxfam, the richest 1% have seen their share of global wealth increase from 44% in 2009 to 48% in 2014 and are on track to own more than the other 99% by 2016.

 

 

 

– In US, over the last three decades, the wealth owned by the top 0.1% households increased from 7% to 22% even as the wealth of the bottom 90% of households declined.

 

 

 

And I will also point out that even though I earned a good salary in the past <nowhere near some of these high numbers> I struggle to believe I can put myself into the shoes, let alone the minds, of the super wealthy. Shit. I am fairly sure 99.9% of us cannot.

 

 

I said that as a preface to me saying that I recognize that wealth or not … they have their issues & problems too.

 

 

I was reminded of this when I saw that some NYC therapist discussed the problems he discusses with his super rich clientele:

 

 

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“If you are part of the 1%, you still have problems and they are legitimate to you. Even when you say: ‘I don’t have to struggle for money’, there are other parts of your life.

Money is not the only thing that defines you. Your problems are legitimate.”

Clay Cockrell therapist to the 1%

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Here is the thing.

 

 

choosing shit

 

Although the 1% of the 1% have problems … they still have choices because of their wealth.

 

 

The 99.9% have no such choice … they just have to get on with getting on with it.

 

 

This makes me suggest that it’s not really the wealth that bothers me … it’s the way that money is spent.

 

 

Ok.

 

And also maybe the fact that systems, and a world, originally conceived to serve everyone and give everyone a fair chance … can be ‘bought into’, redesigned and develop its own set of rules to favor not only the needs of the wealthy … and, maybe the worst, is being reconstructed for the protection of wealth and the wealthy.

 

 

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My luck was accentuated by my living in a market system that sometimes produces distorted results, though overall it serves our country well. I’ve worked in an economy that rewards someone who saves the lives of others on a battlefield with a medal, rewards a great teacher with thank-you notes from parents, but rewards those who can detect the mispricing of securities with sums reaching into the billions.

In short, fate’s distribution of long straws is wildly capricious.

Warren Buffett

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Simplistically … more wealth begets more wealth.

 

 

In it’s most sneaky way it does it in a way I call the double down of being wealthy.

 

 

What I mean is that the more money you have the more additional free shit you get <and, worse, wealthy people feel they are entitled to these things … uhm … yeah … I called it ‘entitlement’>.

 

 

Poor people … shit … everyday people … would be shocked if they knew all the perks rich people get simply for being rich.

 

 

Forget the tax breaks and loopholes a wealthy person has access to maintain their wealth.

 

 

 

Rich people often get paid to wear jewelry.

 

 

They get paid to lose weight.

 

 

They’re given free laptops and TVs.

 

 

They get ‘comped’ rooms or upgrades that eliminate expenses.

 

 

They get expense report reimbursements.

bullshit no way

 

 

The most ludicrous is when the celebrity wealthy get gift bags just for attending big award shows, bags filled with “goodies” worth $20,000 — which is more than a full-time minimum wage worker earns in a year.

 

 

 

Inequality has an even uglier side.

 

 

It’s pretty obvious to state that having more money affords you more food, more clothes, more housing, and more “stuff.”

 

 

But the richest families actually spend less on food, clothes, housing, and cars than the poorest families as a share of their income. The real difference between the rich and the poor is that the rich spend a larger share of their much larger income on insurance, education, and, when you analyze the housing component, mortgages—all of which are directly related to building wealth and preserving wealth.

 

 

 

The richest 10% spend much less of their income on food.

 

The richest 10% spend much more of their income on insurance <and relatively more than all but the very poorest on education>.

 

 

This means that when you have money you actually spend less on the stuff that ensures you survive and more on the stuff that ensures that you <and your children, possessions, and wealth> survive and thrive.

 

 

Poverty … shit … even income-stressed … means no future … only a Life lived in the present tense.

 

 

While we, who have money, can suggest those with less money should work harder, be smarter and look to the future … reality dictates that the anxiety of having no money all the time forces poorer families to keep focused on immediate needs & concerns.

 

 

Bottom line?

 

 

The poor spend relatively more on what will keep them alive.

 

 

The wealthy spend more on what will keep them rich.

 

 

This leads me to address the “big” issue.

 

Fairness.

Or what some people call “redistribution” <which I do not>.

 

It is admittedly a tricky discussion.

 

It can quickly devolve into a socialist type discussion. But it is not.

 

 

It is as simple, and complex, as fairness. And I mean fairness not in wealth distribution but rather social mobility.

 

 

Since 1980 America has been experiencing a significant increase in income inequality. In 1980 the top 5% represented 16.5% of total national income and the bottom 40percent represented 14.4percent. By 2008 the 16.5 was 21.5 and the 14.4 dropped to 12%.

 

Suffice it to say the distribution worsens when you look at wealth rather than income.

 

 

Attach that to the fact that the United States ranks worst among major economies in social <upward> mobility. Yup. America now lags behind many European countries in the rate of upward mobility <so much for the “land of opportunity” concept>.

 

 

Basically the lower end of the middle class truly is getting, and had gotten, royally screwed.

 

Those with just a high-school degree or less have seen their relative earnings sink.

 

odds 1 richAnd over the past decade those who attended college but did not earn a degree have also seen their earnings sink.

 

Incomes at the top, meanwhile, rose significantly during the whole period.
The result was a dramatic divergence in fortunes.

 

 

Please note … this is about capitalism … and it isn’t.

 

 

Increasing income inequality is certainly a reflection of a broader transformation in how capitalism is transforming itself in the 21st century.

 

 

While capitalism has certainly offered tremendous benefits – it has helped increased standard of living as well as lift hundreds of millions of people out of poverty in the emerging markets and provided cheaper, and new, goods and services to everyone – it has also hollowed out the incomes and wealth of the American lower-to-mid middle class.

 

All the while the rich at the very top got richer.

 

 

Here is my main factoid.

 

 

The inequality can mainly be reflected in the fact that only 40% of American neighborhoods now have an average income within 20% of the national median … compared with 60% in the 1970s.

 

 

There are consequences on society <beyond just making people angry>.

 

Now … one could start asking me what is creating this deep lack of social mobility.

 

 

Well.

 

Think of something called ‘opportunity hoarding.’

 

 

Some guy named Matthew O’Brien wrote about “opportunity hoarding,” the idea that rich people are talented at doing all the right things you need to stay rich and make sure your kids get rich, too. Rich couples live in richer districts, read more to their kids, send them to better schools, hook them up with better internships, slide them into better entry-level jobs (or, better yet, into the family business), and finally pass down their insured and well invested wealth. Even education, the great American equalizer, makes for a poor equalizer. And it’s not only because wealthy teenagers are more likely to go to school. Young people born to rich families who don’t go to college are 2.5 times more likely to end up in the richest quartile than young people born to poor families who do go college.

 

 

 

But the real point with opportunity hoarding is that the wealthy, looking at the widening gap between the haves & the have nots, are more inclined to do whatever it takes to protect themselves from falling INTO that gap.

 

They hoard their opportunities as well as their wealth, therefore, others cannot shift into the space because it is blocked out.

 

 

 

Look.

 

The reality is that the market isn’t so good at making sure that the wealth that’s produced is being distributed fairly or wisely. Some of that wealth has to be reinvested back into education, so that the next generation has a fair chance, economy hey lookand reinvested into our infrastructure <which makes the economy efficient>, and provide some sort of safety net for those who lose out in a market economy.

 

 

Aw shit.

 

 

I didn’t want to rant about inequality … I wanted to rant about the absurd view the wealthy seem to have with regard to the world.

 

 

The super-rich have some absurdly distorted ideas about the world. They are, on more than average, to believe their achievements are the product of their superior brains and hard work.

 

 

Regardless.

 

 

When you end up talking about inequality and haves and have nots it becomes a convoluted passionate discussion.

 

 

The divide between the haves and the have-nots is nothing new in America, but in recent decades that gap has been getting wider as the middle class shrinks and the very richest Americans keep getting richer.

 

Look.

 

 

Inequality and ‘economic growth’ are inextricably tied … but maybe in the wrong way.

 

 

We’ve all been effectively told, and sold, that endless growth is essential to maintain and improve our quality of life.

This is not only absurd it also couldn’t be further from the truth.

 

 

We seem to forget that after World War 2 worldwide competition was relatively nonexistent therefore US companies could afford to pay average workers – with average skills – above-average wages, complete with pensions.

 

 

In addition the GI Bill got “single-family home ownership” started for the everyday working people. Before WWII single-family home ownership was not something the average common person strived for let alone even thought was possible.

 

 

These two factors created the largest middle class ever created. Affordable, one-family homes were built everywhere and millions of people all of a sudden had “good jobs” and were able to afford these houses being built.
Yes.
Average people working on assembly lines, doing fairly simple work, were making house buying money.

 

 

Oops.

 

And then the natural evolution of ‘if I have this I should be working toward this’ attitude kicked in <psychologically called ‘hedonistic adaptation’>.

 

 

Not only did we get used to owning a home we got used to a higher standard of living and we got used to ‘moving up the economic ladder.’

 

 

We were NOT used to finding comfort and staying at that comfort level.

 

We have come to accept moving up should be the one constant in our lives.

 

THIS is what we are always looking to go back to.

 

Just think about that for a second.

 

The average blue collar worker … the one with a high school diploma putting a nut on a bolt all day making enough to buy a house, two cars, yearly vacation, and dinner out every week … is that possible in today’s world? Is that even realistic?

 

 

We can talk about CEO pay, the 1%, and corporations all we want but maybe a part of it is that the good old days of average people living above-average lives are over.

 

 

I say that but I also want to remind everyone about some of these average everyday people.

 

poor and poverty

And we seem to forget as we look at the $75000 weekenders that the billion dollar profits that McDonald’s make are mostly created by the ‘burger flippers’ and NOT the shareholder. Yup. The real wealth creators are the ones who work long grinding hours <these are the people who are also living in the ‘present tense’ with regard to money>.

 

 

We sometimes seem to forget that even if everybody had a PhD we still need garbage men, plumbers and sewer workers. All of whom most certainly contribute more to society than say wall street speculators who make money off of making money <not making anything or doing anything>.

 

 

We seem to forget as we bitch & moan about subsidizing low-paid workers with food stamps and other ‘entitlement’ initiatives that our anger is directed at those who actually work 10 hours 6 days a week trying to make ends meet and sustain a family … rather than the companies and wall street groups that rake in billions of dollars.

 

 

We seem to forget about those things so well that we then decide to focus on people who do have wealth and go out of our way to protect it for them <because they earned it>.

 

 

 

Look.

 

 

I read somewhere that the True Measure of Any Society can be found in how it treats its most vulnerable members.

 

 

And when I think about that I start thinking about the utterly despicable, self-absorbed actions of those who spend $75,000 on a long weekend.

 

 

I want a world of the future which will value real skills … and real morality.

 

 

In the end.

 

 

While there is certainly a higher moral road … the basic road business walks is ‘produce something and make money from it’ and that is the same basic road for a healthy society.

 

 

Wall Street makes wealth from wealth.

 

 

The everyday schmuck makes wealth from doing something.

 

 

That has to count for something … doesn’t it?

 

 

Only a sense of shared social sacrifice in the pursuit of ‘what makes this country great’ will generate the progress we need and desire.

 

 

When I see a headline that someone paid $75,000 for a long weekend <as I stare at my $136 electricity bill> I recognize today’s world is relentlessly driven and categorized by money. I know it shouldn’t be but I would have to be delusional to not recognize this.

 

 

We live n a world where if you do not earn and spend conspicuously you are failing.capitalism poor with money

 

 

We use material things as a substitute for feelings and hopes <why else would you go to a brothel for $75,000 or have a $25 million mansion for just you and your spouse>.

 

 

Our culture seemingly has a price tag for every dream.

 

 

Sure.

 

I can feel compassion for the super-rich. They got problems too.

 

 

But if I got 99 problems I can guarantee you the 1 thing that would help resolve most of them would be $75,000 <and most of hte 99.9% would be raising their hand saying ‘hallelujah’ right with me> .

 

 

 

So please forgive me if I feel slightly less than compassionate when I see wealthy people spending $75,000 for one weekend of fun to ‘get away.’

 

 

“Self interest rightly understood.” $75,000 for a long weekend <at a brothel>.

 

Someone somewhere has lost sight of what is reality.

who hates who in middle east

October 19th, 2014

conflict enlightened

“One of the enduring problems with certain societies in the world – and this is certainly true of a lot of places in the Middle East – is that the capacity for self-governance and self-organizing just isn’t there. It has to do with history.”

 

“Everybody in the Middle East wants to explain why they’re right.”

=

P.J. O’Rourke

 

 

Ok.

 

If you live in America you tend to believe any and all of these things:

 

–          Everyone in the Middle East hates America more than anyone else

 

–          Muslims hate Christians more than anyone else

 

–          We can protect ourselves from terrorists in the Middle East by doing something in the Middle East

 

–          The Middle East is made up of one big Muslim war mongering horde under the guise of multiple borders with some country names

 

–          The Middle East is representative of a new conflict driven by recent foreign policy decisions

 

 

Shit.

 

I could keep writing but my head is beginning to hurt.

 

While I think about this topic a lot I do not write often about it because the Middle East is so complex and has so many historical aspects that it can get frustrating to try and make sense of a relatively confusing intertwined issue.

 

And then I came across this amazing infographic of “who hates whom in the middle east”:

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http://www.fastcodesign.com/3035595/infographic-of-the-day/who-hates-whom-in-the-middle-east?partner=ps02101rss

=

 

Well.

 

I imagine my main thought to share is that while we Americans like to believe the world revolves around us … it doesn’t.

 

Sometimes <simply because we are the biggest & typically most proactively involved nation>.

 

But most times not.

 

So.

 

I will close after viewing the infographic one more time by answering the beliefs I began with:

 

Hugh McLeod popularity

Hugh McLeod popularity

–          America is not the most hated in the Middle East.

 

 

 

–          Muslims actually hate some other Muslims more than they hate America.

 

 

–          We cannot protect America from terrorist activity by doing something in the Middle East. Why? Because every time we do something it gives others in the area the opportunity to use America as a ‘reason for being.’ By the way … that goes for any non-Muslim country.

 

Separately.

 

The idea a country of 300+million can stop one terrorist or a small group of terrorists dedicated to doing something … is ludicrous. The implication behind that is we will always be smarter than the other guys. The ‘other side’ has smart people too. Bad people with focused intentions to do bad things are very difficult to stop.

 

Sadly … they will win on occasion.

 

 

–          The Middle East is a complex mix of countries with varying government structures within a religion that does not separate ‘church & state.’ Their religion is integral to their governing.

Also.

Americans like lines. Lines as in borders. It gives us some sense of order and ways to judge who is in the right and who is in the wrong. In some places in the Middle East borders, these lines we like so much, are sometimes blurry if not arbitrary. We need to remember, particularly in the Middle East, that countries are defined more often by ideas and not by borders.

 

 

–          The most recent conflict in the middle east was not created by America <which the thought America “created this” is actually such an arrogant pompous thought it makes those in the middle east even grumpier> foreign policy … our foreign policy may have stifled the conflict on occasion or exacerbated the conflict on occasion but the conflict has existed since before America ever existed. Our only true failing, with good intentions, was that as a new country with a fresh ideology we believed we could resolve the ongoing gg answers are everywhereconflict.

And in failing to do so <as anyone would have failed> we failed to step back but instead have not accepted the failure and have continuously tried to course correct <with ongoing zig zags of positive & negative effects of which our political pundits pick & choose the aspects they want to pontificate over>.

 

 

That’s it.

My Middle East rant for the month.

 

If you want to view my favorite Middle East post here you go:

http://brucemctague.com/a-new-map-of-the-middle-east

 

independence, ideals, celebration … pride of being American

July 4th, 2014

USA American soccer fan face paint from USA photo by Monte Isom

——–

“I don’t believe there’s any problem in this country, no matter how tough it is, that Americans, when they roll up their sleeves, can’t completely solve.”

——-

Americans have a way of doing things ‘big.’ We are vocal and loud-ish and unequivocally … well … American.

 

4th of July is a perfect example.
For some time before I traveled and met others from around the world … I was convinced that every country had an Independence Day that they celebrated with the same gusto <if not fierceness> as America does.
But at some point I realized this isn’t the norm everywhere.

 

That isn’t to say that most countries don’t celebrate <or at least acknowledge> their independence day <for example … a place like Finland celebrates its independence from Russia> … it’s just that no one seems to do it as bombastically as we Americans.

 

Look.

 

There’s nothing wrong with patriotism.
And certainly there’s nothing wrong with independence <and celebrating it>.

 

Independence is an ideal.

 

Ideals often don’t live up to their expectations when faced with reality … but that doesn’t make it any less powerful

 

Ideals are ideas.

Ideals are hope.

Ideals are a vision.

Ideals are … well … frustrating.

 

If you have ever personally sought the ‘ideal weight’ <not to diminish freedom & independence … just to personalize the discussion> you know that progress never comes as fast as you desire, you make mistakes, you have setbacks … you have successes … and the moment you take your eye off the ‘ideal’ you lose Belgium vs USAprogress if not slip backwards a little.

 

Living with an ideal in mind is difficult.

 

Hopeful but difficult.

 

Using my metaphor … think of it as 317 million people stepping onto 317 million different scales 365 days of the year … evaluating their ideal weight against the ideal weight the country bears.

 

Not everyone is going to be happy. Some people will be frustrated. some will quit. some will shrug. some will soldier on. some will swear. some will cry.

 

But.

 

All of the somes, the sum total, will get back on that frickin’ scale again the next day … and if not the next … the day after that. That is what we do. That is what we are.

 

And you know what?

 

That is independence. And that is the ideal we measure ourselves and our country against.

 

The bar is high.

But we Americans aim high.

 

Suffice it to say I am grateful for the country I grew up in and the freedoms we have in America that we often take for granted.

 

And I do not subscribe to the theory of blind patriotism that some people suggest follow along with holidays like the Fourth.

I do not because I believe it is on days like this we are reminded of the work in progress ideal we strive for … and our founders strove for.

 

We are reminded, sometimes painfully, of the work in progress aspects.

 

But we are also reminded of … well … independence. And everything good that comes along with it.

 

And in thinking about it … and the value it has to our souls and hearts … and the fact we know we have flaws and are still , sometimes sluggishly, working towards that ideal … we are self-conscious in our Americanism.

———

“It is, I think, an indisputable fact that Americans are, as Americans, the most self- conscious people in the world, and the most addicted to the belief that the other nations are in a conspiracy to under-value them.”
Henry James

———–

I have seen someone call this self consciousness … self pity.

I don’t.

 

And I would argue until my last breath it has nothing to do with pity or any ‘woe is me’ attitude.

 

I would say it has something to do with that ‘high bar’ I stated earlier.

 

I would say that having earned independence we have assumed and responsibility to an ideal. And it is an ideal that is most likely truly unattainable <as most ideals are>. And as Americans who like to complete, do and succeed … we are self-conscious about the fact we are still working our way toward that ideal.

 

 

But.

 

Yes … but … on this day … we celebrate the ideal.

 

And you know what? That is a big deal.

 

And we do it big.

Many people in other countries do not seem to understand patriotism the way Americans celebrate the 4th.

 

They see it as our typical over the top celebration of pride.

 

 

Yes.

We have parades to celebrate America and being American.

 

Yes.how to be an explorer
We have spectacular firework extravaganzas that everyone goes to.

 

Yes.
We have massive parties that entire towns attend.

 

Yes.
Sometimes we go a little wacko with the red, white & blue.
But that is because we look at America differently than others may look at their own countries.

I am not suggesting it better or worse .. just … different.

 

We celebrate our ideal.

And unlike some other countries who feel like they embody their ‘ideal’ … we do … and we don’t.

 

We know we have an ideal … but have not reached the ideal state.

In fact … on the 4th … oddly we are celebrating our flaws.

 

And I wish we Americans would say that more often.

Celebrate our flaws.

 

Because in doing so we admit we are celebrating the reach … the aiming high … the place of hope.

 

Set aside the celebration aspect <which is certainly an American trait>.

The 4th is and is not about pride.
If it were solely about pride many would hesitate because we are flawed.

 

But to think the USA has more dirty laundry than other countries is … frankly … silly <and slightly absurd> … and no excuse for not being proud to be an American.

 

And we should have some pride in that we hold an ideal out for everyone … just beyond their grasp … and say ‘go get it.’
4th of July is fun.

 

america one heartbeatMillions sit around with family.

 

Millions of beer drinking guys stand and grill the shit out of everything and anything they can get their hands on.
And other millions go out and spend an hour setting things on fire.
On this day maybe 300 million people <I will allow maybe 15 million curmudgeonly unhappy tools to sit around and gripe about how bad things are and how flawed our country is> set differences aside and have some fun.

 

Fun with an ideal in mind.

——-

“Americans… are forever searching for love in forms it never takes, in places it can never be. It must have something to do with the vanished frontier.”
Kurt Vonnegut

——–

What I love about America is the searching.

Do I personally get frustrated, angry, proud, excited, disappointed and reflectively optimistic & skeptical … all at the same time … when viewing America?

Sure I do.

 

Geez. I am an American for god’s sake. I wouldn’t be American if I didn’t.

 

All that said. I am American. Unequivocally proud … and relentless with reagd to the ideal and the search.
And on the 4th …

… we celebrate the search

… we celebrate the hope

… we celebrate the ideal.

 

And we should.

 

On the other 364 days we grind it out working toward the ideal in fits & starts, and hugs & pushing away, and tears & laughter, and anger & joy, and disappointment & triumph … and failure & success.
In places it can seemingly never be … we see what could be.
And maybe that is why Americans are so damn obnoxious in their 4th of July celebration.

 

america capt am
We are celebrating what could be … not just what is.

 

A better America.

 

Well.
I would suggest the attempt to being better than what you are today is worthy of a celebration … the biggest most obnoxious darndest celebration you can have.

 

 

Happy 4th of July.

is this what people mean when they say drones

March 12th, 2014

 

obama between-two-ferns-and-it-was-amazing

“I think that’s why you’re not president … and that’s a good thing.” – Obama to Zach

 

<”I wouldn’t be here today if I didn’t have something to plug” – Obama on Between 2 Ferns>

 

Ok.

This was very funny. Seriously funny.

 

Community organizer” Barack Obama appeared on Zach Galifianakis’ web series Between Two Ferns.

 

In the six and a half minute interview Galifianakis asked Obama questions <about being “the last black president”, his birth certificate and Dennis Rodman’s trips to North Korea – “I read somewhere you would be sending Hulk Hogan to Syria – or is that more of a job for Tonya Harding?” > and traded humorous verbal harpoons with the president <getting as well as giving>.

 

Look.

 

I know the president has lots of on-camera & public speaking experience … but obama two fersn olympicsfunny is funny … and you can’t practice this sort of thing. You either have that kind of sarcastic dry wit or you don’t.

The president of the USA seems to have it.

 

 

Obama did Between Two Ferns to plug Obamacare and it is serious … and funny <that is where Zach comments about ‘drones’ as Obama drones on about affordable healthcare>.

 

Zach Galifianakis is known for the Hangover movies but his “Between Two Ferns” videos are spectacular.

 

It’s a little over 6 minutes … but a good 6 minutes.

 

Between 2 Ferns <Obama>: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZAFkauscKJ0

 

Well played President Obama.

iroquois and democracy (and the American constitution)

March 1st, 2013

Well.iriquois eagle-dollar-bill

The American Constitution is one of my favorite well written documents … so when I read in a book the idea that much of it was ‘borrowed’ from the Iroquois Indians … in fact that “we the people” was borrowed … that lit a fire under my ass to do some research.

I knew it had borrowed significantly from the ‘best of the best’ European & Greek/Roman democratic principals but I had not heard about the Iroquois.

In initial research I actually discovered a physical symbol first.

The 13 arrows <for the 13 colonies> bound together in the eagle talons.

 

–          Iroquois constitution Article 57:

Five arrows shall be bound together very strong and each arrow shall represent one nation. As the five arrows are strongly bound this shall symbolize the complete union of the nations. Thus are the Five Nations united completely and enfolded together, united into one head, one body and one mind. Therefore they shall labor, legislate and council together for the interest of future generations.

 

iriquois arrowsThe Iroquois used the arrows bound together. And they refer to ‘nations’ as we would ‘states.’

Well.

Further research showed that the committee tasked with developing the constitution struggled with how to formalize so many items being discussed into one document that would satisfy one and all. Samuel Rutledge proposed they model the new government they were forming into something along the lines of the Iroquois League of Nations which had been functioning as a democratic government for hundreds of years.

While there were many desirable  models <and aspects within> from ancient and modern histories in Western & Eastern Europe and the Middle East it seemed that the Iroquois had a system which provided a basic national/state construct to meet most of the demands espoused by the many parties to the debates.

<I did not know this>

Now.

I never did find “we the people” backed up in what writings there are concerning the ancient Iroquois.

But.

I DID find enough evidence to convince me that the Iroquois certainly influenced the drafting of the American Constitution … and we present-day Americans owe these Native Americans big thanks.

Some background on the Iroquois and their Constitution.

In about 1715, the Tuscarora Nation, once part of the Iroquois peoples in a much earlier period of their history, moved up from North Carolina to avoid warfare with the invading white settlers, and were adopted into the Confederacy. At this point in time, the Iroquois controlled many parts of our now eastern states from their homelands in what is now New York state. The original Five Nations were:

 

Mohawk: People Possessors of the Flint

Onondaga: People on the Hills

Seneca: Great Hill People

Oneida: Granite People

Cayuga: People at the Mucky Land

Tuscarora: Shirt Wearing People <became the Sixth Nation>.

 

I am including the most relevant aspects of their original Constitution <as best it can be reconstructed from legend and spoken history> which is titled: The Constitution of the Five Nations – or – The Iroquois Book of the Great Law.

Well.

It is pretty amazing. You can find close parallels to our Executive, Legislative and Judiciary branches of government as originally described in our U. S. Constitution as well as many of the ‘freedoms’ and some verbiage. In addition if you assume their Nations as our current States the parallels increase significantly. I have not included the entire thing <I believe it has close to 100 articles> but just some relevant portions that make for good reading.

Oh.

I included the first section hoping that maybe someone in our current government would read this. It is a good reminder for what should be expected of elected officials <one could only hope they would actually follow some of the thinking … sigh …. Article 27, in particular, should be posted everywhere in Washington DC>.

 

THE CONSTITUTION OF THE IROQUOIS NATIONSamerica one heartbeat

 

24. The Lords of the Confederacy of the Five Nations shall be mentors of the people for all time. The thickness of their skin shall be seven spans — which is to say that they shall be proof against anger, offensive actions and criticism. Their hearts shall be full of peace and good will and their minds filled with a yearning for the welfare of the people of the Confederacy. With endless patience they shall carry out their duty and their firmness shall be tempered with a tenderness for their people. Neither anger nor fury shall find lodgement in their minds and all their words and actions shall be marked by calm deliberation.

 

25. If a Lord of the Confederacy should seek to establish any authority independent of the jurisdiction of the Confederacy of the Great Peace, which is the Five Nations, he shall be warned three times in open council, first by the women relatives, second by the men relatives and finally by the Lords of the Confederacy of the Nation to which he belongs. If the offending Lord is still obdurate he shall be dismissed by the War Chief of his nation for refusing to conform to the laws of the Great Peace. His nation shall then install the candidate nominated by the female name holders of his family.

 

26. It shall be the duty of all of the Five Nations Confederate Lords, from time to time as occasion demands, to act as mentors and spiritual guides of their people and remind them of their Creator’s will and words.

Every Confederate Lord shall speak words to promote peace.

 

27. All Lords of the Five Nations Confederacy must be honest in all things. They must not idle or gossip, but be men possessing those honorable qualities that make true royaneh. It shall be a serious wrong for anyone to lead a Lord into trivial affairs, for the people must ever hold their Lords high in estimation out of respect to their honorable positions.

 

–          Freedom of Religion

99. The rites and festivals of each nation shall remain undisturbed and shall continue as before because they were given by the people of old times as useful and necessary for the good of men.

 

–          Rights of the People

93. Whenever a specially important matter or a great emergency is presented before the Confederate Council and the nature of the matter affects the entire body of the Five Nations, threatening their utter ruin, then the Lords of the Confederacy must submit the matter to the decision of their people and the decision of the people shall affect the decision of the Confederate Council. This decision shall be a confirmation of the voice of the people.

 

–          Rights of states <Nations>

Before the real people united their nations, each nation had its council fires. Before the Great Peace their councils were held. The five Council Fires shall continue to burn as before and they are not quenched. The Lords of each nation in future shall settle their nation’s affairs at this council fire governed always by the constitution american-flag-all-rights-reserved-by-jade-leyvalaws and rules of the council of the Confederacy and by the Great Peace.

 

–          Commander in chief: Rights and Powers of War

79. Skanawatih shall be vested with a double office, duty and with double authority. One-half of his being shall hold the Lordship title and the other half shall hold the title of War Chief. In the event of war he shall notify the five War Chiefs of the Confederacy and command them to prepare for war and have their men ready at the appointed time and place for engagement with the enemy of the Great Peace.

——–

Well.

This is good stuff. Research well worth the time I invested <the entire Constitution is fascinating in it’s detail>.

Native Americans <or Indians> not only were the original settlers in America but helped provide some of the original founding father thinking. And, frankly, some good thinking for us today if we actually were to pay attention to it.

This is continuing proof that I still have a lot to learn.

piers and ahmadinejad

September 26th, 2012

I am not a huge Piers Morgan fan <CNN> but when I saw he was going to interview Iran president Ahmadinejad I had to tune in. Heck. My site is called enlightened conflict. How could I ignore the opportunity to hear from a source of conflict and possibly gain some perspective?

Reminder 1: Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is the sixth and current President of the Islamic Republic of Iran, and the main political leader of the Alliance of Builders of Islamic Iran, a coalition of conservative political groups in the country.

Reminder 2: Some things Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has said in the past:

–          “Iranians defend and present their Islamic and Iranian identity to other people worldwide.”

–          “The wave of the Islamic revolution will soon reach the entire world.”

–          “For this reason, the expansion of relations with all countries is on the agenda of the Islamic Republic of Iran. I mean balanced relationships, based on mutual respect and observation of each other’s rights.”

–          “Anybody who recognizes Israel will burn in the fire of the Islamic nation’s fury.”

–          “Israel has reached the end of its function and will soon disappear off the geographical domain.”

–          “We’ve never been anti-Semitic.”

Reminder 3: Let me note a president is a president. I know that may sound obvious, if not silly, but it is a reminder that no matter what perception you may have from sound bites and news flashes a leader of a country is charismatic, articulate, crafty-savvy and smart. He was all of these.

Reminder 4: He fully recognized CNN represented a global communications platform. Some of his answers were not answers and almost all of his words were measured but within the entire interview you certainly gained some perspective.

That said.

Some things he said:

Ahmadinejad: We condemn ‘extremism’

Ahmadinejad: Homosexuality ‘ugly’

Ahmadinejad: Iran has right to defend itself

Ahmadinejad: ‘Very close’ with Iran Jews

Here are some of my thoughts.

–          Americans should watch this interview. Your point of view may not change but taking a moment to look at how our actions can be seen thru another’s eyes is always worth a moment or two.

I will paraphrase this thought but as he noted the American 9/11 event as a tragedy where 3000 died he immediately qualified it by asking if it justified the reaction in which Muslims dying in Iraq and Afghanistan exceeded 900,000 and almost 1.7 million injured <combatants & civilians>.

Not saying I agree it is just perspective/point of view. Just pointing out if we wonder on occasion why the Middle East may have a chip on their shoulder.

–          He reminded me of something Zbigniew Brzezinski wrote in his new book: “america needs to remember that its foreign policy is inextricably linked to domestic actions.”

Ahmadinejad said something like “the Arab spring was a reflection of the fact the middle east is in need of reform … in my eyes the entire world should be seeking to reform.” Ah. Reading between the lines …”doesn’t America need to reform?” … leading to “how dare America tell me what I can or cannot do when they can’t even keep their own house in order.” Beyond that … the implied was “would you quit talking to me about what I need to do to reform because I am not the only one who needs to.”

–          Governing within a religious construct suggests freedom with some pretty tight rules.

Some of the things he talked about (homosexuality in particular) sounded eerily like what a Christian fundamentalist would say. His answer with regard to his thoughts on homosexuality could have come straight out of the mouth of a Christian fundamentalist. I never begrudge anyone their religious beliefs and whether I agree or not with how they allow it to guide their lives I believe it is their choice. Oh.  That is called ‘freedom of choice.’ Extreme religious leadership imposes limitations on freedom of choice. My point? Individuals certainly can be guided in such a way n their own lives but an entire country creates issues <assuming 100% of the people will not agree all the time>.

–          With regard to that stupid amateur film disparaging the prophet he nailed the issue: “freedom of speech is not the same as abuse of speech.”

His words:

“Fundamentally, first of all, any action that is provocative, offends the religious thoughts and feelings of any people, we condemn, likewise, we condemn any type of extremism. Of course, what took place was ugly. Offending the Holy Prophet is quite ugly. This has very little or nothing to do with freedom and freedom of speech. This is the weakness of and the abuse of freedom, and in many places it is a crime. It shouldn’t take place, and I do hope the day will come in which politicians will not seek to offend those whom others hold holy.”

Personally I couldn’t agree with him any more on that one particular issue <not having much to do with freedom of speech>. I have written this before … freedom of speech is a responsibility. And it is also not freedom to be provocatively stupid, moronic & offensive to others’ beliefs.

Beyond that. He did not condone the violence. He walked a fine line on this topic – but I noted as I listened that I had to think hard about this. He governs within a religious construct – Iran is basically a religious state. We in America, and many nations for that matter, have elected to not govern that way. His response <in words and thoughts> is going to be different than most of ours. We see the film as a moronic example of freedom of speech. He sees the film as a religious affront. He doesn’t try to justify the reaction he simply gets aggravated we don’t understand the depths of the affront.

–          Whew. The Israel-Palestine discussion.

As a Muslim, and a Muslim leader, his perspective of self-determination skews his view to “don’t Palestinians have a right to determine their future.”

His words:

“If a group comes and occupies the United States of America, destroys homes while women and children are in those homes, incarcerate the youth of America, impose five different wars on many neighbors, and always threaten others, what would you do? What would you say? Would you help it? … Or would you help the people of the United States?”

Ahmadinejad asked in response to whether Israel should be “wiped off” the face of the map, as he once said.

“So when we say ‘to be wiped,’ we say for occupation to be wiped off from this world. For war-seeking to (be) wiped off and eradicated, the killing of women and children to be eradicated. And we propose the way. We propose the path. The path is to recognize the right of the Palestinians to self-governance.”

He is relentless with imposing ‘self-determination.’

Oh. He surprised me when asked how he would feel if his daughter fell in love with a Jew when he said “I would have to see who that Jewish man or woman would be. I see love amongst people as completely acceptable. There are many Jews living in Iran with whom we are very close. There are … some Muslims that marry into Jewish families or marry Christians.”

“I — we have no such problems,” he added.

Well. I cannot even come close to fathoming how he thinks on this. It is so far out of my dna I can’t grasp it.

Now. I honestly don’t believe it is quite as simple as that in Iran but given how measured he was on other touchy topics it was enlightening to hear him go on record with that <and I share my perspective on this in my conclusion>.

–          When asked whether he believes in a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Ahmadinejad declined to comment.

“I cannot express an opinion. That is their prerogative but the people of Palestine must be allowed by everyone, and helped by everyone, to allow them, to give them the right to choose for themselves.”

–          The Holocaust.

I won’t even touch the holocaust discussion. He will not admit there was ever a Holocaust or directly answer a question about whether $6million jewish people lost their lives in WW2. Suffice it to say he didn’t answer the question (did he believe the holocaust occurred) and there was certainly a point where it looked like if he had a holy scimitar handy he would have sliced Piers head off right then and there.

Bottom line on the interview?

1. Perspective.

I believe any time we can see our own actions thru others eyes it cannot hurt. Did I agree with at all? Absolutely not. Did it make me think a little? Absolutely yes.

Foreign policy is complex. It is not just “make a strong stance” <or drawing some colored line in the sand like kids getting ready to challenge each other>. He also reminded me of another thing Brzezinski said on TV the other day … “if we <America> act unwisely the region could erupt.” Because whether I agree with Ahmadinejad or not he said something like “some of US actions have prompted extremism.” The point? Taking actions in anyone’s backyard generates some response particularly if it is perceived as a religious affront. Do I believe if the West did nothing that there would be no activity? Surely not. Do I believe countries around the world believe USA is ‘soft’ or isn’t as dangerous as it ‘used to be’? Absolutely not. America has the strongest, most far reaching, capable military in the world. The struggle is actually America itself … the bulk of America talks tough about foreign policy but doesn’t really have the stomach <nor should they> for doing some of the things that would need to be done to step in.

Beyond that … Ahmadinejad clearly points toward the best path is one in which the Middle East resolves their own issues if it can be done that way. We Americans tend to like to think that everything is about us … but here is a truth about the Middle East situation – it is really a war between moderate Muslim and radical Muslim. At its heart & soul it is a religious war. The best person to manage Iran is a relative sharing the religion … not a distant neighbor who does not.

2. Frankly, Ahmadinejad concerned me for a number of reasons.

(a) He is smart, crafty smart.

He portrays himself as an enlightened, reasonable person who thinks everyone should just be left alone to do whatever they want in their own country. He complains about a world where Israel can threaten Iran over suspected nuclear ambitions and in the next breath refuses to recognize Israel as a state and has said that he wants the current Israeli political regime to cease to exist. Iran also funds and supports militants & terrorists on Israel’s border who have thousands of rockets aimed at Israeli population centers. The concept that Iran just wants to live in peace and security with its neighbors is a fiction … well … as long as Israel is one of its neighbors that is.

(b) He is intolerant within a religious construct.

This has nothing to do with Sharia law but everything to do with whether you believe the Koran <or Bible for that matter> is a metaphorical guide for actions or an actual guide for actions. Just as he wields ‘self-determination’ like a bludgeon <see c.> he wields the Koran as his unswerving constitutional guide … not just for moral direction but also for leadership action.

Think of it as almost exactly opposite of say Turkey.

This creates internal country issues but let’s imagine any country can elect to govern as they wish. However, it also creates massive external repercussions globally in dealing with other governmental constructs. And, more importantly, within the Middle East in which while he may chafe with his more moderate brethren he happens to have a neighbor, on the same street mind you, that has a country founded upon a completely different religious construct. With such a rigid, values based <which makes it a ‘divine’ construct> construct I cannot envision the tolerance and flexibility needed for realistic compromise that takes place in any diplomacy.

(c) He invokes “self-determination” nonstop (which invariably stokes resentment anytime anyone from the west decides to be involved in the region’s business).

This circles back to the crafty smart comment. Self-determination is an American foreign policy lynchpin established by Woodrow Wilson post WW1. It is stated beliefs that the established population has a right to self determine their future as a state/country.

Well, in a wildly imagination-driven world even I addressed this <in my ‘remapping the middle east’ post: http://brucemctague.com/a-new-map-of-the-middle-east) but there is always a relationship to the ‘bigger picture’ regardless of whether it simply be regional <Middle East> or globally <the globe>. Most self-determination type discussions involve domestic <what is right for me at home> and internationally <what impact will this have economically and exchange of trade/ideas/etc.>. he is only showing us one side of the coin.

He is also crafty with regard to self-determination and Israel.

This next thought may get me in trouble but here goes … Ahmadinejad may not be anti-Jewish but rather simply anti-Israel <he continues to refuse to acknowledge Israel as a legitimate state>. But, heck, he may not even give a flip about Israel … if it was say maybe located near Paraguay or Luxembourg.

The crux of this thought/concern? I do believe he would guide his country to take any steps possible to eliminate Israel from the Middle East but I believe his whole self-determination argument suggests that he believes the REGION would self-determine that Israel just didn’t belong there. It is a frightening argument. And one that takes you down an inevitable path where Israel is not going to simply move near Paraguay/Luxembourg therefore the leader of Iran is suggesting if they don’t move we will move them. Ultimately that is why this man, and this situation, is dangerous.

I am glad I watched.

It reminded me of something I wrote last week … it is becoming more and more difficult to discern the good guys from the bad guys. When reasonable is so intertwined with unreasonable it becomes easy to think ‘that makes sense’ and … well … just move on. What I have found is that the unreasonable are excellent at wielding the ‘reasonable’ thoughts like a surgeon … cutting into doubt just enough that you hesitate from saying what you know in your heart of hearts is the right thing.

Watch it.

It never hurts to listen.

Iran

February 14th, 2012

So.

I am not a middle east expert by any stretch of the imagination. But a lot of stuff is happening which includes the word “Iran” a lot. And, frankly, not a lot of good stuff.

Foreign Affairs magazine had an interesting article or two (they always do a nice job of sharing opposing points of view when possible) with regard to what is happening with Iran and the middle east.

In this article they included a link to a site which is outstanding if you want to gain some knowledge into Iran and some of the topics being discussed.

If you are interested here is the link: http://www.cfr.org/interactives/CG_Iran/index.html?cid=oth-redirect-crisis_guide_iran#/overview/

Anyway.

Yes.

I do have a point of view with regard to Iran.

No.

I don’t believe I will share it now. Mostly because when I have a particularly strong point of view I like to take the time to do some research and be sure I don’t misstate facts.

The link is worth visiting.

It was developed by the Council on Foreign Relations (http://www.cfr.org/) of which today’s featured briefing is on The UN’s Middle East Struggles.

It is, well, enlightening.

a new map of the middle east

April 12th, 2010

Well.skeptical view world

 

Understanding the Middle East is complicated <that, my friends, may be the biggest understatement you will ever see on the enlightened conflict site>.

 

The geography and boundaries are confusing <and complex>.

The mix of cultures and religions are complex <and confusing>.

 

Everything is overlapping between a long history, a present that always has a portion of the past buried within … and some absurd intervention at times by the Western world.

 

But.

 

I believe it is important, no, imperative that we try and understand. And try to put some things in perspective, and have respect for THEIR perspective and become more knowledgeable so that WE have some perspective moving forward (because these issues are not going away). That said. Let me begin with some thoughts from some pretty knowledgeable people:

——–        

From General Patton’s biography ‘General Patton: A Soldier’s Life’

“..One of the things he did was to read the Koran. He wanted to get some insight into the character of the native Moroccan population.” Reading the Koran, Patton became especially concerned, because he feared some of the invading troops would have to pass through and desecrate a burial ground. This act might arouse the native population, something Patton wished to avoid.”

———

“People who wish to understand the Islamic tradition would do well to try to start with an examination of the role that Islam played in the development of law rather than with the various Muslim bashing books that has appeared recently.”

Tom Palmer

———-

“Yet the biggest ethnic conflict in the Middle East today is not between Jews and Arabs. It is between Sunni and Shiite Muslims.”

Niall Ferguson

———

 

Hey.

 

Before I go further. I will admit I am not an expert on this. But I want to learn more and try to understand <although I doubt I will completely make sense of it>.

This post was inspired by an awesome map <you will see later in post> I came across. It kind of captured what I sensed was a thoughtful solution <from unreasonable people who wanted to ignore the politics and power shit associated with any restructuring of borders>.

 

And, in the end, suffice it to say the truth is complicated <as are the solutions>.

 

I think the whole area confuses most Americans because we want to apply our rules and what we know when we think of the area and the issues they are facing. The cultural differences are so extremely different it sometimes makes it difficult for us to find a common foundation for the discussion.

 

 

Americans feel better with borders and countries and democracy and feel compelled to build them. And when we do invariably we ignore the nuances of differentiation (for example … finally creating Pakistan out of India to permit a free Muslim country yet when partitioning the land exclude a Muslim region adjoining the new Pakistan so that India and Pakistan continue to fight and debate the geography.)

 

 

Anyway.

Life is funny <in a non laughing way>.

 

It can give you a window of opportunity to do the right thing.

It can even put the right people in the same place to make it happen.

 

Oh.

And then for a variety of reasons the opportunity is missed.

 

 

Right after World War 1 was one of those opportunities. Borders were being redrawn. A horrible war was to have shown the world, and leaders, the way it was before … was not going to be the way it was going to be.

 

The basic idea was on the table.

Permit like minded people govern themselves. Some leaders failed us at that time <but it would be silly of me to say they were stupid or silly in not doing the right thing>.

 

Choices were difficult.

Politics were as they are today … politics. And of course money and power loomed.

 

With that said.

 

Where the window of opportunity existed.

 

In 1919, in Paris, diplomats from more than 30 countries met, discussed and came up with a series of treaties that reshaped the map of Europe and the world. At its center were the leaders of the three “Great Powers” … President Woodrow Wilson of the United States, Prime Minister David Lloyd George of Britain, and Georges Clemenceau of France.

 

 

Germany and Russia were not invited to attend, but numerous other nations did send delegations, each with a different agenda. Kings, prime ministers and foreign ministers with their crowds of advisers and lobbyists for a hundred causes, ranging from independence for the countries of the South Caucasus to women’s rights all attempted to reach a favorable decision. For six months Paris was effectively the center of a world government, as the peacemakers wound up bankrupt empires and created new countries.

note: if you want an incredibly fascinating read on this event read “Paris 1919: Six Months That Changed the World.” It is extensive and detailed but easy and interesting to read.

Anyway. The key point to the discussion and what would have made a difference today if it had been implemented well & correctly was the thought of self-determination (it is seen as the freedom of the people of a given territory or national grouping – a nation is a grouping of people who share common history, culture, language or ethnic origin, often possessing or seeking its own government – to determine their own political status and how they will be governed without undue influence from any other country). France and Britain which already controlled empires (and colonies) and wielded power over their subjects around the world still aspired to be dominant colonial powers and balked at self determination.

note: if you have a chance to pick up the 4/10 The Economist there is an interesting short article on defining what makes a country “In quite a State.”

But this thought of self determination is very important to where I am going in this post. The following map was offered in Armed Forces Journal and is based on self determination and grouping likeminded people. What I really liked about their exercise was not to draw maps as we would like them but as local populations would prefer them. They actually refer to this idea as ‘How a better Middle East would Look.’

Once again I preface this by saying typically the only way country boundaries get redrawn is by war so this type of idea seems quite unreasonable <but sure does look reasonable>.

 

 

re mapped middleast

 

 

 

 

(The following is the rationale for the remapping):

 

 

A just alignment in the region would leave Iraq’s three Sunni-majority provinces as a truncated state that might eventually choose to unify with a Syria that loses its littoral to a Mediterranean-oriented Greater Lebanon: Phoenicia reborn. The Shia south of old Iraq would form the basis of an Arab Shia State rimming much of the Persian Gulf. Jordan would retain its current territory, with some southward expansion at Saudi expense. For its part, the unnatural state of Saudi Arabia would suffer as great a dismantling as Pakistan.

 

 

A root cause of the broad stagnation in the Muslim world is the Saudi royal family’s treatment of Mecca and Medina as their fiefdom.

 

With Islam’s holiest shrines under the police-state control of one of the world’s most bigoted and oppressive regimes — a regime that commands vast, unearned oil wealth — the Saudis have been able to project their Wahhabi vision of a disciplinarian, intolerant faith far beyond their borders. The rise of the Saudis to wealth and, consequently, influence has been the worst thing to happen to the Muslim world as a whole since the time of the Prophet, and the worst thing to happen to Arabs since the Ottoman (if not the Mongol) conquest.

 

While non-Muslims could not effect a change in the control of Islam’s holy cities, imagine how much healthier the Muslim world might become were Mecca and Medina ruled by a rotating council representative of the world’s major Muslim schools and movements in an Islamic Sacred State — a sort of Muslim super-Vatican — where the future of a great faith might be debated rather than merely decreed. True justice (which we might not like) would also give Saudi Arabia’s coastal oil fields to the Shia Arabs who populate that subregion, while a southeastern quadrant would go to Yemen. Confined to a rump Saudi Homelands Independent Territory around Riyadh, the House of Saud would be capable of far less mischief toward Islam and the world.

 

 

–          This is an awesome idea.

 

Iran, a state with madcap boundaries, would lose a great deal of territory to Unified Azerbaijan, Free Kurdistan, the Arab Shia State and Free Baluchistan, but would gain the provinces around Herat in today’s Afghanistan — a region with a historical and linguistic affinity for Persia. Iran would, in effect, become an ethnic Persian state again, with the most difficult question being whether or not it should keep the port of Bandar Abbas or surrender it to the Arab Shia State.

 

 

What Afghanistan would lose to Persia in the west, it would gain in the east, as Pakistan’s Northwest Frontier tribes would be reunited with their Afghan brethren. Pakistan, another unnatural state, would also lose its Baluch territory to Free Baluchistan. The remaining “natural” Pakistan would lie entirely east of the Indus, except for a westward spur near Karachi.

 

 

Conclusion:

 

I love this stuff. I love this type of thinking. I wish we could figure out a way of taking this seemingly unreasonable reasonable solution and implement it <as well as a redrawn Africa which may have the only other more wacky country boundaries>.

Interestingly, if you are paying attention and can keep track of what is happening in the Balkans this redrawing is happening even today <some even without war & negative conflict>.

 

I post this because it interests me.

 

I also post this because I don’t think any of us know enough about this.

Enlightened Conflict