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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 5/31/10

Dazed and confused

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Dazed and Confused. A personal perspective on current world affairs

There are times when I must admit that to belong to the great group of uninformed people, or perhaps uncaring people, or unthinking people, would be a much easier way to get through life. The developed countries of the world have the wealth to create systems of distraction for the populace, systems generally called the media ranging from the old standard television through to the modern mind-trivia pursuits of Twitter and Facebook, controlled by the corporations that require a non-critical unthinking participation in the diversions that are there to keep the populace amused, distracted, entertained, pseudo-informed, patriotically biased, and generally blasé about the world around them. This cocoon of media hype provides a few glimpses of various man made and natural disasters around the world to provide conversational talking points, but seldom if ever with any context or depth of research, and always isolated one from another as if each incident exists entirely in its own sphere to be "ooh'ed and 'ahh'ed at and then forgotten in the daily drive to be the richest sexiest best-looking most consumptive pawn on the block.

Somehow I cannot do that, and it leaves me "dazed and confused' when the mass of information that is available reveals quite transparently that all the major disaster news items are related and that the sum total of them all is that on our current course, we are all facing dramatic and perhaps traumatic changes to our lifestyles. Today's news items that leave me dazed and confused run the full spectrum of scary items: Euro devaluation; massive oil pools in Gulf of Mexico heading towards Gulf Stream; Arctic long term ice rotting away; 145th Canadian and 1000th U.S. soldier killed in Afghanistan; Israel continues occupying Palestine.


The global economy appears to be nothing more than a giant Ponzi scheme that will fall apart as soon as a critical person, institute, or mass of investors stops believing they can reap more profits from it. Finance capitalism displays its fault lines all across Europe as the EU in conjunction with the IMF and World Bank - the Washington consensus - bailed out Greece. This imposes on Greece an austerity program that has long proven that it does more to impoverish the middle and lower classes offering more regressive taxation accompanied by a decline in social services and social benefits ranging from medical services, through education to pensions and income assistance.

The bailouts in Greece and the resulting market chaos from a frightened financial sector will take its toll, as usual with the masses absorbing most of the losses in the form of higher taxes and degraded services, public and private. With one big thump, neo-liberalism and its finance capitalism has arrived in Greece, soon perhaps to be followed by Spain, Portugal, Italy and who know what others to join Latvia, Estonia, and Iceland as failing Euro-states.

For all the rhetoric spewed out by global economists, it only goes to strengthen my long held belief that economists are essentially useless and the "science" of economics is an oxymoron as it is based on invented formulas from imagined markets. It also strengthens my fear that sometime soon, combined with all the other elements in the economic news concerning banks and mortgages and employment stats, something catastrophic will happen to make everyone's savings and earnings next to worthless.

Oiling the Military

And then when it costs an estimated one million dollars a day to maintain one U.S. soldier in the Middle East, it only emphasizes how the military is very much involved with our current global economy, in more ways than one. Along with the cost of the war - in the hundreds of billions of dollars, leading into the trillions - are the costs to the occupied countries from a wide range of parameters including civilian infrastructure (housing, water, electricity, schools, and hospitals), chemical poisons (from various ordinances including depleted uranium and white phosphorous), internal refugees, and the destruction of local economies, increasing the chances of graft, oppression, and criminal activities.

Which still omits the purpose behind the wars in the first place, supposedly based on a global war on terror, and the spreading of democracy and freedom throughout the Middle East"while the reality of the wars is the opportunistic events of 9/11 enabling an excuse to become a global military hegemon trying to capture the oil, gas, and mineral wealth of the region at the same time containing the rising power of China and the re-assertiveness of Russia.

Of course the part of the military news reported this week is the 145th Canadian soldier and the 1000th U.S. soldier to die in Afghanistan, most of them from IEDs buried at roadside or in car bombs, as with this incident in Kabul. Broadly suggested on the patriotic front is that we must all support our troops, something I find hard to do when Canadian troops are not much more than allies for the U.S.'s intent on military control of the world. Seldom is mention given to the thousands, hundreds of thousands, of the local populations killed directly from military action or indirectly from its many collateral consequences. An indigenous person who fights against foreign occupation immediately becomes a terrorist, yet the real terror being spread comes from the reported imminent assault by U.S./NATO forces against Kandahar, even though similar actions in the much less populated villages of Marjah has been an understated failure.

Another tie in militarily is of course Iran and Israel. With Israel thumbing their collective noses at the U.S. administration, unthreatened by U.S. military strength as it has its own finely tuned military - supported in a large part through U.S. "aid' and supplies of high tech military equipment - the U.S./Israel/Iran triangle creates the fearful situation of another impending military action, perhaps leading into the use of nuclear weapons depending on the fierceness or not of Iranian resistance. That scenario is currently tempered by the news report of Brazil's Lula reaching a limited agreement with Iran and Turkey on the transportation and servicing of enriched uranium, but it waits to be seen how the U.S. and Israel argue their way around this diplomatic action that bypasses their efforts at control.

And then on into Pakistan, "Obama's war' of choice, undeclared, fought through covert operations within the population and within the government agencies, while a large clear majority of the citizens see the U.S. as the biggest threat to the country. It is also fought through high tech warriors at computers well away from the actual situations, relying on nothing more than their own gut level despisal of the indigenous populations. The Pakistan situation goes to show that the main U.S. response to its declining global economic role, its reliance on oil for the vast majority of its economic demands, its only true method of resolving any situation it does not like, is to send in the military. Who's next? Iran? Venezuela? Korea? As the U.S. empire becomes even more aggressive militarily, I can only think again, we're all facing something quite dramatic and traumatic!

More oil

Totally unrelated to all this military and economic garbage, at least as presented by the media, are the two news items this week that supposedly have an impact on the environment. Which they do, but their impact and significance go far beyond the reporting of the actual information as narrowly presented in the news and most commentaries.

The biggest news is that of the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. It has had no real impact on the economy, other than the regional economy of tourism and fisheries along the Gulf Coast, but no earth shaking effect on the dollar or the overall economy, perhaps more significant if it reaches the Gulf Stream and on into the Atlantic". Yet it is all too representative of the overall economy. The necessity for oil in our high energy, easy energy economy, the disdain for environmental safeguards, placing profits above the environment we live in, the ignoring of information concerning the drilling operations such as the partial failure of a rubberized protective pressure gasket signals that the corporate world, the supra-national corporations that have effectively superseded governments in many areas, could care less about anything but their own profits.

Our easy energy economy relies on oil and its derivative products. Everything we do, everything we have, is all related to the easy energy provided by oil, a resource that is at or very near its peak, with not a slow rundown on a bell curve at the end, but a roller coaster style drop off as extraction becomes more difficult for a variety of reasons. Our agriculture runs on oil, from the fertilizers, pesticides, insecticides through to its transportation thousands of miles away to the homes of those that can afford the luxury of thousand mile meals. Our health structures, medicines, tourism, our whole civic structure based on the automobile, the world of plastics, the energy needed to make and use all the consumptive demands of our society rely on oil.

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Jim Miles is a Canadian educator and analyst who examines the world through a syncretic lens. His analysis of international and domestic geopolitical ideas and actions incorporates a lifetime of interest in current events, a desire to (more...)

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