World War Something
The latest war in Georgia was a bit hard to overlook. It's a very dangerous turn of events, partly because it has forced the various sides to reveal their true intentions. However the timing of things has been very suspicious.
Fancy kicking off a war hours before the opening ceremony of the Olympic games. Many commentators believe that the Georgian offensive, initially targeting an undefended civilian target (ie: a war crime that cries out for vengeance) happened sort of 'by mistake', meaning that it occurred without the foreknowledge of the US and was the result of an idiotic and hot headed Georgian government that had no idea what it was getting itself into. However, the timing shows that there was nothing hot-headed about any of this. Very few people were watching anything but the Olympics at the time the war started, and the whole thing was finished before the closing ceremony. This allowed for western news sources to lay out a version of events that suited NATO and the US to be fed to the European and American public. There is, for example, a widespread perception (among the unwashed masses) that the Russian army started everything - somehow - and the Georgians were on the run (although the news sources don't exactly SAY that). On the contrary, all the reputable news sources mention (often as a footnote that gets skipped by most readers) that the Georgian army started the battle. But the power of doublespeak is in telling lies without saying untruths. The wording tends to portray Georgia as a victim nation merely reclaiming lost land, etc., whereas in truth is, regardless of who has a moral right to the land, the Georgian military committed a horrendous crime against innocent people. Why was anyone surprised that Russia took the opportunity to get involved? The temptation was too great:
- Russia gets the moral high-ground for taking out the Georgian army for its war crimes.
- By acting swifly, Russia had the chance to confiscate sensitive NATO and US property (computers and communications equipment) which is a real bonanza for intelligence services. And indeed, this did occur.
- Russia performs its duty of protecting its citizens (thus opening a very convenient can of worms, whereby wars can now be waged where citizens' rights are breached and not borders)
- Russia gets to thwart a possible avenue for an Iranian attack by Israel. Iraqi airspace has not been made available for such an attack as yet. Logistic problems of an Israeli strike on Iran appear to be the main reason it hasn't occurred yet, apart from apparent opposition by the US.
- Russia secures its supply routes to Iran, in the event of a ground war where Russia would presumably be in Iran's aid.
There are probably more reasons for Russia to get involved, but this is of course all after the fact. I suspect that at the time, Russia was not privy to the exact communications and events that led to the order being given by the Georgian commanders to attack. It will be a long time before we find out exactly what went on. I think it's fair to say the Georgians made a gross miscalculation, but it would be unfair to say that their government is unintelligent.
It is likely that, as history has shown, the weak and small countries get manipulated by the powerful countries on which they depend for protection (and in this case arms sales and military training). The Georgians were given the green light, probably on the basis of some bogus intelligence report supplied to them, believing that they would get their cake and eat it. They went on a march, expecting to be allowed to do a bit of ethnic cleansing and good old-fashioned invasion, with the US right behind them. They thought Russia wouldn't respond (and they were probably assured by their bogus intelligence briefing). It wouldn't be the first time a western power has pulled one of these ones off on some overly trusting government. Gulf War I wasn't that much different in how it started. I can think of other cases, too.
The suppliers of the bogus intelligence report probably believed that Russia would overstep its mark and commit wholesale slaughter in Georgia (Chechnya-style) and thus give NATO and the US 'no option' than to isolate Russia, possibly broadening the conflict and kicking off WWIII. However Russia has not overstepped its mark. One can't really fault the execution of their military operation. While they did target key infrastructure such as gas and oil pipelines and major highways, they did not by and large target civilians, hospitals, schools and so on. They eviscerated the Georgian military bases, of course, but this is what war is about. For all intents and purposes, Russia stuck to the 'just war' doctrine and, if media reporting was ever fair, would have easily won the publicity war.
So now the US is in a bit of a spot of bother. There has been hasty signing of missile defense agreements and realignment of NATO, and the pieces are falling into new places. But what next?
Someone sitting at a big shiny desk is pointing his finger sharply at a piece of paper yelling "we have an agenda, we have a timeline!". They wanted to draw Russia into some kind of mess but Russia was not sucked in... yet. This is where I think things are going. I expect in the coming weeks or months for there to be another attack on Russian interests, perhaps a false flag attack. It could be anything of course, but the underlying benefit of the coming event will be to try to force Russia's or Iran's hand into doing something that can attract blame and military reprisals. In other words, World War Three.
I kid you not.
Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac together own or guarantee about $5 trillion in mortgages, about half of the entire U.S. mortgage market.
These two are, of course, in the news a fair bit now, being on the brink of collapse. Their biggest foreign creditor is China.
Especially hard hit, U.S. bank shares fell this week to their lowest level since 1996 on fears of seemingly endless losses.
That has GOT to be telling you something. I don't know about you, but I am surprised this kind of stuff isn't making it to front page news on Slashdot, even though it isn't nerdy it certainly affects anyone living in the US, nerds included.
Gerard Cassidy, another RBC analyst, estimates that more than 300 U.S. banks could close their doors in the next three years, double what he had estimated back in February. Only a handful have failed so far.
Not a good time to be in debt, methinks. But of course it's not as though everyone is going to get poor over this (although it will probably be everyone I know). Some people stand to become ever-more-filthy rich, but they ought to be a little afraid themselves.
But what I think is scarier than poverty is the extreme probability that the US will kick off (or join in) a war with Iran very very soon. Where will they get soldiers for this? Maybe by the time they are needed, there will be an awful lot of unemployed and homeless young men walking around the streets waiting to be scooped up to help a ground invasion of a flattened, post-nuclear Iran.