Tuesday, March 16, 2010


Annie Leonard's The Story of Stuff is extremely timely as a trenchant critique of consumerism.

Western (indeed increasingly world) civilisation is at a critical juncture. Either we go for guided capitalism - capitalism which will be profitable in meeting the needs of society - or we continue with unguided capitalism which has fed the age of waste in which we have been living since the recovery from World war II in the 50s and 60s.

Humanity now faces existential threats - climate change, nuclear wmd proliferation, overpopulation, threats of epidemics, exhaustion of resources from oil to water - etc. etc. Quite apart from the imperative to meet these immense challenges by cooperation rather than eternal war for ever diminishing space and resources, it is indisputable that the developing countries cannot achieve anything even near the US and European standards of living in the present age of waste.

Annie Leonard's figures show dramaticaly how our wealth has been spent on waste, frittered on baubles and inessentials, instead of spent on such things as education (including of women being vital for population control), health, alternative energy, water supply, etc. etc.       

The era of waste will have to end one day and resources redirected - but will we wake up in time - or will those existential threats have become irreversible before we do?

We must answer the question - is life really just all about unlimited consumption (percentage "growth" of our economies)or are there other imperatives for survival, other values than material? As Wordsworth famously remarked - "getting and spending we lay waste our powers".  Not only in a spiritual sense, but our powers to survive as a species.  

Our politicians worldwide are a large part of the problem for they do not and maybe cannot concentrate on the whole picture of our predicament - they are too busy worrying about the next election and how to pay for it - or they are fearful that their dictatorship will meet a stronger force than they.

Monday, March 15, 2010

US & Palestine

re General Petraeus’ appeal to Mullen (and indirectly the White House) for a resolution of the Palestine problem as vital for US interests

This key Petraeus move is very encouraging. Nothing is more important for undermining the appeal of "jihadism" and motivation for suicide bombing - in a word for reducing the "clash of civilisations" that we are livnig through since the invasion of Iraq - than resolving the Palestine problem.

Now that Prime Minister Netanyahu has thrown down the gauntlet either he and the suicidal Israeli fundamentalist "right" will prevail - or the US will.

But the "Pentagon lobby" is also heavily infiltrated by Israel's backwoodsmen and by Mossad's powerful influence within the Pentagon.  Then there is the media - especially Murdoch's - and the still great influence of the neo-conservatives and their Project for a New American Century. They  got us (Britain too) into Iraq.

This is a tug of war between Titans. Little poodle Israel has long been strong enough to wag the tail of the huge American hound! 

Here post-Lisbon Europe could greatly help reinforce Obama's US Administration in out-manoevring the Israeli stone-wallers.  The first great test for "new" Europe. But will it pass that test so critical for the future of the West?

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Netanyahu's slaps in the US face

Comment on Eric Alterman, Daily Beast - Netanyahu's slaps in the US face

Resolving the Palestine problem is the sine qua non for undermining justified Muslim resentment against the West and the appeal of "jihadism" and suicide bombing. 

Little poodle Israel is at present wagging the huge American hound. Obama, who knows very well what needs to be done, has suffered a knock out blow. Is he (and the US) down for the count or will he get up and prevail? If the EU can find its spine now the Lisbon treaty is in force, it could greatly help, with Russia, in forcing the Netanyahus and religious extremists to accept a Palestine state. It's cart before the horse to blame the Palestinians for not being a valid partner for negotiations - show them there is a way forward and only if they won't take it can you blame them. (We've been saying this since 2002) 

10.3.'10 re Alan Hart
We at this diplomatic consultancy pointed out in Sept 2002 that the necessary corollary to the invasion of Afghanistan in 2001 was a resolution of the Palestine/Israeli decades-long running sore on international relations. That's because nothing was causing more resentment and hatred of the West among the world's Muslims (and many non-Muslims) than the miserable fate of the Palestinians. 
It is the same today in 2010 - nothing would do more towards de-fanging the "clash of civilisations" and the motivation of "jihadis" and suicide bombers than establishing a Palestinian state (before Israeli settlements make that impossible). 
Because the Palestinian problem was left to fester after President Clinton's effort in 1999, G W Bush (with his invasion of Iraq, Abu Ghraib etc.) and Osama bin Laden (and his "Al Qaeda and Co.") have together succeeded in vastly exacerbating that worldwide quasi-religious confrontation inaptly called "the War on Terror". 
It is no use fighting in Afghanistan and indeed everywhere else that Al Qaeda and Co. pop up, if the underlying justified Muslim resentments are not addressed - and that means having the determination and courage to get a Palestinian state on track. This is not just a matter for the US. Europe and Russia, if they lived up to their convictions, and together took action, could greatly help President Obama to overcome the immense political difficulties for the US to stand up to Israel's present extremist government - which in fact is acting against Israel's longer term interests - incidentally worrying many Jews in the US and elsewhere.