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June 02, 2011

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A Few Thoughts-----

AFGHANISTAN AND LIBYA---- As the call for withdrawal from Afghanistan rings louder it is interesting to note that often times people think the US can win wars with it's superior Air capability. It is useful to remember what finally brought Iraq to a more sustainable situation: John McCain's call for "more boots on the ground". Now let's look at NATO trying to dislodge Quaddaffi in Libya with daily air strikes. The US had Saddam hiding in a hole and his sons dead. In Libya with no "public" boots on the ground Quaddaffi appears on TV occassionally. NATO's rebel forces control parts of Libya with government forces retaking parts of the country occasionally. It is of importance for NATO in Libya and Obama in Afghanistan to decide what it is we are there for and what we want the outcome to be in order to determine how we are to withdraw or deploy "boots on the ground". Without them drones and airstrikes can only be partially effective in winning against a determined opponent. Especially in Vietnam like situations with civil war scenarios and safe harbor zones.

REPUBS--- The Republican "lot" of candidates held their focus on the economy this week. That is good. But, it needs more than reversing the "blame Bush" game to the "blame Obama" game. It needs ideas and solutions to be debated vigorously between candidates. OK the solidarity was good for one time. Now boys and Michelle--have at it. If you cannot debate each other then you cannot stand up to the smoke and mirrors "I Man".

THE STIMULUS----- Last week I'm told that Obama joked that the "shovel ready" projects in the stimulus plan weren't so shovel ready. Look there was no real stimulus plan. In Virginia only 3% of the money went to infrastructure. The same was true in most states. Obama,Reid and Pelosi knew the stimulus plan was just cover for Union bailouts, unemployment extensions, pension bailouts and pet Democratic projects. $1 Trillion added to the US debt --little stimulus dollars to rebuild US infrastructure. And, now we joke about it. Sad.

A Comment On the Middle East:

In 1971 when I left the military and began my work as a consultant most of my focus and that of the Defense community along with the CIA,State Department, White House and news analysts were focused on the competition and interactions between the United States and the USSR. It was in some respects a scary time with about 100,000 nuclear weapons aimed at each other. But, a lot of the analysis focused on where the two could come in conflict and how to avoid escalation if it happened. The method that was emplyed most was the rule of war by proxy which mean't whoever went in first was opposed by a proxy rather than direct intervention. This was implimented after the Cuban Missile Crisis and the Berlin Airlift, two challenges that could have resulted in direct conflict. From then on it was the US in Vietnam with China and North Vietnam as USSR proxies followed by the USSR in Afghanistan with the Pakistan and rebel proxies for the US. The most likely scenario for a US and USSR conflict was the Middle East with both parties carefully lining up and supporting proxies. The US had Egypt,Saudi Arabia, Isreal, Iran, Jordan,Turkey, Kuwait while the USSR had Syria,the Palestinians and Libya. Then when Iran ousted the Shaw, the USSR seduced Iran. The result was a huge amount of foreign aid and arms into the region which fortified the dictitorial regimes of Saddam, The Shaw of Iran,Sadat/Mubarack, Quadaffi,Hussein & son, Assad & son, etc. Turn the page 40-50 years and we have just finished hunting down long time ally Bin Laden, are finishing a second war with long time ally Saddam, entering a war with long time USSR ally Quadaffi, chatising USSR ally the son of Assad who may take us into another war. For most of this time it was felt that the reason for the special significance of the region was oil. But, was it? Saudi Arabia currently supplies the US with only about 8% of it's imports. More likely the significance was Isreal and it's constant conflict with it's neighbors. Today Isreal is still the bullseye of the region, the Palestinians the pawn in the game and oil of increasing importance as Europe runs low. And, now, we add terrorism from the dominant religion in the region: Muslims. Do we worry about conflicts in Asia? Africa? South America? Mexico? Not much. The complexity, the history and the commodities combine to make this region hyper explosive. And, today we have a series of situations with Iran's nuclear ambition, Muslim terroists intertwined with freedom movements, Dictators fighting to the death,NATO intervention, Isreal looking to survive in a country the size of a US county, Monarchies promising elections/reforms, and militaries living off US foreign aid payments that are all potential ignitors of explosive exchanges with multiple parties. So it is right that Bill writes of the realities of the Middle East and it is understandable that Obama tries to get the focus off the region. Unfortunately for him that region has been the focus of world stress since the end of WWII. And, it will likely remain so indefinitely. No where else in the world is such wealth mixed with such poverty. A sure formula for hatred.

ECONOMY-------

Headlines in the Washington Post Thursday were "As Recovery Loses Steam, Few Remedies Left". Herein lies the problem with American politics and most of the pundits who follow them. American business and consumers do not need stimulus for the economy to grow, which is what most politicians and commentators call remedies. The American economy needs consistency and minimization of interference. To that end there are plenty of remedies available:

1. Review all government regulations and revoke all that are out of date or deter investment in provate enterprise at all governmental levels.

2. Encourage the safe and proper exploitation of America's energy resources to give American consumers and industry a competative advantage in the world markets. This will lower the outflow of valuable American capital beyond our borders.

3. Revise the Healthcare plan to create a partnership between American businesses who employ people and the service providers who take care of them. Include governement workers in the program, create national buyers pools and fix the medicaide program.

4. Close the borders. Enforce immigration laws.

5. Eliminate the capital gains tax on long term business investments.

6. Get government out of the favortism business where tax credits are used to favor one industry over another or unions over nonunions.

The list goes on.

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