Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Vietnam: What Was It About?

This from a piece in today's (7/21/15) NY Times:

HO CHI MINH CITY, Vietnam — Taking a puff from a hookah and a sip from her beer, Thuy Truong, a 29-year-old tech entrepreneur in a black cocktail dress, pondered the question: What were her thoughts on the 40th anniversary of the fall of Saigon?

“Forty years ago?” she yelled over the body-rattling roar of nightclub music. “Who cares!”

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Obama - Clinton

Not to put too fine a point on it, but the people on the Republican right who have jumped to a kneejerk, sight unseen rejection of the Iran deal are the same people who brought us the Vietnam War and the invasion of Iraq. I don't mean the identical individuals, though there's some carry over; I mean they are governed by the same impulse, including the assumption that there are no limits to what American military force can achieve in reshaping the world.

Neither Vietnam nor Iraq taught them much, leading me to doubt they are teachable. And they would like to apply their same belligerent ignorance to Iran.

I think Barack Obama and John Kerry have done great in delivering a deal that, as both have well-argued, offers the best possible hope of keeping Iran from becoming a nuclear power, while holding our own warmonger instincts — and yes, we harbor them — in abeyance.

As I see, it we haven't fought a major war since Korea that needed fighting. This is not to say the need for such a war cannot arise but wouldn't it be grand if it didn't.

Let me add that given Obama's achievements it's crucial that Hillary Clinton become our next president. No insult to Bernie Sanders, he's a welcome contender, but only Clinton can win and it's crucial we have a Democrat who will solidify Obama's gains from foreign to domestic policy rather than a Republican who will seek to undo them from day one as a matter of principle.

By my count, last time we had two successive Democratic presidents, was Kennedy - Johnson. That, of course, was a very special kind of succession, predicated on the assassination of JFK.

Though lacking that kind of impetus, an Obama to Clinton succession may be as much or more consequential.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Opium Wars

Reading Amitav Ghosh's novel, "Flood of Fire", the concluding volume of the trilogy that began with "Sea of Poppies" and "River of Smoke"

In "Flood of Fire" the British are bringing an armada to bear on China. Their religion — the great English truth, to which they want to awaken the resistant Chinese — is "Free Trade", as in opium trade. It's 1839, and the Chinese have belatedly tried to close Canton to the ruinous import of opium. 

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Greece & a Euro-bubble

Anybody else see at least a passing similarity between the situation of Greece and the housing bubble that spurred on the Great Recession?

I find the comparisons imperfect but unavoidable. 

Friday, July 3, 2015

It Takes A Minyan

I was too soft on Look Who’s Back, not intemperate enough. Weird huh, it being me? You keep reading because who is this guy, this Hitler? And then you realize it's all a fucking tease, and hardly funny enough to be justified.