National Commentary

Japan, Libya & The Shutdown

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Suddenly, the world has lurched into a new matrix of madness, war and chaos. Current Japanese, Libyan and U.S. domestic “government shutdown” developments paint, in combination, a wasteland panorama surreal for how all have erupted so quickly and simultaneously.

Suddenly, the world has lurched into a new matrix of madness, war and chaos. Current Japanese, Libyan and U.S. domestic “government shutdown” developments paint, in combination, a wasteland panorama surreal for how all have erupted so quickly and simultaneously.

Someone looking in from Mars, might see Earth’s threat level elevated from yellow to orange, with no counterveiling force evident to prevent it from going to bright red, the last stage before “Kaboom!”

In the case of Japan, the cause was a natural disaster to be sure, but beyond the horrible devastation of the quake and tsunami lie not only the long-term impacts of the radioactive spread, but the threat of a veritable dismantling of one of the world’s leading and most efficient economies.

Everybody is running the other way as fast as they can. The collapse of the nation’s tourism industry is the least of their, and everyone else’s, problems. The postponement of the World Figure Skating Championships is only one small example, put off a month and shifted to Moscow.

More problematic is what Jeff Harrington in the St. Petersburg Times writes about concerning how “ripples in the Japanese supply chain will be felt here.”

The article delineates all the important products, beyond cars and electronics, that Japan supplies to the world productive process, including to the U.S. For example, Japan provides 90 percent of the resin used on all computer circuit boards, 70 percent of a polymer used to make iPod batteries, about a fifth of the metal-cutting machine tools used by American manufacturers, and much more.

A U.S. Business and Industry Council report released last week stated that Japan’s woes “could greatly slow America’s already sluggish economic recovery, as these industries generate an outsized share of the country’s best paying jobs and technological innovation.”

How much worse might the radioactivity problem, itself, get? As in the case of the Deepwater Horizon oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico one year ago, the longer-term, permanent damage caused by an incident of such magnitude on the ecology of the biosphere is simply not yet known.

Both incidents remain “ticking timebombs” that could poison our oceans and darken our skies forever.

Then there’s Libya, where the U.S. and its allies have jumped in feet first to yet another war. The claim was that the intervention was of a humanitarian nature. That was the story at first. Now it is clear the objective is regime change.

First, the goal was supposedly to protect civilians, now it is to protect and aid “rebels.” What was likely covert CIA involvement with the “rebels” before is now a publicly acknowledged engagement. The “rebels” are getting well organized. Hardly a surprise. They are no longer “rebel” forces, but U.S. forces.

As with Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.) on “Meet the Press” Sunday, the rhetoric generated on domestic airwaves in defense of the U.S. actions has paralleled so closely that used in the run-up to the U.S. invasion of Iraq: evil dictator cruelly oppressing his people, weapons of mass destruction used on neighboring states in the past, the U.S. goal of liberation.

We now know about the lying done by the Bush administration in advance of the Iraq invasion. Now the same claims are being repeated involving another major oil producing nation.

Finally, the threat of government shutdown in the U.S. is being treated in Washington like a game of chicken, with Republicans and Democrats, alike, calculating its potential from a cynical, reductionist standpoint, as per its effect on the 2012 elections.

Meanwhile, the kind of grotesque spending cuts the GOP is demanding, and the Democrats are caving to, will seriously harm, if not result in the deaths of, millions in grave need of the programs these cuts would eliminate.

Moreover, to cut education and student loans in a time when America is sliding into distant second-rate status among the world’s leading powers is patently insane. The Tea Party radicals view themselves on a new Crusade to roll back civilization, not stopping at Roosevelt, or even the U.S. Constitution, but to before the Renaissance.
A world of ignorance and superstition, species-threatening black plagues, feudal tyrannies and endless wars awaits us.


Nicholas Benton may be emailed at nfbenton@fcnp.com

 

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