Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Faces of War

A Palestinian child observes the aftermath of an Israeli air strike on the Islamic University on Gaza.

Israeli civilians take cover after an air raid siren sounds in the city of Ashkelon.

A Palestinian boy surveys the devestation caused by an air strike.

The Israeli Air Force have released the following graphic video of an air strike in which several men are killed while apparently loading a pick up truck with Kasam rockets.

The following footage shows the Israeli Navy launching attacks against the Hamas coast.

Watch the chaotic and bloody aftermath of an Israeli strike.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Ground forces enter Gaza

I believe that the IDF have now sent ground forces into the Gaza strip as the next phase of operation Cast Lead gets underway. Although this has not yet been announced nor have the mainstream media reported it I believe it to be the case. I have come to this conclusion after monitoring several Israeli blogs where family members have received text and emails from soldiers at the front. It does however remain to be seen whether it is a large scale incursion July 06 style or a more delicate incision by special forces.

Israeli tanks assembling at the border with Gaza earlier today

My Early Impressions
I believe that this latest phase in the Israeli Palestinian conflict is political in nature. Many commentators have picked up on this point but I think it is sound reasoning. I have posted regularly on Gubu World about the upcoming February elections in Israel and how hardliner Benjamin Netanyahu is expected to return the Likud party to power at the expense of the ruling Kadima party. Netantahu is running on a hawkish line, constantly criticising the Livni/Olmert government of being too soft on Hamas, Hezbollah and Iran. With six weeks to go until the election it is difficult not to make a connection between the internal power struggle within the Jewish state and the air strikes we are witnessing. If the IDF do inflict a decisive blow against Hamas it will be a massive electoral blow to Likud and for Netanyahu's ambitions to become Israeli Prime Minister for the second time.

Perhaps the current Israeli government's biggest failure in the eyes of its people as Netanyahu constantly reminds the public, was their failure to respond effectively to the Hezbollah challenge in the summer of 2006. However it would appear that that conflict is shaping up very different to this. The July 06 war was stared on Hezbollah's terms and the IDF never really got to grips with it. But the conflict this week was initiated at a timing and in a method of Israel's choosing. Hamas are losing this. This time it appears that it is them who are unprepared so I am predicting at this early stage that the outcome will be very different. I will keep you posted as best I can. As of now the death toll stand at 3 Israelis and 338 Palestinians.

Its War !

It has been brewing for some time but all out war has broken out between Israel and Hamas in the Hamas controlled Gaza strip. On Saturday the Israeli Air Force launched a bombardment of the Gaza strip. By Monday lunchtime it appears that two Israelis have been killed by rocket fire in the southern city of Ashkalon and 315 Palestinians have been killed by the strikes. Of these at least 60 were civilians. The rest were Hamas policemen and officials killed when the IAF attacked the Islamic university and a Hamas government compound. It is also being reported now that the Israeli Navy are participating in the attack on Gaza with warships in the Mediterranean firing shells at Hamas targets. Speculation is rapidly mounting as IDF troops gather at the southern border and army reservists are called up that an all out ground offensive is only a matter of time.

A very gruesome Reuters photo of dead Palestinian policemen killed in an IAF strike

The International response
Irish Minister for Foreign Affairs Michael Martin has condemned the Israeli air strikes as disproportionate. British foreign secretary Davis Miliband has called for an immediate ceasefire as has Middle East peace envoy Tony Blair. The Americans have urged the Israelis to do everything possible to avoid civilian casualties. There are vocal demonstration appearing outside Israeli embassies all over Europe including Dublin. Israeli flags are being burnt in angry scenes in Muslim cities from Baghdad to Jakarta. There are also reports of riots in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem by Arab Israelis angered at the Gaza attacks. In the West Bank the Fatah Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has expressed his solidarity with his rival Hamas in the face of the Israeli onslaught.

It has been a slow month for Gubu World but it now looks like the political blogosphere could be very busy with this for the next month or so. Is this a re run of the July 2006 Israeli war with Lebanon. In any case I will try to keep my readers as up to date as possible by regularly updating on events whilst also posting on the context and background of the conflict as well as as examining the morality of the conflict and the methods used by both sides. Stay close !

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Ahmadinejad's Christmas message

On Christmas day Britain's Channel 4 news broadcast a Christmas message from Iranian President Mahmoud Admadinejad. Not surprisingly this has been met with outrage by Israel, world Jewry and Iranian dissidents. The basic theme of his address, directed at the British people is that the vast problems facing humanity today could be resolved if world leaders and humanity itself followed the teachings of the prophets. Watch yourselves and tell me what you think.

In one way his Christmas message appears conciliatory as he heaps praise on Jesus Christ in particular and urges people to follow his message and that of the Jewish prophet Abraham. However the bit that worried me was when he began talking of the second coming of Christ and Mohammad. This to me gets a little too close to all the "end of days" talk that Christian Zionist fanatics and Muslim extremists love to rant about. I like most reasonably minded people do not want to see all the land between the river Jordan and the Mediterranean returned to the Jewish people so that the second coming can be sped up in the wake of the resulting Armageddon. I say put the Iranian fundamentalists and the Christian Zionists on an island somewhere and let them have their Armageddon, just leave the rest of us out of it. As for the controversy surrounding their decision to air the speech. It was ten times the entertainment that the Queens speech offers so I'm down with it.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Happy Christmas

Here is a big thank you and Happy Christmas to my more than 2000 visitors on Gubu World since its creation in May. Attached is without a doubt the best and my favourite Christmas song and video. It is of course the wonderful stop the cavalry. Enjoy.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Israel's Image problem

I had a very interesting conversation with a friend of mine recently. I went to college with this lad and I can tell you he is a smart punter. But check this out. Halfway through our chat in a city center pub the subject of Israel came up , no doubt brought up by me. I don't ever recall having a conversation with this man about the politics of the Middle East before but I was astonished by what came next. Those Israelis are bastards aren't they my buddy claimed. Nothing too shocking there for that does be the general consensus about college campuses and radio talk shows. But my friend then went on to admit that he knew virtually nothing about the Israeli state. He did not know that it is the world's only Jewish state. In fact, he thought it was an Africa country.

And there in is the problem. How could a person know so little about a country yet hold such a strong opinion. OK, politics has never been this guys thing but still, alarm bells are ringing. I have Israeli and Jewish friends that are utterly convinced that the motivation behind the intense anti Israeli rhetoric that we see throughout the land is a covert form of anti semitism. There have been times when I have struggled to find a suitable argument to dispute this. But then it struck me. The vast majority of the world's population are politically inattentive. And a large percentage of those that are attentive are lazy minded. For such people, all they see is the following: About 20 times more Palestinians than Israelis have died in the conflict since the outbreak of the second intifada in 2000. The Israelis have an overwhelming military superiority. Israel is a first world country where as most Palestinians live in abject poverty. These facts are undeniable and for the lazy minded no further debate is required on the subject. As my friend says, the Israelis are bastards and that's it. Having said that I did successfully turn my friend around and that is what I intend to do here at Gubu World whenever I can. I do not simply want to defend Israel in a meaningless way. But I will confront and expose badly informed Israel bashing and instead try to initiate rational discussions on the Israeli Palestinian peace process. I will have plenty of opportunity throughout 2009 to do this as the 2002 Saudi inspired peace plan, backed up by Tony Blair and his team looks set to burst on the scene early next year as it appears the Obama administration is keen to prioritise it from the outset. Interesting times ahead.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Bush avoids terrorist shoe

As I'm sure you have all seen by now an irate Iraqi journalist hurled his shoes at President Bush while he was giving a press conference in Baghdad alongside Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Al Maliki. Entertaining stuff. I thought this prez was supposed to be slow but he moved fairly quick in this instance to his credit. Faster reflexes than I would have guessed. Bush was in Baghdad to officially sign the new security pact which permits US forces to stay in the country until 2011. The controversial agreement was backed by the political establishment in Iraq with the exception of Moqtada Al Sadr and his militant Shiite followers. I will post on the ramifications of this development in the very near future. In the meantime watch the clip of the shoe hurling incident. I had to use the fox news clip because you're always guaranteed an extra portion of crassness. Enjoy.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Duelling Anthems

I was in a nightclub a few nights ago and the duelling banjos tune from Deliverance came on. Strange one I know but it led to me describe to a friend my favourite scene in a movie which is the duelling national anthems between the French and German soldiers in "Rick's Bar" in Casablanca. Its a patriotic battle of song between the somewhat confused Vichy French soldiers of North Africa and the visiting Germans. Hence why the French need to be prompted by Victor Laslow, the British anti fascist activist. Enjoy this piece of cinematic genius.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Seriously, blame it on the Jews

I believe further elaboration is required on the subject of my last two posts. Why do many people, particularly in the Arab world believe the racist conspiracy theory that there were no Jews killed on September 11th. Anti Semitic people that buy into the protocols of elders of Zion theory which basically claims that world Jewry are strategically placed throughout the world and that they are pulling the strings to further the Jewish agenda also tend to mouth this claim that there were no Jewish victims of 9/11. So basically the Jews knew about 9/11 in advance and consequently none of them showed up for work that day. This is of course not true. There were nearly 200 Jewish people killed that day. But this undeniable fact doesn't stop many Muslims believing this theory. It really is quite sinister as the message underpinning it is that Jews around the world are working to strengthen Israel and to destroy the Arab world and in order to do this they would conspire to organise the 9/11 attacks which empowered Israel to conduct its war in Palestine more aggressively and initiated a chain of events that included the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The Jews created aids. This ugly rumour is particularly popular with sub Saharan Muslims. They have got in into their heads that the Jews invented the HIV virus in order to combat the increasing Muslim population in Africa.

Jews caused the 2004 Asian tsunami. Apparently it was not an underwater earthquake. It was in fact an Israeli submarine conducting a nuclear test. And of course they tipped of all Jews not to go holidaying in Thailand of Sri Lanka that day.
Check out the Jewish tidal wave

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

No really, Its the Jews fault

Some people have been asking me to elaborate on my last post. So here it goes. During my time living in the United Arab Emirates here are some of the random anti Semitic rants I came across, none of which can reasonably be blamed on the Israeli occupation of Palestine.

The most common: There were no Jews killed the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

The most Bizarre. Aids was created by the Jews right !

My favourite: Did you know the Asian tsunami in 2004 was caused by the Jews.

There are many people fighting Israel today not because they are angered at the separation wall or the settlements. They are doing so because a Jewish presence in Palestine is intolerable for them. They do not want to liberate Palestine. They want to destroy Israel. As far as they are concerned Tel Aviv and Haifa are settlements that should be dismantled. Many of these people simply will not let go to the dream that they will one day be in a position to deliver a final fatal knock out blow to Israel. During my time in the UAE the most frightening thing I ever heard was, after 100 years of fighting we finally ousted the crusaders from Arab land, the Israeli crusade is only 60 years old. This comment signals the intent of a significant minority of Arabs to never accept a Jewish state.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Its the Jews fault

I like many around the world have been following the madness in Mumbai since Wednesday. I have been thinking since then how best to post on the event. Now that the siege has ended I feel I can reflect a bit more clearly on the whole episode. And I have to say the most dominant after thought I have is as follows. Why did the tiny, absolutely minute Jewish contingent of India become a target of Pakistani militants hell bent on causing mayhem in India. Well the truth is actually quite simple. They hate Jews, all Jews everywhere.

Rabbi Gavriel and Rivkah Holtzberg were murdered by the militants in Mumbai this week

I normally dislike seeing very complex global issues oversimplified but sometimes you have to call it like it is. The poisonous ideology behind Islamic extremism that has overtaken many national movements like that in Kashmir and Palestine believe that the Jew is behind just about every problem in the world today. They believe that the Jewish agenda to destroy Islam is so deep rooted throughout the world that you cannot contain it, you cannot fight it, all you can do is kill the Jew whenever you come across them. The last people to believe this were the Nazis. When commenting on terrorism people should be aware of this. The hatred of the Jew in the Muslim world is terrifying and it cannot be put down to the Israeli occupation of Palestine. It is much more than this. This is an issue that I intend on posting regularly in the future.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

The Sullivan Brothers

The five Sullivan brothers pictured on board the newly commissioned USS Juneau

Following on from my promise to do more posts on various World War Two anecdotes I want to do a piece on the famous fighting Sullivans. The Sullivan brothers where an Irish American family from Iowa. After Pearl Harbour Joe (24), Matt (23) and Al (20) decided to follow their older brothers George (27) and Frank (26) into the navy. The only condition was that they all serve together. Their wish was granted and in February 1942 the five brothers set sail for the Pacific on board the freshly commissioned USS Juneau.

The story of the USS Juneau is one of the wars most tragic naval incidents. In November 1942 the Juneau was part of a massive American Armada headed for the Solomon Islands in order to confront the Japanese Navy. On the 12th of November Juneau found itself escorting reinforcements to the war ravaged island of Guadalcanal (above). During the unloading the Japanese attacked and Juneau's crew spent most of that day fighting off attacks from enemy planes. In the early hours of the 13th Juneau was struck on the port side by a torpedo from an unclear source. She was severely damaged but able to flee. Along side the Helena and San Francisco who were also damaged the three ships set off for repairs at Espiritu Santos Islands. Just before 11pm on the night of the 13th the three ships came under attack from a Japanese submarine. Three torpedoes were fired at the Juneau. Two missed their target but the third struck Juneau in exactly the same place as it had been hit the day before. The Juneau broke apart instantly and sunk in less than 30 seconds. The wounded Helena and San Francisco, fearing further attacks from the Submarine continued on course and did not stop to look for survivors.

There were 725 men were aboard the Juneau. Nobody knows how many exactly survived the sinking but its thought that only 100 escaped the ship and made into the water safely. Among those killed when the torpedo struck were Frank, Joe, and Matt Sullivan. For the survivors an unbelievably hellish eight day ordeal was about to begin as due to some mix up somewhere the eventual rescuers were unsure where she had gone down. Some survivors were injured and did not last long. The youngest Sullivan brother Al was such a person. It is believed he drowned one day after the sinking. Extreme heat during the day, extreme cold at night took others and as the men began to weaken they fell victim to shark attack. As insanity kicked in some men left their rafts thinking they could see land. Around day five George Sullivan was seen swimming from raft to raft calling out for his missing brothers. He drowned sometime that day. On day eight a sea plane spotted three life rafts in the water. It landed and picked up a mere ten survivors.

The story of the Juneau and the Sullivan brothers has gone down in US naval history as one one of its darkest episodes. At the time everybody knew who the Sullivan brotheres were and avenging the Juneau became a big rallying cry. The story itself has inspired many including Stephen Spielberg who came up with the idea for Saving Private Ryan after reading about the Sullivans. The incident also resulted in the US naval decision, still standing today to separate siblings in order to prevent a repeat of Juneau. There has also been parks, school, roads and even a warship named after the Sullivans. Of the 725 men on board the Juneau when the Japanese torpedo struck on the night of the 13th there is only one living today. Frank Holmgren, pictured attending a memorial earlier this year lives in New Jersey and was one of the ten men rescued by the sea plane. What can I say, this story has overwhelmed me somewhat. The purpose of this blog is to try and make some sense of the GUBU times we are living through. But Frank Holmgren and the Sullivan brothers experienced an era more extreme and brutal that anything the 20th century has thrown at us yet. I hope it stays that way.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Conservative Americas obsession with Churchill

I have never fully understood why right wing America is so in love with Winston Churchill. The love affair was evident even throughout this years presidential election where John McCain ads regularly featured images of himself with Churchill speeches filling the background. And how many times since 9/11 have we heard the Churchill Chamberlain comparison even in situations where it was completely irrelevant. The reason I am so surprised at this hero worship is because, well, don't they know, Churchill thought America was a morally bankrupt country and he had no confidence whatsoever in the American soldiers ability to fight. Yet Reagan had a portrait of Churchill in Camp David and Bush currently has a sculpture of the British Bulldog in the Oval Office.

I'm not disputing Churchill's war time role but I am tired of how every time the US is confronted with a foreign policy dilemma somebody like John Bolton or Sean Hannity will make this lazy minded analogy of Churchill versus Chamberlain. To play the appeasement card when considering whether or not to bomb Libya or invade Grenada is amateur at best. Probably the biggest sinner here is former New York mayor Rudolph Guliani who appears to think that he is in fact Winston Churchill reincarnated. In conclusion I want to suggest that as part of the Republican party's post election autopsy they may consider searching for a new mascot other than Churchill because comparing Britain's plight in 1940 with Americas today has never seemed so utterly without substance.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Baghdad Lock down

As I have constantly pointed out the progress made in Iraq since the June 2007 surge is very fragile. At any time the "Sunni awakening" which turned many Iraqi Sunnis against Al Quaeda could be reversed. Also the ceasefire between Moqtada Al Sadr's Al Mehdi army and US forces is tenuous at best. This has become even more evident this week as AL Sadr and his supporters (pictured) increase their opposition to the new security pact between the US and the Iraqi government that permits US forces to stay in the country for another 3 years. A massive Shiite protest is due in Iraq today against the security pact, due to go before parliament next week. Baghdad is in lock down as a result. How Sadr's supporters react to the massive security clamp down is unclear but I think it is quiet possible that the ceasefire could be over by the weekend.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Gaza ceasefire hanging by a thread

The bodies of two Palestinian militants lay near a mortar launcher after an Israeli airstrike in Gaza, November 16, 2008.

The five month old Egyptian brokered ceasefire between Hamas and the IDF appears to be coming to an end. This is bad news and not just for obvious reasons. If the situation deteriorates further it will no doubt play into the hands of the right wing Likud party who will likely win next Februaries election as a result. This will return Benjamin Netenyahu to power who has been calling for a pre emptive strike against Iran's nuclear facilities. In addition he is the least likely Israeli leader to compromise on the vital issues particularly on the need for Israel to dismantle Jewish settlements in the west bank. I have been predicting that the liberal wave sweeping across America at the moment might also land on Israel's shores. If so, then perhaps a real effort to achieve a lasting peace between Israel and Palestine might take off. During eight years of Bush rule very little effort has ever been made to really push both sides to do what we all know they have to. I fear that under Netenyahu leadership, the former Prime Minister will be unable to separate himself from his far right supporters that have been calling for military action on Iran, no dismantling of settlements and no compromise on the final status of Jerusalem. This that would naturally be a setback for any plans that Obama has to initiate a detailed peace plan. Watch the clip below on the Gaza violence.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Another Irishman killed in Afghanistan

I posted in September on the death of Justin Cupples, the Cavan man killed in action in Afghanistan while serving with the Royal Irish Regiment. It has happened again. Yesterday 32 year old Mayo man Robert McKibben (pictured) who was serving with the royal marines was killed by a road side bomb in Helmand provence. As I have said before that I hate to think of an Irishman dying in a foreign war under a foreign flag but if thats the life he wanted who am I to judge. His death has added significance this week as many Irish households have been discussing the 90th anniversary of the end of the First World War and wondering how it should be remembered in this country. Over 200,000 Irish fought for the crown between 1914 and 1918, 35,000 of whom never came home. For some reason which is beyond me, this issue remains today as a point of contention. So much so that those in the mainstream political establishment do not wear poppies nor do they attend commemorations for the fallen. 90 years on, this is truly bizarre. What can I say, I am an Irish nationalist and it has never bothered me that so many signed up to fight for Britain. And in any case who really cares who they were fighting for and what the cause was. The historical fact is that 35,000 young Irishmen lost their lives in a war, and the Irish state and the people should play a central role in remembering them today. And whatever historical hang ups Irish people have about The Great War the nation should offer their sympathies to the family of Robert McKibben. I don't expect his death to be treated as if he had died in Chad fighting with Oglaigh Na Heireann but I do hope his sacrifice is recognised by the media and the Department of Defense. It would be a natural step given the mature way we discussed this week the role of the Irishman in the British armed forces.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

"W" on Iraq

I saw Oliver Stone's "W" last night and unlike the critics I liked it. In particular I liked the scenes with his cabinet where they were discussing the pros and cons of invading Iraq and afterward why it went wrong. The best scene was one with Dr David Kay who as head of the Iraq Survey Group was responsible for finding the weapons of mass destruction after the invasion. In this scene he is meeting with Bush and the cabinet and has to explain why he has been unable to find any of these weapons. His description of what went wrong is perfect. He makes a vital point surrounding the entire Iraq fiasco that is often missed by the main stream media which is as follows. Sadam Hussein had no WMD's but for some reason he acted like he did. He did play cat and mouse with the weapons inspectors and he did appear like he had something to hide. Why ? The answer as Dr Kay explains to a slack jawed Bush is because he wanted his own people to think that he had. The belief that Sadam possessed biological and chemical weapons was the regimes biggest defence against an internal uprising. Such was Shia and Kurdish fear of a repeat of the gas attack on Halabjah in 1988 that they fell into Sadam's line.

And here in is the greatest tragedy of the Iraq war. If the UN weapons inspectors had been allowed to carry out their work then they would have exposed what we now know to be true which is that Sadam was in fact a weak dictator. By exposing this fact it would have triggered an internal uprising which would have led to his downfall. Half a million people would not have spilled their guts on the streets of Iraq and every Jihadist in the middle east would not have set sail for Iraq to kill as many Americans (eventually succeeding in killing 4000 of them) as they could and we of course would be living today in a safer more stable world. But W saw it differently back in March 03.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Well done Le Niamh

The Le Niamh, intercepted a yacht with €500 worth of cocaine

The Irish Navy is being credited today with a massive drugs haul following a sting operation in the Atlantic. The Offshore Patrol Vessel Le Niamh, captained by Orla Gallagher, Ireland's first female skipper, intercepted a yacht some 170 kilometers off the Cork coast late last night. On board was over half a billion worth of cocaine, wow! The three British men on board have been transferred to Bantry and Bandon Garda Stations. It appears that the interception was the culmination of many months of inter agency cooperation between the British, Irish, Spanish and Portuguese authorities. I have been arguing for some time now that Ireland needs a larger and more effective navy. This illustrates why. This is by far the largest seizure of drugs in the history of the Irish state. No doubt many more of a similar size have got through in the past. There is no place for the relaxed Irish attitude here. Major Colombian and Caribbean drug gangs have obviously figured out that Ireland is a soft touch when it comes to introducing cocaine into Europe, no doubt leaving a few bails here for Ireland's scumbags to fight over, before they get the ferry to England.

Israel concerned about Obama

There is no doubt that Israel is skeptical of Obama. They fear he may be too soft on Iran. John McCain was clearly favoured in Israel because throughout the campaign he regularly spoke about the need to protect Israel and ensure that there will never again be another holocaust. This naturally went down well with Israelis as it meant that he understood their plight. Israelis are furious that we in Europe apparently don't get that a nuclear Iran would be capable of carrying out what its President has threatened (albeit vaguely) to do. Even if he were not to carry out his threat to wipe Israel off the map directly, the possibility that he or some gang within his regime could do a deal with Hezbollah that would manifest itself in the form of a mushroom cloud over Tel Aviv is very real. So Israel is naturally concerned that Obama does not fully appreciate this position.

On Thursday evening Israeli foreign minister, and possible Prime Minister come Februaries election, cautioned Obama on his readiness to talk to Iran stating that it could be perceived as a sign of weakness in efforts to persuade Tehran to curb its nuclear program.. Personally I don't agree. You legitimize the regime by meeting with it, John McCain would say. Well I got news for ya folks. The regime already has got legitimacy both in the eyes of its people and the rest of the world. It is recognised and has full relations with everyone except Washington. Not talking to Iran has never achieved anything. Talking to them and acknowledging that they too have security concerns and genuine grievances is not a sign of weakness but in fact of maturity. Talking to an enemy is not appeasement, giving something away is. So go Obama, have a chat with Ahmadinejad. You could even go to Tehran, its not a bad city, I've been, they do lovely Kebabs. Go and see what progress can be made. It is better to look them in the eyes and tell them that you will never allow them go nuclear than to continue this game of cat and mouse. Listen to the views of some Jerusalem locals on the Obama phenomenon.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

There are no excuses anymore

I think many may have missed the real text of Obama's victory speech this morning. At least the opening part below where he proclaims. If there is anyone out there who doubts that America is a place where all things are possible... tonight is your answer Is this his message to black America that there are no longer any excuses for underachieving. That America is a fair place and that if you fail it is not the system that failed you. Or am I seeing to much here. I can't help remember Bill O'Reilly's comments a few weeks ago when he stated that many black Americans fear that an Obama victory will remove the oppressed minority argument from the equation. Because as of today, to be black in America is to be part of the establishment. The President elect, the man who ultimately calls the shots and who hold so much power is black. America is no longer a country run by rich white people as Reverend Wright would put it. Was this Obama's angle. What ye think ?

President Obama

Obama is President elect. His landslide victory became clear early enough as the swing states of Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Florida fell one by one in his favor. Today is a great day for America and the world.

I have already heard one eccentric American woman on TV cry hopefully the world wont hate us so much anymore. This upset me because I never hated America, nor did I even dislike it. But America did disappoint me and I was bitter. I was bitter at how the optimism which accompanied the dawn of the new millennium was crushed by Bush. I was bitter that an era that should have been a great era for humanity turned out to be a a disastrous one filled with war, poverty and crisis after crisis. The first ten years of the 21st century have been wasted. A time without superpower rivalry and with a communications revolution should have heralded a new era of international cooperation with the purpose of tackling issues like poverty and international conflicts. But instead we had all the GUBU events described in my profile. The worst of which was of course Iraq. George Bush and his crew invaded Iraq, not for oil, Al Qaeda or WMD but to flex Americas muscles at the beginning of a new century and to illustrate their view of American power and how it should be applied in the world. And the consequences of this political experiment left hundreds of thousands dead and and created instability and uncertainty throughout the region and the world. This was an unforgivable act that left a stain on America that will be very difficult to remove. But today's result is a good step. Obama I hope will prove to be just as effective a consensus builder globally as he has been nationally. He will succeed in creating a coalition to deal with Iran. He will be tough with Russia but respect that they too have legitimate security concerns. He will strive to achieve a peace agreement between Israel and Palestine. He will use his extraordinary powers of persuasion in Pakistan and most importantly he will appeal to the Muslim masses and court them away from extremism. Well done America. You chose well.

Not Just Yet

I'm not calling it just yet. And I'm leaving the Button factory in Dublin's Temple Bar because I'm sick of David McWilliams shouting at the people at the bar who were drowning out the debate to shut up, and in one case roaring, if you don't wanna listen will ya please fuck off ! I will post about this interesting Irish American event in the next couple of days. For now, I'm off to bed because I'm knackered. If things continue the way they are at present I will call it for Obama first thing in the morning. Sleep well and dream of, well an interesting next four years.

The Jewish Vote

Who do Jews Vote for ? The simple truth is they vote the same way as everyone else. Conservative Jews vote republican and liberal Jews vote democrat. Many conservative Jews, such as my good friends over at Seraphic Secret appear to take great exception to Jews voting for Obama and even claim that they are turning their backs on their faith and Israel. Perhaps this satirical video entitled Jews for McCain might help bridge this divide and offer some insight into the fact that possibly as many as 75 % of American Jews appear to be voting for Obama.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Interesting Fact

When was last time the republicans won a presidential election when there was neither a Bush or a Nixon on the ticket ? Anyone !

Why Vote for Obama

I want Barack Obama to be President for the following reasons. The issues that I blog about are the Israeli Palestinian conflict, Iran, Iraq and Afghanistan. These are issues that require a multilateral approach. Presidential power is about the ability to persuade. Obama is a communicator who has an extraordinary ability to articulate his message. Contrast this to George Bush. very few world leaders are interested in impressing him. Why should they ? Despite the fact that he is commander in chief of the worlds most powerful military and holds immense political and economic power, George Bush has been unable to persuade Pakistan to root out Al Quaeda along the border with Afghanistan. He has been unable to generate an international consensus on how to handle the Iranian nuclear crisis and his efforts to bring peace to the holy land have been nothing short of pathetic. I cannot see McCain improving in any of these areas. McCain thinks its 1980 again and America is unclear of its role in the world and therefor needs a Ronald Reagan to aggressively win the war on terror just as Reagan won the cold war. McCain is a cold war warrior with a 20th century mentality.

Vote for Obama/Biden

There is a lot at stake in this election. Do not listen to those that say this election will change nothing. Not true. John McCain and Barack Obama will have radically different approaches to the issues that I regularly blog about. Where as Obama will build the grandest global coalition of all time to fight the worlds problems, McCain wants to "follow Bin Laden to the gates of hell". I am afraid he will, and that he will drag the rest of the world with him. So please, any Americans reading this, vote Obama. I am not a rampant liberal. I believe there is a time for conservative politics and a time for more liberal politics. Today November 4th is a time for America to be brought back to the center of the global effort to ensure that the 21st century is one of peace where the rule of law governs International affairs.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Sarah Palin 2012

Assuming McCain loses tomorrow it is becoming increasingly clear that Sarah Palin is being groomed to be the republican presidential candidate for 2012. I have always maintained my surprise that George Bush's neo conservative crew failed to groom a successor. It seems clear to me that a moderate republican is unelectable because they are unable to effectively rally the christian right base. I personally think that many evangelicals want Obama to win in the hope that he will crash and burn (Jimmy Carter style) driving the final nail into the coffin of liberal ideology. This would pave the way for Sarah Palin to run in 2012 and storm to victory much how Reagan did over Carter in 1980. This is my theory anyway and I'm sticking to it. I think many on this side of the pond do not appreciate the extent to which John McCain has angered his own crowd over the years. He may be a hawk on Russia, the war on terror ect but on social issue he regularly clashes with the christian right famously saying in 2000 that Pastors Gerry Falwell and Pat Robertson were agents of intolerance. Consequently the massive evangelical electorate could never get behind McCain they way they did Reagan and Bush. If he loses, that's ultimately the reason. Sarah Palin on the other hand looks like she was created in an evil evangelical laboratory and will no doubt, in the event of an Obama victory begin on Wednesday morning her campaign to win back the white house for the real republicans in 2012. Lets just hope she is more statesman like than this.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Re-distributor in Chief

John McCain's closing argument in the US presidential election is that he is running to be Commander in Chief where as Barack Obama is running to be Re-distributor in Chief. Pretty lame it has to be said. McCain and Palin's last throw of the dice appears to be to paint Obama as a socialist that wants to punish the successful. Focusing on his plan to increase taxes for the richest 5% and a newly discovered 2001radio interview where Obama claimed that the civil right movement in the 1960's failed to re distribute wealth to the black community (seems reasonable to me) McCain has decided to pounce on this and hammer in home in swing states between now and Tuesday. I don't think the public are buying it. Obama responded nicely by claiming next they're going to accuse me of being a secret communist because I used to share my toys in kinder garden. Obama's half hour infomercial aired on Wednesday has I think alleviated any fears in main stream America that he's a dangerous radical. Obama has it. As I keep repeating, just don't screw up, don't even bother going in for the kill. Just coast over the line because at this stage McCain needs Obama to give it to him.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Netenyahu to be Israel's next PM

Tzipi Livni has failed in her attempt as leader of the Kadima party to form a new coalition government. The ongoing effort since Ehud Olmert's resignation last month collapsed when negotiations broke down between Kadima and the ultra orthodox Shas party. This means that Ehud Olmert will remain on as caretaker Prime minister until the outcome of the next election which will now probably take place next month. This is a blow to Livni, the current foreign minister, as it means she does not automatically become PM after Olmert's resignation but will instead have to face the electorate. Most pundits agree that the Kadima party will not fair well in a general election as it is tainted by Olmert's corruption allegations and the ineffectual leadership during the July 06 war with Hezbollah. A general election will most likely see a return to power off the Likud party under the leadership of former PM Benjamin Netanyahu.

Benjamin Netenyahu will likely be elected Prime Minister of Israel next month

Netanyahu is a hawk. As PM from 1996 to 1999 he rarely negotiated with Arafat, was against dismantling Jewish settlements and in 2005 he resigned from Ariel Sharon's government in protest at the disengagement from Gaza. Today he is uncompromising on the final status of Jerusalem, the return of Palestinian refugees and the Iranian nuclear crisis where ha has called for a preemptive strike. Netanyahu is popular in Israel. He has in some ways been proven right both on Gaza and Lebanon. I predict he will lead Likud back to power in the next election. That is unless of course the liberal wave sweeping across America at present also sweeps across Israel in the wake of an Obama landslide next Tuesday. Who knows, the election of Obama could lead many Israelis to consider giving peace another chance.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Strike on Syria

A video has appeared on the Internet appearing to show footage of Sunday's helicopter strike by US forces inside Syrian territory. The tape also displays images of the bloody aftermath that left several civilians dead. The strike it is claimed was a specific hit on one of the main Syrian facilitators that operates a weapons and insurgent smuggling racket in and out of Iraq.

I am surprised that this has not become more of an election issue as it is an identical situation to the controversial Afghan issue of using that occupied country to launch cross border attacks into Al Quaeda controlled parts of Pakistan, a thorny topic that both presidential candidates have frequently been quizzed about. I would have thought this is especially more complicated and potentially explosive in Iraq because of the possibility that the US might use Iraq to launch a total war against either Syria or Iran, something which would obviously put the Iraqi government in an impossible position. Particularly since there is a provision in the Iraqi constitution that says Iraq should not be used by the Americans as a base for an attack on its neighbours. It is not known yet if the Maliki government in Baghdad was aware in advance of Sunday's attack. If they were then they would have been in violation of their constitution. Oh it feels good to be doing a piece on something other than the presidential race.

Friday, October 24, 2008

This guy is adorable

Barack Obama is flying to Hawaii today to visit his sick 85 year old white granny. He will return to the campaign trail on Saturday where he is scheduled to save a puppy from a burning building.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Hey Ronnie Reagan

Apparently Christy Moore was not a fan of Ronald Reagan. Who would have guessed. He even wrote a song to demonstrate. What masterful words from Ireland's greatest song writer. Hey Ronnie Reagan... I'm black and I'm pagan I'm gay and I'm left and I'm free. I'm an un-fundamentalist environmentalist... please don't bother me.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

When Clowns Run for President

Political comedy in the states is running amuck ! Not surprising really, the material is there at present. With one presidential candidate being a funky black man and the other being a senile old war hero, not to mention Joey the shark and the hockey mom, the comedians are in take the piss heaven. And its not just Saturday Night Live, Letterman, Leno, Bill Maher and Jon Stewart, even the candidates themselves are getting in on the act. Watch McCain and Obama have a go at stand up comedy at the annual Al Smith dinner in New York and tell me, who do you think is funnier ?

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Colin Powell endorses Barack Obama

Former Secretary of State during George Bush's first term Colin Powell has endorsed Barack Obama. Speaking earlier today on MSNBC's Meet the Press he said he was supporting the democrat because of his extraordinary ability to communicate his message to young people and the rest of the world. Today is a bad day for John McCain. Colin Powell, a republican, a former Secretary of State, National Security Advisor and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff has a lot of street cred in Washington. His endorsement of Obama will reassure many hesitant voters that Obama is not a hard core leftist, as the McCain campaign have been trying to convey. If he were, the shrewd general would not be backing him. Powell like McCain is a Vietnam veteran and a politician that is seen as being close to the soldier, not the kind to send men off to war without understanding the consequences. So McCain's public endorsement of Obama is another big boost for the Illinois senator.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Americans and political satire

As I have said before on this blog, the yanks have replaced the Brits as the kings when it comes to political comedy. Watch this clip below and imagine if the presidential debates were taking place on HBO. Fans of The Sopranos will like this. Click on the link below for more brilliant political satire from The Onion, War for The White House.

Was There Too Much Sex And Profanity In The HBO Presidential Debate?

Who is Joe the Plumber ?

Anybody watching this weeks final presidential debate in the US will be asking this question. The reason being that he was mentioned about 20 times during the debate. To answer the question, his name is Joe Wurzelbacher from Ohio. He confronted Obama on the campaign trail this week and expressed concerns that Obama's tax plan would hamper his efforts to buy his plumbing business. Watch the confrontation below.

America being the somewhat funny place that it is, Joe the plumber has become something of a celebrity. During Wednesday's debate both candidate addressed the man directly. This has led to a media frenzy surrounding poor Joe. All mainstream media outlets have tried to get him on record. They all want to know who he is voting for. Is he going to stick with McCain, the natural choice for him or did Obama win him over in the above clip. So far the wily plumber is remaining tight lipped. As for the debate itself. Obama won, and by win I mean it was a draw but a draw is as good as a win for Obama because as I keep saying all he needs to do is break even and allow his momentum to carry him over the line. At this late stage, I don't think Joe the Plumber's endorsement will make much of a difference.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Whats wrong with John McCain

Why is John McCain so far behind in the polls ? It seems a long time ago since St Paul when his post convention bump had McCain as favourite to be the 44th President. But that was jut five weeks ago. What has happened since. Today most pollsters say its going to be President Obama in January. I have a theory. The sub prime crisis in the states has obviously hurt McCain but most conservative analysts in the US are angry at him for not seizing an opportunity amidst all the chaos. He has consistently failed to tap into the anger on main street at the gross incompetence of several CEO's, many of whom have links to the democrats. He has appeared unsure of himself and of where his anger should be directed and I know why.

Ronald Reagan believed in the total deregulation of the market

On many occasions throughout the campaign John McCain has spoken about his two political idols, Ronald Reagan and Teddy Roosevelt. Both of these former Presidents despite serving during completely different times had a similar view of the world. John McCain clearly shares this view of projecting American power around the world. We all know John McCain's foreign policy credentials. We know where he stands and what he believes about Russia, Iraq, Iran and the wider war on terror. A mere 18 months ago he is on record as saying that foreign policy is his strength and that he is weak on macroeconomics. We should not be surprised, he is a military man. So when the unprecedented global financial crisis struck last month John McCain had to look to his two inspirations for guidance and there in lies the problem.

Teddy Roosevelt confronted Wall Street and the tycoons

Ronald Reagan and Teddy Roosevelt were polar opposite on the role of the free market. Reagan was probably the 20th century's biggest advocate of deregulation. If he were alive today he would be defending wall street and most likely insisting that the problem was caused by excessive attempts at regulating the mortgage industry to cater for the poor. Teddy on the other hand, the crusader against the tycoon, hero of the working man and nemesis of JP Morgan would probably want to tear wall street down in the wake of the fiasco. So John McCain was left asking himself on the crisis, am I a Ronald Reagan or a Teddy Roosevelt, and I don't think he has quite managed to answer it. For all his campaigns talk of "Who is Barack Obama"? we don't really know who McCain is when it comes to the role of the free market and this has been exposed. Obama has not excelled in recent weeks but at least we know where he stands. He believes that wall street has to be properly regulated. As I have maintained in previous posts, all he has to do now is break even, don't screw up and allow his momentum to carry him over the line while voters continue to blame the republicans and McCain fails to portray a clear message on the crisis.

The final debate is tonight. John McCain has one last chance to turn it around. Unless he goes all out for it and successfully blames the democrats for the crisis and the audience buys it, his presidential ambitions are dead as disco.

Fundraiser for Obama in Dublin

Over 100 US citizens gathered in Dublin on Sunday at the Dalkey home of Moira Shipsey to raise money for Barack Obama's bid for the White House. Ms Shipsey is a prominent refugee lawyer who is married to senior counsel Bill Shipsey. The Shipsey's teamed up with Kate Fitzgerald, who chairs Ireland's chapter of Democrats Abroad to launch the event. Attending the fundraiser were a variety of well known personalities most notably Daniel Day Lewis and his wife, novelist and filmmaker Rebecca Miller. Also attending was US-Ireland Alliance president Trina Vargo who advises Barack Obama on Irish issues.

I do not know how much money the event managed to raise. In order to attend the fund raiser a minimum donation of $100 was required. The maximum donation permitted per person by US law is $2300. The money raised will go to the Obama campaign's efforts to win over the swing states. Lets face it, the money raised in Dalkey is a mere drop in the ocean. But symbolically though, it will I think help Obama. This event will be well documented in Irish America and will help reassure the Irish vote that Obama is sensitive to Irish issues. I wonder, republicans abroad, do they exist ? and if so what kind of numbers could they pull in at a fundraiser abroad. It is difficult to imagine how John McCain's message would appeal to many living oversees. Maybe in Georgia, Israel or South Korea but that I reckon is that.

Monday, October 13, 2008

The World is Still Spinning

Any of my regular readers here at GUBU will have noticed that the US election is beginning to dominate this blog. I cannot help it as its just such good craic. However its not just me. Over the last number of weeks the main stream media has been so focused on events in the US combined with the global financial crisis that many issues of tremendous importance have barely been reported on. But let me assure you, the world is still spinning. Governments are rising and falling and people are still butchering people for being of the incorrect religion or race or what have ya. Here is a small sample of some of these happenings that in less remarkable times, would be global front page news.

The death of Jorg Haider occurred this week. The charismatic far right 58 year old Austrian politician was killed in a single car accident while on his way to a family gathering. Haider is the only politician from the far right to gain any position of authority in European Union. This has proved a massive embarrassment to Vienna which has had to deal with EU sanction as a result and even calls for Austria's expulsion from the Union. It is unclear what effect Haider's death will have on the far right in Austria. He may be seen as a martyr or his neo fascist politics may fizzle out as a result of his death.

There is a vicious war going on in Pakistan's South Waziristan, a federal district along the Afghan border. The war is being fought between the Pakistani army, with occasional help (sought or unsought) from the US Air force, and Taliban fighters. South Waziristan has not been under the control of the central government in Islamabad for many years but following the deteriorating security situation in Afghanistan the Pakistanis have, under massive pressure from the US launched an all out offensive to retake the Provence. There is it appears large scale fighting going on with high levels of civilian casualties. The Taliban have retaliated against this offensive in their own way, most notable the bombing of the Marriott hotel in Islamabad last month that killed over fifty foreigners.

A massive bomb crater in front of the Marriott hotel after last months attack

The Middle East
There has been a series of blasts throughout the Middle East. Scores have been killed in last ten days in blasts in Beirut, Baghdad and Damascus.

There has been an upsurge in violence in the last month in Iraq. While not comparable to 2006 levels there has been a noticeable increase in car bombings. Most of the tension has been caused by the "sons of Iraq" and their refusal to absorb, or to be allowed absorb into the Iraqi army. Similarly tension is growing between the Iraqi government and the Shiite militias that agreed to a ceasefire last year. While the ceasefire is holding it is very fragile and several recent clashes have led to fears of it falling apart. This would significantly undo all the progress of the surge. Just another regular chapter of these Gubu times and the Gubu World that we live in.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

What Obama Should Have Said

Obama is winning this election. It will be President Obama in January if he keeps his cool in the face of McCain's increasingly personal attacks. However there is one foreign policy point which I feel he has missed many opportunities to make, including at yesterdays debate. The three most important foreign policy issues the next president will have to deal with are Iran, Pakistan and Russia. The primary reason the Bush Administration has misfired in these areas, particularly within the Middle East is because Washington's diplomatic power has dried up rendering it incapable of persuading friend and foe alike of the need to pursue a certain course of action. Bush's unilateralism combined with his administrations arrogance and the general contempt in which its held around the world means that America despite it enormous military, economic and diplomatic strength has been unable to convince the Pakistanis to crack down on Taliban militants along the border region with Afghanistan. This despite the fact that Bush handed the Pakistani government 10 billion dollars a year for the last seven years. Likewise the Iranians despite massive regional and global opposition just will not bow to US pressure. And why should they ? America under Bush has not been respected even by its allies. Those on the American right that love to mock and belittle those who talk about the Europeans (to the extent where they ridiculed Obamas speech in Berlin) as if its a dirty word should consider this. An Obama administration will build consensus among the Europeans and the Arabs that will make it impossible for the Iranians to stand alone on the anti American card. An Obama administration will make it clear to whoever is running Pakistan in January that it is going to be in their national interest to wipe Al Qaeda out, not just contain them. I believe that if Obama would make this point more aggressively, McCain is toast.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Obama Wins, technically

I think Obama won it. Its not so much that he trounced McCain its that he played to break even which is all he needs to do at present. John McCain is losing this election mainly because the American public blame the republican party, rightly or wrongly, for the financial meltdown and they are ultimately going to take that out on McCain. Consequently I think Obama does not intend to land a knock out blow. I think he is trying to allow his momentum carry him over the line. Unfortunately for us political junkies that means the debates, like last nights, are going to be a bit boring. Unless that is, McCain in the knowledge that he is losing, decides to go on a major offensive. You can see already he is developing a real personal dislike for Obama. Watch the frosty post debate handshake.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Homer tries to vote

Republican dirty tricks yet again. Eight years ago it was the fiasco in Florida. In 2008 the GOP are up to the same type of skulduggery, this time its Springfield in every ones favourite state. Watch as poor aul Homer is conned out of his democratic right.

John McCain on Northern Ireland

It appears that Irish America is beginning to turn solidly behind Barack Obama. Irish Americans have traditionally voted democrat but there was a fear that McCain might nudge his way into this constituency as a result of bitter Hillary Clinton supporters, many of whom are Irish Americans, and because of Obama's position on the special envoy to Northern Ireland. However any fear of this trend becoming a more standard pattern is waning mainly thanks to the financial crisis which is hurting McCain big time in the polls. And in an article in The Irish Times yesterday, that was also circulated around the US, former ambassador to Ireland Jean Kennedy Smyth, Sister of Jack, Bobby and Ted, illustrated how John McCain consistently opposed Bill Clinton's efforts in Northern Ireland.

Jean Kennedy Smyth, center, was US ambassador to Ireland from 1993 to 1998, pictured here along side John Hume and Liz O'Donnell.

According to the former ambassador, John McCain described Clinton's role in Northern Ireland as "mistaken". He vehemently opposed Bill Clinton's decision to grant Gerry Adams a US visa in 1993 and further criticised the Presidents decision to invite the Sinn Fein chief to the White House. Any scholar of the Northern Irish peace process knows that this was a pivotal moment in its success. The process itself has now become a model for conflict resolution throughout the world. Any American that doubts this or wishes to trivialise Clinton's role in Northern Ireland should keep in mind the respect an admiration Bill Clinton earned for himself and his country throughout Ireland and Europe for his Irish endeavour. They should further remember that this respect paid dividends in countless ways to the benefit of American national interest. This as we know was completely undone by the Bush administration.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

"W" the Movie

Oliver Stone's latest political movie continues the trend of presidential biographies following on from JFK and Nixon. His next masterpiece is simply entitled W and I just can't wait. It explores the life of George W. Bush from his hard drinking college years through to his presidency. It is due out in the states just before the election, no doubt in order persuade the electorate away from voting republican. Watch the trailer below. Look out for James Cromwell playing Bush senior and Richard Dreyfus playing Dick Cheney.

Here is a clip where Josh Brolin, playing Bush, meets his future wife Laura for the first time.

And here is another little teaser.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Both Fail to Land Knockout Blow

Have you ever noticed in sport how in the run up to a long awaited match expectations are dashed when the game turns out to be a dull draw. Well that's how I would describe the Palin Biden debate in the wee hours of this morning. Both were cautious and both, particularly Biden did not put the boot in. Perhaps out of fear both candidates danced around the ring and failed to land a knock out blow. Likewise, everybody was waiting for a gaffe from either candidate, it never came. I do not think this debate will have a significant impact on this campaign contrary to what I suggested in the last post. I'm a little disappointed. The highlight of the debate however was when Joe Biden began to choke up when talking about raising his two kids alone after his wife and child were killed in an accident. No doubt it will go down well with the sentimental yanks.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Biden Debates Palin

In a couple of hours time Joe Biden and Sarah Palin will go head to head in the only vice presidential debate. I am not going to wait up to watch it because, I'm just not. However I eagerly await the repeat on RTE news tomorrow morning. It should be fascinating. Usually the Vice Presidential debate, in fact their entire campaigns have little effect on the overall ticket. However this year it is different. The controversial pick of the particularly inexperienced Palin has led to a media scrutinizing of the Alaska Governor. If she messes up this debate as she has several TV interviews it could be a serious blow for the McCain campaign. Unless I and most commentators out there have seriously underestimated Palin I expect Biden to run away with it. Here is a taste of what we can expect. Watch how Palin and Biden respond to the same question from CBS's Katie Couric about Roe V Wade, the most controversial law in America that legalises abortion. Who do you think answers more convincingly ?

John McCain on Spain

I want to bring to the attention of GUBU readers a minor enough incident that occurred in the US Presidential campaign last week. What first appeared to be a serious gaff by John McCain gradually fizzled out amongst all the headline grabbing news related to the financial crisis. Basically in an interview with a Florida radio station McCain was asked if he would meet face to face with a series of Latin American leaders. He gave a rather predictable answer of " I would meet with anyone with comparable values". He was then asked if he would invite Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luiz Zapatero (Pictured) to the White House. He responded by giving an identical answer to the previous question about Castro, Chavez and co. When the interviewer clarified that she was referring to Spain he stuck to his guns. This immediately struck a cord with me. In the years since 9/11 no example of bad blood between Europe and the USA has angered me more than conservative America absurd interpretation of the events surrounding the 2004 Madrid bombings and the subsequent general election in that country. And I believe that John McCain had this in mind when he referred to Spain in his answer.

The March 2004 Madrid Bombings that claimed 191 lives

Right wing America has always mocked Spain for what they see as the Spanish electorate giving into Al Qaeda. A little background might help. Under the conservative leadership of Jose Maria Aznar Spain was probably Europe's most ardent supporters of George Bush's war on terror. In 2003 Aznar backed the invasion of Iraq and sent the second largest contingent of European troops after Britain, to fight in the war. This decision was extremely unpopular with the Spanish public. Then on March 11th 2004 a series of coordinated bombs murdered 191 people throughout Madrid's railway system. The attack occurred three days before a general election. Immediately after the attacks Prime Minister Aznar placed the blame on the Basque separatist group ETA even going so far as to instruct Spanish diplomats world wide to continue to imply that ETA was responsible even after ETA denied involvement and evidence came to light that suggested it was an Islamist group. In addition it was clear to most that the March 11th attack was on a far greater scale than anything done before by domestic Spanish terrorists and the likelihood of ETA being behind it was slim. However Aznar, who had led a crusade against ETA for decades held firm in public that the Basques were responsible. Three days later the Spanish electorate punished him for this. Zapatero's left wing government was elected and the new Prime Minister fulfilled his pre election promise to pull out all Spanish troops from Iraq.

Jose Maria Aznar Meeting President Bush at the Azores summit in 2003

This is not however how conservative America saw it. In America they ignored the fact that post Franco politics in Spain had swung between conservative and liberal governments every couple of elections and that after 8 years in power the Aznar government was deeply unpopular for a number of reasons. Some in American found it difficult to understand that a Spanish election was actually about Spanish issues. So, led by the right wing radio and TV hosts and followed by some political figures a position became popular that projected the Spanish people and its new government as weak and cowardly. The myth was spread that the Al Qaeda linked group that bombed Madrid did so in the hope that the Aznar government would be removed and that Spanish troops would ultimately be pulled out of Iraq. "Al Qaeda achieved regime change in Spain easier than we did in Iraq" and "We have lost Spain" were common headlines. The anti Spanish rhetoric basically claimed that the Spanish people were bombed into submission by Al queda and that they purposely voted in the government that they knew would remove Spanish troops from Iraq out of fear of future bombings. This is utter fiction but it is popular fiction and I have no doubt that John McCain deliberately played to this right wing populist rhetoric by lumping Prime Minister Zapatero in with Castro and Chavez and co. To do this with a democratic country like Spain, an EU and NATO ally is of course ridiculous and offensive but I have to say with genuine regret, John McCain's campaign is going increasingly in that direction.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Is a Century of Warfare Ahead

Any of my regular readers here at GUBU know that my motivation for beginning this blog was to make some sense of the geopolitical madness that has characterised the 21st century so far. I have feared for some time now that global events are coming together in a way that are leading us down the path of global depression and war. Basically conditions exist today, not unlike the 1930's that could lead us into a massive global conflict probably before the midpoint of the century. I believed until recently that the only condition not yet here that would confirm my hypothesis was some sort of global financial meltdown. With global stock markets taking a pounding and banks going under all over the world I think its safe to say to say that that moment is almost upon us.

Global stocks plummeted yesterday after the US House of Representatives failed to pass the $700 billion dollar bailout bill

My one single biggest political conviction is that the current international political system as it exists today is unsustainable and that it might very well break down just as it did in 1939. This I fear could lead us into a century even more disastrous than the last. Allow me to elaborate on the conditions with which I speak of and the International Political system that is supposed to manage it. I am referring to conditions such as: the population explosion of the southern hemisphere combined with the global food and energy shortage, the rise of India and China, a militant Russia, A Muslim world wrestling with modernity and Global Warming. It has become increasingly obvious to me that the International Political System and its institutions are incapable of dealing with these issues. International Organisations such as the UN while sound in concept are just not up to the challenge and as we have seen this week the global financial institutions are a total mess. Since the UN is unable to handle global crisis it is left to nation states who unfortunately still operate on a primitive 2oth century view of national interest. They are almost prevented by nature from approaching a problem from a global perspective. As a student of International Relations I became aware that the nature of relations between states was and continues to be based on national self interest. This is still the case at a time when international cooperation has never been more urgent.

An all too common image of extreme poverty in the impoverished south

I do not know what the solution is is but I do know the direction we must go in. There has to be more International law regarding the conduct of international relations. The national interest of one country cannot come at the blatant expense of another. Perhaps a single energy market could do for the world what the single market has done for Europe. And there simply has to be much more regulation (not necessarily in the form of barriers) of the global economy to prevent the sort of madness that we have seen in recent days. The stark reality is that this should be a wonderful time for humanity but its slowly spiraling into catastrophic one. The beginning of the millennium was a time of such optimism, where did it all go wrong ? I do not know but when you consider all the above it becomes increasingly easier to imagine a 21st century even more bloodier than the last.

Last time the International Political System broke down these guys said they knew what to do

Monday, September 29, 2008

Too Close to Call

Due to my hectic social life I only managed to see Friday's Presidential debate today. The first of three it took place at the University of Mississippi and it was chaired by Jim Lehrer of PBS. Because of the GUBU times that we live in I thought that foreign policy would have been the dominant issue in this election. However with the financial crisis worsening by the hour it looks like this will overshadow all other topics. This was certainly the case at Friday's debate. This will probably help Obama as Foreign Policy is seen as McCain's strength and the economy as his weakness although Obama will regret not having more of an opportunity to hammer McCain at the debates for his support of the worst foreign policy administration in living memory.

I am not sure who came out on top in this one. It was probably even. What ye think ? Frankly I think we all know where these two men stand on all the various issues and the next two debates are likely to be similar stalemates. It may even turn out that the vice presidential debates turn out to be more influential on the electorate. Regarding McCain and Obama I think what we have to look out for is gaffes, blunders, howlers, foot in mouth syndrome of which McCain is more likely to fall victim to. We have seen this in previous debates. The most famous of which is probably President Ford's debate with Jimmy Carter where he clumsily claimed that Eastern Europe was not under Soviet domination. On reflection most of us no what poor Gerry was trying to say but it is widely believed to have caused him the election. This election could be so close that it literally could come down to the slightest slip of the tongue. I anxiously await debates 2 and 3.

Friday, September 26, 2008

John McCain Loses a Fan

Watch David Letterman let loose at McCain for cancelling his appearance on The Tonight Show