WEST POINT, N.Y. — Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates bluntly told an audience of West Point cadets on Friday that it would be unwise for the United States to ever fight another war like Iraq or Afghanistan, and that the chances of carrying out a change of government in that fashion again were slim.

“In my opinion, any future defense secretary who advises the president to again send a big American land army into Asia or into the Middle East or Africa should ‘have his head examined,’ as General MacArthur so delicately put it,” Mr. Gates told an assembly of Army cadets here.

Another amazingly good sign.

he Middle East earthquake of the past five weeks has been the most tumultuous, shattering, mind-numbing experience in the history of the region since the fall of the Ottoman empire. For once, “shock and awe” was the right description.

The docile, supine, unregenerative, cringing Arabs of Orientalism have transformed themselves into fighters for the freedom, liberty and dignity which we Westerners have always assumed it was our unique role to play in the world. One after another, our satraps are falling, and the people we paid them to control are making their own history – our right to meddle in their affairs (which we will, of course, continue to exercise) has been diminished for ever.

The tectonic plates continue to shift, with tragic, brave – even blackly humorous – results. Countless are the Arab potentates who always claimed they wanted democracy in the Middle East. King Bashar of Syria is to improve public servants’ pay. King Bouteflika of Algeria has suddenly abandoned the country’s state of emergency. King Hamad of Bahrain has opened the doors of his prisons. King Bashir of Sudan will not stand for president again. King Abdullah of Jordan is studying the idea of a constitutional monarchy. And al-Qa’ida are, well, rather silent.

Who would have believed that the old man in the cave would suddenly have to step outside, dazzled, blinded by the sunlight of freedom rather than the Manichean darkness to which his eyes had become accustomed. Martyrs there were aplenty across the Muslim world – but not an Islamist banner to be seen. The young men and women bringing an end to their torment of dictators were mostly Muslims, but the human spirit was greater than the desire for death. They are Believers, yes – but they got there first, toppling Mubarak while Bin Laden’s henchmen still called for his overthrow on outdated videotapes.

Robert Fisk is the armed human heart. His The Great War for Civilization is the Classic book. And here he is at the center, geographically and emotionally. Read the whole..

Libya: UK officials tell Gaddafi loyalists to defect or face war crimes trial

This is very important. It sets a standard for protest in the future world wide. Don’t forget.

Capitalism may be close to exhausting its potential to create a better life – at least in the world’s rich countries.

By “better,” I mean better ethically, not materially. Material gains may continue, though evidence shows that they no longer make people happier. My discontent is with the quality of a civilization in which the production and consumption of unnecessary goods has become most people’s main occupation.

This is where GardenWorld Politics comes in, in quality of life.

The evidence on this point is not as definitive as one might like, but what we have – for example, from the work of Princeton University’s Larry Bartels – suggests that over the past 50 years, virtually the entire US political elite has stopped sharing the preferences of low- or middle-income voters. The views of office holders have moved much closer to those commonly found atop the income distribution.

There are various theories regarding why this shift occurred. In our book 13 Bankers, James Kwak and I emphasized a combination of the rising role of campaign contributions, the revolving door between Wall Street and Washington, and, most of all, an ideological shift towards the view that finance is good, more finance is better, and unfettered finance is best. There is a clear corollary: the voices and interests of relatively poor people count for little in American politics.

These moves in history tell us about how we might move, or not move, in response to climate. The evidence seems to be that the politicians will game the system, what ever it is, in favor of money. Can sustainability and profit cohabit?

LONDON – Is there more to be said about Egypt? Hosni Mubarak has been sacrificed to save the military regime. A “strongman” who cannot keep order in the streets is of no use to anyone. Whether “democracy” will ensue is much more dubious. Judging on the basis of Pakistan, and much of the rest of the Muslim world, periods of (corrupt) civilian rule will alternate with “cleansing” military coups.

Not that I agree, but then, I do’t disagree. It is important to keep thinking through how difficult all this is, and what it says about climate and ecological issues.

political will

February 18, 2011

The biggest challenge to achieving the goal, say researchers, isn’t related to the underlying technologies or the economics required to fuel the change, rather, it’s whether we earthlings have the collective will and political gumption to make it happen.

This is a common feeling about climate response. The problem is, it makes it feel like struggling to defecate. The problem is not will, but structural: political, economic, educational, transportation, energy, and the problem there is, no job strategy. No job strategy feels like a different challenge than lack of will power