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Generational Dynamics Web Log for 5-Jul-2010
5-Jul-10 News -- Kyrgyzstan is supposedly 'back to normal'

Web Log - July, 2010

5-Jul-10 News -- Kyrgyzstan is supposedly 'back to normal'

Michael Steele versus the Democratic National Committee

Kyrgyzstan is supposedly 'back to normal' after referendum

Kyrgyzstan <font size=-2>(Source: CIA Fact Book)</font>
Kyrgyzstan (Source: CIA Fact Book)

Roza Otunbayeva was inaugurated as president of Kyrgyzstan on Saturday, becoming the first female head of state in central Asia, according to CNN. The inauguration was made possible after last Sunday's successful national referendum approving the new constitution.

Otunbayeva gained power through a coup in April, overthrowing the former president, Kurmanbek Bakiyev, who is now in self-imposed exile in Belarus.

The coup triggered horrendous ethnic violence between Uzbeks and Kyrgyz in the Fergana Valley region that we reported on for several weeks, resulting in thousands of deaths and hundreds of thousands of refugees. The overwhelming majority of victims were from the Uzbek minority.

However, Kyrgyzstan is now completely "back to normal," according to Russian commentary appearing in Voice of Russia. The referendum passed, despite bloody clashes designed to disrupt it, according to the commentary. And the government of Roza Otunbaeva is set to reinstate law and order.

The problem is that Kyrgyzstan is fundamentally changed. There has been no generally accepted explanation for what started the violence, and each side is putting forth conspiracy theories. Nationalism is rising, according to RFERL. Hundreds of thousands of Uzbek refugees are returning to their homes, only to find that they've been destroyed by the Kyrgyz.

An analysis in Economy Watch points out that there's evidence that Kyrgyz police and military personnel were among those that attacked the Uzbeks.

This can only lead to further ethnic violence, according to Russian president Dmitri A. Medvedev, who says that the country is facing "degradation and, unfortunately and very likely, disintegration." He added that "Then we will be forced to tackle the same problems that are being tackled in other regions, for instance in Afghanistan."

So Kyrgyzstan may be "back to normal" for a while, but the explosive desire for revenge may engulf not only Kyrgyzstan but all of central Asia.

Kanat Saudabayev, the foreign minister of Kazakhstan, writes in the NY Times, asking a question:

"Some people may ask: Why does the situation in Kyrgyzstan matter? For many of them it is probably, as Neville Chamberlain said famously of Czechoslovakia, a quarrel in a faraway country between people of whom we know nothing. In fact, Kyrgyzstan is one of the main conduits for opium and heroin smuggling from Afghanistan to Russia and Europe.

If lawlessness and loss of authority are allowed to take root in Kyrgyzstan there is a danger that the country may be subject to infiltration by extremist groups, including terrorists.

The consequences of a complete breakdown of Kyrgyzstan could be very serious for Central Asia and the region beyond. The prospect of further violence, refugee flows to neighboring countries and a complete loss of control throughout the nation should be sufficient to galvanize world leaders to address the problems."

Actually, though, one thing that's become clear in the last few weeks is that world leaders -- at least in the U.S., Russia, the EU and China -- have no desire to get involved in yet one more civil war.

Michael Steele versus the DNC

This has to be one of the most pathethic exhibitions of blithering ignorance around, even by the pathetically low Washington standards.

First, here's what Republican National Committee chairman Michael Steele said last week, according to the Washington Post:

"Keep in mind again, federal candidates, this was a war of Obama's choosing. This is not something the United States had actively prosecuted or wanted to engage in. ...

It was the president who was trying to be cute by half by flipping a script demonizing Iraq, while saying the battle really should be in Afghanistan. Well, if he's such a student of history, has he not understood that you know that's the one thing you don't do, is engage in a land war in Afghanistan? All right, because everyone who has tried, over a thousand years of history, has failed. And there are reasons for that. There are other ways to engage in Afghanistan."

This is a guy who apparently doesn't even remember 9/11. Republicans have been contemptuous of this remark, and Steele has apparently described it as some sort of slip of the tongue.

I actually don't believe the excuse. I think that he really believes that President Obama began the Afghanistan war. However, this would make him no more ignorant than the average politician in Washington.

Long-time readers of this web site will remember that I've been very critical of journalists, analysts and politicians because of their sheer stupidity and ignorance. This was shown by articles in the 2007 Congressional Quarterly. Washington journalists, analysts and politicians had no idea what's going on in Iraq, even though they constantly pretended to be "experts." They didn't know the differences between Sunni and Shia, they didn't know that al-Qaeda is a Sunni organization, and they didn't know that al-Qaeda was operating in Iraq.

These were all elementary facts to anyone who sets Iraq policy, and yet the Congressional Quarterly article showed that even long-time "experts" on Iraq didn't know these basic facts.

So Michael Steele thinks that Obama started the Afghanistan war? Surprise, surprise! He's just a typical Washington politician.

But the story doesn't stop there. The Democratic National Committee issued this statement, according to the Washington Post:

"Here goes Michael Steele setting policy for the GOP again. The likes of John McCain and Lindsey Graham will be interested to hear that the Republican Party position is that we should walk away from the fight against Al Qaeda and the Taliban without finishing the job. They'd also be interested to hear that the Chairman of the Republican Party thinks we have no business in Afghanistan notwithstanding the fact that we are there because we were attacked by terrorists on 9-11.

"And, the American people will be interested to hear that the leader of the Republican Party thinks recent events related to the war are 'comical' and that he is betting against our troops and rooting for failure in Afghanistan. It's simply unconscionable that Michael Steele would undermine the morale of our troops when what they need is our support and encouragement. Michael Steele would do well to remember that we are not in Afghanistan by our own choosing, that we were attacked and that his words have consequences."

This retort is even dumber than Steele's remark. The DNC people are forgetting that they fought bitterly to cut off funding for the Iraq war in 2007, and particularly were opposed to the "surge," claiming that it would embroil America in a massive civil war.

I wrote at the time that loony left organizations, including the NY Times and NBC News, were doing everything in their power to see that America was defeated and humiliated in Iraq. I said that they were, in effect, siding with the terrorists against America, and that their actions were close to treason.

So imagine my surprise at seeing the DNC accuse Steele of exactly the same thing, conveniently forgetting their own actions in 2007.

The ignorance and stupidity of journalists and politicians at that time were almost beyond belief. I wrote about what was really going on in Iraq in my April, 2007, article, "Iraqi Sunnis are turning against al-Qaeda in Iraq," which I still believe was the best analytical article about the war in Iraq written anywhere at that time.

There's an interesting political shift going on today. Increasingly, it's the Republicans that are supporting President Obama's plan for the Afghanistan war, and it's the Democrats who oppose it, and are demanding withdrawal.

During the 2008 election campaign, Obama frequently said that it was important for the U.S. to win in Afghanistan, and in 2009, Obama escalated the war by greatly increasing the troop strength. I'm still waiting for the loony left to start calling Obama a "Hitler" and a "genocidal killer" and a "war criminal," as they used to call Bush (and still do).

Stars and Stripes Forever

On Sunday, the Boston Pops Orchestra, conducted by Keith Lockhart, gave its 125'th performance of the Independence Day celebration on Boston's esplanade.

In case you missed it, here's a video of John Williams, a former Boston Pops conductor, and a performance of Stars and Stripes Forever in Tokyo in June, 1990 -- probably just before the orchestra headed back home for the 1990 Independence Day celebration in Boston:

What's really mind-blowing about this performance is how John Williams conducts not only the orchestra, but also the entire audience.

Additional links

Turkey is threatening Israel with further harsh sanctions, unless Israel either apologizes for the deaths of Turkish citizens on the "freedom flotilla" confrontation, or else accepts the findings of an international inquiry into the incident. Israel is unlikely to do either. Hurriyet

Queen Elizabeth will visit New York City on Tuesday. NY Times

The London Housewives' Association held a special ceremony on July 4, 1954, to celebrate the end of World War II food rationing in Britain. BBC

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao is warning that China's economy is facing difficulties. "The severity of the international financial crisis and the difficulties of economic recovery have surpassed people's expectations, so the dilemmas of macroeconomic control have increased. So we will not only take great efforts to solve some long-running structural problems but also we need to solve some existing and urgent problems." Reuters

Hillary Clinton, visiting Yerevan, Armenia, seeks to broker the long-running dispute with Azerbeijan over the territory of Nagorno-Karabakh. Associated Press

Mirroring moves already taken in Belgium and Spain, lawmakers in France begin debate this week on a bill aimed at banning the burqa, which President Nicolas Sarkozy has described as degrading to women. AFP

Sears, Kmart and Toys 'r' Us are dusting off a Great Depression era tactic, by re-launching the "layaway plan" for the Christmas holidays. A customer can pay a weekly amount to the retailer, and then use it to purchase gifts when the holidays arrive. The retailer will even add a bonus to the saved amount. CNBC

The iPhone applications "Fast Facts, Challenges & Tactics" will help Christians reason argue with non-believers, while the "Atheist Pocket Debater" will provide verbal ammunition for the other side. Or, there's "One-Minute Answers to Skeptics," and "Answers for Catholics." NY Times

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 5-Jul-10 News -- Kyrgyzstan is supposedly 'back to normal' thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (5-Jul-2010) Permanent Link
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