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      Back in 1968 the book “Limits to Growth” stormed the world. Computer models predicted that humans would run out of almost every resource, overshoot carying capacity, then crash. It was well known and widely discussed and combined with the oil crashes, made the 70s a ferment of practical and theoretical work on alternative energy, different ways of farming an […]
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The Rescue of Captain Phillips

Warship USS Bainbridge

Warship USS Bainbridge

Thank goodness for the Navy snipers who were able to take out three of the four Somali pirates holding Captain Richard Phillips hostage. Credit also goes to the crew of Phillips’ ship, the Maersk Alabama, who fought back when the pirates tried to take control of their vessel.

At No Quarter, Larry Johnson, who obviously knows infinitely more than I do about the inner workings of the government, praises Obama for his willingness to step aside and allow the experts to handle the crisis and following the advice of those who know what they are doing.

This AP story says that President Obama twice approved the use of force to rescue Phillips.

The Defense Department twice asked Obama for permission to use military force to rescue Capt. Richard Phillips from a lifeboat off the Somali coast. Obama first gave permission around 8 p.m. Friday, and upgraded it at 9:20 a.m. Saturday. Officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations said the second order was to encompass more military personnel and equipment that arrived in the Indian Ocean to engage the pirates.

It is clear from the story that Obama didn’t give permission for force to be used until Friday night. Yet the warship pictured above, the USS Bainbridge was in position by Thursday, according this story at Huffpo.

Now I admit that it is difficult for me to give Obama credit for anything. Quite frankly I dislike the man intensely and much as I want him to rise to the occasion and become another FDR, I don’t have much faith that it will happen.

I don’t necessarily think it took that much courage to issue these orders, but I do admit that Obama would have been roundly criticized if something had gone wrong. On the other hand, Friday afternoon, he was already being attacked by right wing talk show and even liberals like me for not using force. So there might have been even more poltical risk if he had decided not to use force.

I just have a couple of questions.

1. Why did Obama wait five days before issuing the order to use force? Why wasn’t there a standing order all along so that the Navy and FBI personnel at the scene could use their best judgment?

2. Why did Obama wait until this afternoon to call Phillips’ family? Couldn’t he have called them sooner just to say that he was doing everything in his power to rescue their relative?

From my observations, Obama’s decisions are always about politics and about what is best for him.
I suspect that Obama had originally given a “no shoot” order in order to avoid the risk of a huge political embarrassment if Phillips were killed or injured in a rescue attempt.

On Friday, Phillips himself tried to escape from his captors and was recaptured by the pirates without any effort by Navy snipers to back up his attempt. After that the political calculus changed. It had been three days, and nothing was happening other than FBI negotiations. After the failed escape attempt, there was more criticism in the media and on-line. At this point, I think Obama faced a greater risk of political damage if he didn’t give permission for the Navy to use force than if he did.

Call me a complete and utter cynic–I don’t mind. But that is how I think it went down. I still give Obama credit for listening to his advisors and allowing the rescue to take place. However, I don’t see the justification for the crowing that is going on at the Cheeto blogs right now. See here and here (WARNING! Don’t click those links unless you want to be transported to Cheetoland).

Next question: how can we make it more politically risky for Obama to keep funneling all our money to the banksters than for him to do the right thing?

World in Chaos Open Thread

Brain fog

Brain fog

My brain isn’t working too well this morning, thanks to a nasty head cold. Still I got up as usual and surfed around to see what’s going on in the world. Is it just me, or are things even more chaotic out there than usual? Let’s see…

Robert M. Morgenthau, district attorney of Manhattan has indicted Li Fang Wei, a Chinese businessman, for selling nuclear raw materials to Iran and using U.S. banks such as Bank of America, Citibank and J.P. Morgan Chase to launder the financial transactions. Supposedly the banks were unwitting accessories. Hmmm… why don’t I buy that excuse?

Chinese and Russian “cyberspies” have infiltrated the U.S. electric grid.

Authorities investigating the intrusions have found software tools left behind that could be used to destroy infrastructure components, the senior intelligence official said. He added, “If we go to war with them, they will try to turn them on.”

Officials said water, sewage and other infrastructure systems also were at risk.

Now isn’t that special?

Pirates have captured a U.S. flagged ship and taken 20 American crewmembers hostage off the coast of Somalia.

The container ship, the Maersk Alabama, was carrying thousands of tons of relief aid to the Kenyan port of Mombasa, the company that owns the ship said.

The ship was taken by pirates at about 7:30 a.m. local time, 280 miles southeast of the Somali city of Eyl, a known haven for pirates, a spokesman for the United States Navy said. It is owned and operated by Maersk Line Limited, a United States subsidiary of A.P. Moller – Maersk Group, the Danish shipping giant.

The Maersk Alabama was at least the sixth commercial ship commandeered by pirates this week off the Horn of Africa, one of the most notoriously lawless zones on the high seas, where pirates have been operating with near impunity despite efforts by many nations, including the United States, to intimidate them with naval warship patrols.

The death toll continues to rise after the earthquake in Italy.

At least seven strong shocks hit the region during the night, killing one person and waking people from their sleep in the tent shelters.

The tremors brought down masonry from already damaged buildings and one tremor was felt as far away as Rome.

President Obama has finally returned to Washington, D.C. after his triumphant global tour. Will that help or hurt our economic situation? Will he finally wake up and realize that Geithner and Summers are wrecking our economic system in order to save their rich friends? Or does he already know that and think it’s a good idea? Will Obama’s wooing of Muslims in Turkey make a difference or is it “just words?”

A “turning point,” a “fresh breeze” — even a “light in the darkness.” Arabs and Muslims have been charmed by President Barack Obama’s first venture into the Islamic world.

Obama’s visit to Turkey this week was full of gestures calculated at showing he is a friend to Muslims, like his headliner sound bite that the U.S will never be “at war with Islam” and his mention of the Muslims in his family. Even throwaway lines like a comment that he had to wrap up a town-hall meeting with Turkish students “before the call to prayer” showed he was no stranger to Muslims’ way of life.

To many, the town-hall format for a meeting with students in Istanbul on Tuesday sent a significant message. The sight of a U.S. president being questioned by Muslims was dramatically different from the perception many had of Obama’s predecessor, George W. Bush.

What do you think? And what are you reading/hearing/watching this morning?