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Belmont Club

A Tale of Two Cities

July 12th, 2013 - 1:59 am

Events in two cities — Cairo and Homs — symbolize the crisis gripping the Middle East. An ad showing starving carriage horses in Egypt underscored the depth of hunger in Egypt. Even if by some miracle Egypt could attract tourists, the hospitality industry workers which once supported it — including the carriage horses — would by then be gone, dead or dispersed. This is what is literally meant by “eating the seed corn”.

To the glue factory

To the glue factory

But if the animals have it bad, the people aren’t doing much better. The poor in Egypt can’t afford to buy food. And that is with the loaves costing the equivalent of one US cent. There’s precious little to buy either. Reuters says that Egypt, once the granary of the region, has two months of food stocks left.

Egypt has less than two months’ supply of imported wheat left in its stocks, ousted President Mohamed Mursi’s minister of supplies said, revealing a shortage more acute than previously disclosed.

Speaking to Reuters near midnight in a tent at a vigil where thousands of Mursi supporters are protesting against the Islamist president’s removal, former Minister of Supplies Bassem Ouda said the state had just 500,000 tonnes of imported wheat left. Egypt usually imports about 10 million tonnes a year.

Two and a half years of political turmoil have caused a deep economic crisis in Egypt, scaring away investors and tourists, draining foreign currency reserves and making it difficult to maintain imports of food and fuel.

Egypt is the world’s largest importer of wheat, half of which it distributes to its 84 million people in the form of heavily subsidized saucer-sized flat loaves of bread, which sell for less than 1 U.S. cent.

World War ME

Cairo

The troubles sweeping the region are creating scenes of human misery normally associated with wars of the 20th century or movies featuring zombies, apocalypses and Brad Pitt. After months of success, the Syrian rebels are now losing ground to the counterattacking Assad. One of the most devastated battlegrounds is the city of Homs.

Syrian rebels have asked for a truce in the besieged city of Homs to observe the holy month of Ramadan, which begins on Tuesday.

The new head of the opposition Syrian National Coalition, Ahmad Jarba, revealed the offer as he gave his first interview since his election on Saturday. There has been no indication that President Bashar al-Assad’s government would be ready to accept a cease-fire.

Sunni Muslim rebels in the city 90 miles (140 km) north of Damascus have been suffering an onslaught of ground and air attacks. They have been struggling to hold onto territory since the militant group Hezbollah joined forces with Assad’s troops.

The rebels claim they’ve been “sold out”. There are no clear indications how Washington wants to handle the mounting crisis. In a week when the US delivered F-16s to Egypt, Navy amphibious ships moved closer to the action, steaming into the northern Red Sea, to await the word, whatever the word turns out to be.

“Egypt is (in) a crisis right now,” Marine Corps Commandant General James Amos told the Center for Strategic and International Studies think tank. “When that happens, what we owe the senior leadership of our nation are some options,” Amos said. He did not say what the options were….

U.S. Marine Corps officials said moving amphibious ships closer to shore would enable easier movement of helicopters and other equipment, if it were needed.

“Why? Because we don’t know what’s going to happen,” he said.

The Washington Post, which probably wants to support President Obama, confesses itself to be totally baffled by the President’s foreign policy. In an editorial board article dated July 12 it said:

It has been a month since the White House informed journalists that President Obama had decided to supply Syrian rebels with light arms. Since then, the regime has launched a bloody new offensive in the city of Homs, using heavy artillery and rockets to attack residential areas held by the rebels. Thousands of people have been killed, adding to a death toll approaching 100,000. President Bashar al-Assad has been boasting of his military successes and of the failure of outside powers to bring down his regime. Meanwhile, the United States has failed to deliver any of the promised munitions to beleaguered rebel forces — “not even a single bullet,” one source told The Post’s David Ignatius….

The delay can be attributed in part to congressional resistance: According to reporting by The Post’s Karen DeYoung, the administration’s plan has drawn objections from members of the House and Senate intelligence committees, which are responsible for reviewing covert operations. But the larger problem is an extraordinary failure of leadership by Mr. Obama. While deciding on intervention in a fateful Middle East war, the president has chosen a minimalist option likely to fail while declining to publicly explain or justify his actions.

Translation: not even the Washington Post knows what is going on. “A decision to intervene in a foreign war, even in a small way, ought to be the subject of a direct presidential address to the country and an open debate in Congress. Yet the news that the United States would, after more than two years of dithering, finally provide direct military aid to rebels came in a conference call with reporters by White House aide Ben Rhodes on June 13. While letting the world know about it, Mr. Obama chose to designate his action as covert, stifling public discussion and restricting details on the arms supplies to members of the congressional intelligence committees.”

It’s called “leading from behind”. The Post concludes that Obama has managed to zero out American influence in the region, which is to say make enemies of pretty near everyone, ruin pretty much everything and confuse the hell out of anyone, including the Washington Post.

Mr. Obama’s fecklessness on Syria has baffled and alarmed important U.S. allies, including Turkey and Israel, which wonder if the United States can still be counted on as a force in the region. It has emboldened not just Mr. Assad but also Iran, which has been stepping up its own intervention in Syria in the belief that it will not be countered. Now the president is failing to deliver even on the modest action he decided on. It’s a spectacle that can only harm U.S. standing in the Middle East — and prolong Syria’s bloodshed.

The Obama administration surveys a landscape littered with the ruins of two Egyptian governments, chaos in Libya, war in the Sub-Sahara, slaughter in Syria, near civil war in Lebanon, a million refugees in Jordan, unrest in Turkey and a Taliban that doesn’t even want to negotiate with him in Afghanistan. And oh yes, renewed tensions with Russia and an unstoppable nuclear program in Iran.

Quite a record. And it’s only just begun.

The word the Washington Post is searching for, when it describes the inability of the President to sell his plans to Congress and the American people, is “strategy”. He has nothing to sell. The President has no overarching goal. No coherent idea of where wants to go or how to get there. What he has in place of it is a series of slogans, a list of talking points, a grab-bag of nostrums, a collection of disconnected ideas and a number of vague intentions. And they all change from day to day, depending on who he’s talking to.

This vacuity was initially identified as “sophistication” by his supporters. The absence of a definite idea was taken as proof of genius, as a lack of dogmatism, when in fact it was only an indication of a cipher. The President warned his supporters he was blank — a screen onto which anyone could project anything. It is now becoming clear that he meant just that. The President’s supporters got exactly what they wanted. And so did everyone else.


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Top Rated Comments   
A tale of two quotes.
"... what we owe the senior leadership of our nation ..."
"... an extraordinary failure of leadership by Mr. Obama"

What do the Marines owe Barack Obama? They owe him nothing. More than that it is inadvisable to say. They owe the Constitution their lives their fortune their sacred honor, that is everything.

Extraordinary? The Wapo missed an opportunity to insert the word "unexpectedly."

There are priceless cultural artifacts that should be rescued. Not rescuing the people is hard. The model would be a public health quarantine. Think of Cairo as being London in a zombie movie. When was the last time a sizable human community imploded, direct combat excluded? Between 200 and 600 AD Rome shrank from over a million to about 50,000. Can we save the horses?
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
It's all well and good to talk about leaving people to their fates. But when you come right down to it, the abandonment of the Pax Americana will cause untold misery not just to people but to animals. For some reason a crisis brings out lunacy in spades. The Copts are going to get it in the neck. The Jews too, but the Jews can shoot back.

Why? Who knows. Barbara Tuchman once wrote a book called the "March of Folly". I think someone should write a sequel titled the "Parade of the Imbecility". And by and by these desperate people are going to spill over into other countries and wreck them too.

Who's going to stop them? Italy? France? Turkey?

I think that when people yelled "Down With America" at some level they really didn't mean that. They meant "down with America, but please keep us from being invaded. Please keep the lights on. Please save us from ourselves." By some miraculous process, America did this for more than six decades.

Then they elected Obama. Maybe he's survivable. But what comes after him? Or maybe nothing really comes after him.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
In the process of reducing the US to a third world communist dictatorship Obama is also destroying world peace. Maybe that's a feature for him. Meanwhile his polling is going negative. I find it interesting that he is losing women and youth. All of his different "signals" seem to be hetrodyning and producing a new frequency which seem to be the natural resonance frequency of the national body. When the amplitude of the natural resonance frequency of the human body is reached, the sphincters relax and the bowel empty. Telsa's idea of a joke would be to have people stand on a platform that would start vibrating at that frequency. He did it to Mark Twain who was not amused.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (55)
All Comments   (55)
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I really don't know any Illuminati. Really. Not very well, at all. Nope.

And the stones are inscribed in only EIGHT languages, not ten.

I grovel with embarrassment at my rushed lousy scholarship.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Perhaps the strategy coming into clearer focus in Egypt is that of the supposedly-fictitious "illuminati" - that shadowy secret society of super-intelligent humans who have for generations distilled power, wealth, and knowledge and concentrated it into the hands of a tiny group, which is finally understood to be the ONLY group capable of effectively solving humanity's dilemma.

"Effective" in this instance meaning long-lasting, not necessarily pleasant.

In the mountains of rural Elbert County, Georgia (USA, not the former CCCP) there is supposed to be a sort of modern stonehenge monument constructed and inscribed with a simple set of guidelines, attributed by some to the so-called Illuminati. The inscriptions are in ten languages, including four tongues of great antiquity - Babylonian, Classical Greek, Sanskrit, and Pharaonic hieroglyphs:

Maintain humanity under 500,000,000
in perpetual balance with nature.
Guide reproduction wisely
improving fitness and diversity.
Unite humanity with a living
new language.
Rule passion faith tradition
and all things
with tempered reason.
Protect people and nations
with fair laws and just courts.
Let all nations rule internally
resolving external disputes
in a world court.
Avoid petty laws and useless
officials.
Balance personal rights with
social duties.
Prize truth - beauty - love
seeking harmony with the
infinite.
Be not a cancer on the earth -
Leave room for nature
Leave room for nature.

Here's a link to the Wikipedia photograph of the English Language version on a huge stone:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Georgia_Guidestones_-_tavola_inglese_-_english_table.jpg

It's a little early to tell for sure, but you could reasonably interpret the actions of the person who was presented as "the most intelligent man ever to enter the Oval Office" as being purposeful and deliberate, calculated, and carefully weighed. NOT the inchoate thrashings of an incompetent boob who needs help changing his soiled diapers when mean and rude people behave in ways that disrespect him, upsot his little toy set, and eat his pet rabbit.

That would mean that the present ruler in the offal office is perfectly aware that Egypt has become utterly dependent on food produced outside its borders since some time after the construction of the High Aswan Dam with the aid of its Soviet benefactors. Perfectly aware that millions of Egyptians are ALREADY beginning to starve, their bodies metabolizing their own flesh to provide the internal fuel needed for life. While US Navy ships which in any case could not possibly carry enough food to prevent mass starvation, stand offshore, constrained by the smartest man in the solar system from acting at all.

Friend and foe alike may starve and keel over dead behind their barricades, with artillery shells, 50-caliber belts, and rpg rounds sent NOT hurtling toward the foe.

When you think of it, letting the combatants and belligerents starve is possibly the most efficient method of clearing the theater of bothersome and tedious actors, simultaneously minimizing battle damage. Our leader must be the genius everyone has been proclaiming... Why didn't I see it before?

Another words, {}bama may very well be basing his international diplomatic efforts on a strategy of feeding into the chaos as it arises, promoting chaos where possible, and withholding aid that might mitigate the chaos and destruction. This may sound perverse and cruel, but it sure would facilitate the early achievement of a diminution of the world population to a level of 500 million, which is very often cited as the ideal desired by the ILLUMINATI for indefinite sustainability.

"Not today, not ten years from today, but soon..." Seems to be the sense of ineluctable triumph of the trans-national progressivist agenda.

I have so much to learn!
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Is there a link to the charity helping the horses? Those innocent beasts move me more than the humans do -- voting as they did 80% Arab Nutter.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
We are in the hands of a Marxist, Moslem, pothead of questionable erotic allegiance and less of an academic track record than Teddy "I Cheated at Harvard" Kennedy.

What could possibly go wrong?

Yet the Leftwing Prison Planet Media will never desert this idiot; never.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Unfortunately, both countries have the same thing in common.When the dust settles and "if" they have elections there will still be a dictator and still be sharia law as an overall outcome. Chances are good both countries will still be ruled by terror types. Is there a US interest? Only that we don't let them anywhere near our shores.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Roughcoat:

It's a classic “damned if you do, damned if you don't” scenario. If the United States intervenes, it's those “stupid Americans” who do the Saudis' bidding. If the United States does not intervene, it's those “evil Americans” who let the Syrians die. Part of the problem is that many American politicians and diplomats have forgotten that American power is about safeguarding America's security.

Since the early twentieth century, American diplomacy has been based upon the old notion that if we want X, we must do what is necessary to get X. The problem with this strategy is that it puts all of the power into the hands of other people, who will cynically play the United States off against some other power to get the best deal they can. In contrast, a wiser approach would be to consider what WE have that other people want, and then lay down clear expectations for our partners on how we should be treated.

It is paramount for American diplomacy that any foreign power that asks for American help or intervention comes to the United States with a history of friendship and respect. All too often in the past thirty years, the United States has let itself get pushed into intervening in conflicts on behalf of foreign parties who did not respect the United States for the help we provided. The problem with “humanitarian intervention” is that it has nothing to do with the victim's standing with the United States. We – we Americans – need to be watchful over how we are treated, including how we are treated by those who call us friends.

The following scene is from the Godfather. Although it describes a fictional gangster, it illustrates the importance of passive diplomacy. The principal difference between gangland politics and international diplomacy is that international diplomacy is frequently more treacherous. An active “I want what I want when I want it” strategy is unwise. All too often, it is a passive strategy that commands respect.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XPTAjNVvrYg
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
gas stations
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Islam by its very nature MUST 'eat its seed corn', as Islam is parasitic. Its tenets allow for no other possibility. To avoid that reality, it conquers and expands, sucking its sustenance from the body of other societies.

Egypt, lacking the resources needed to sustain its population is a perfect, real world example of a Malthusian catastrophe; a forced return to subsistence-level conditions once population growth had outpaced agricultural production.

Obama's apparent incompetence is a combination of disinterest in the foreign sphere and ideological opposition to an America capable of imposing a Pax Americana.

That the Obama administration surveys a Middle Eastern landscape littered with ruins, chaos, war, slaughter, near civil war, refugees, unrest, a Taliban unwilling to negotiate and an unspoken strategy to 'contain' a nuclear Iran is not a bug but a feature. In regard to the M.E. Obama's actions have been entirely consistent, indicating conscious intention rather than confusion. Confusion is, by definition contradictory by nature but Obama's actions have yet to be contradictory.

Renewed tensions with Russia and China are a particular frustration for the Obama administration given its desire to collude with those sphere's of influence. Obama is particularly frustrated with Putin's and China's totalitarian leadership's nationalism, which has led to their failure to appreciate that he is on their side.

It has indeed, just begun and there is nothing 'accidental' about it.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Oh, so the United States is helping to "prolong Syria’s bloodshed"?

Nonsense.

The people who are prolonging bloodshed in Syria are the people who are shedding blood in Syria. Period. Full stop.

That littered landscaped was created by the people who are littering it. Not by
the Obama adminstration, not by America, not by Americans.

To suggest otherwise to akin to the reasoning that held that the 9-11 attacks were in large measure America's fault because we provoked by our actions (or lack of action).

This is closely related to R2P logic.

I'm not talking about leaving people to their fates, and it's kind of a low blow to imply that's what's going on here.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I've heard this reasoning applied before in a sociological context.

It's bruited most often, and promiscuously, in discussions concerning the problems besetting America's inner cities.

Every weekend in Chicago a couple of dozen (sometimes more) inner city residents are wounded in gun violence; a few are killed. Every weekend.

The "interventionists" wring their hands and ask "what can we do to stop the violence? What can we do to reduce the poverty that contributes to the violence."

It seems to me that this is essentially the same sort of logic driving discussions about the need to for a Pax Americana to be enforced, with American blood and treasure, on people who are able, willing, and determined to kill each other.

What is being advocated here is a sociological-based foreign policy. The Pax Americana is a sociological undertaking.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Right; it's the same ol' deal of making someone acting wrong the victim of someone else's actions. You are responsible for what you do ... period. As the man said, the ones responsible for spilling blood are those spilling blood. For once I can't blame Obama.

Let's you and him fight! Jihad against the jihadis!!
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
A question for the lead from behind smart power folks may be: How many Egyptians can one F-16 feed?
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Let's see: at $25 million or so a copy, if they sold one, it would feed every Egyptian an order of fava beans and flat bread for two days. I think they could afford to feed all their horses for a week as well.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
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