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When he isn't being grumpy, the GOS is into boating, and has been following with some fascination a conversation on an American boating forum. These guys don't just compare notes about their fishing expeditions, they also get into some fairly heavy grumpiness about the state of the world.
What is interesting is to see that they are taking their government's views with rather more than a pinch of salt and a refreshing note of cynicism. Makes you wonder how representative they are of general American opinion ...
The GOS thought his readers would find it interesting, so he's selected a few bits for you - and yes, he did ask first!

• I wish I knew of an instance when an outside country had prevailed over a home-grown insurgency. Not America 225 years ago, not Algeria, not Viet Nam .... what makes us think we can rule folks willing to kill themselves for a religious cause?
- Bruce
The GOS says: or ... er ... to get rid of the Americans?
• The 30:1 ratio at which Iraqis die versus non-Iraqi, noting that these are all Iraqi volunteers that are dying, says a lot. It means that the Iraqis do now, and have always, appreciated what's going on and that they believe in the goals and are willing to fight and die for it. Show me one newscaster who will tell that story ... and show me one who is not so racist that he/she can't understand why it is so wrong to ignore the Iraqi deaths and only talk about American deaths. Do these people have no worth? Is what they believe worthless?
Miles of paperwork showing payments to terrorists, quite often through 'front' individuals, quite often signed by Saddam's own son Uday (however you spell it) says something about Saddam's involvement with terrorists. Half of those recipients of Iraqi government money were Al Qaeda. Allowing terrorists to own and operate several training cells in his country, knowingly and documented by the government of Saddam, says something about Saddam's involvement with terrorist. After 9-11 when President Bush said that we were going to hunt them out, each and every one, and that any nation that harbored terrorists was our enemy, and that if you weren't with us then you were against us ... the American people shouted a huge "HOORAY!" and all hands voted in favor. Saddam fits that definition perfectly. He probably didn't order 9-11 ... nobody is saying that, but to say that he didn't aid Al Qaeda and many other terrorists is a bald-faced lie that can be proven absolutely wrong. The only thing that has changed since the Americans were all in favor has been an endless barrage of filtered media designed to bash Bush in every way possible and to hide the rest of the facts.
- Brian D
• We only have limited resources too. We can't afford the time or money or lives it would take to fight all the world's battles. We go where we need to for more reasons than "what is right". We spend where we get more bang for our buck. Open markets or stability of regions that impact our economy. Not one war has ever been fought without roots in economic concerns ... not any US wars anyway. I can't offhand think of any non-US wars that didn't have economic reasons hiding in them somewhere either. Not since economies got big enough to be worth fighting for.
- Brian D
The GOS says: Limited resources? Be fair - you've got 25% of the world's resources ... I'm not sure that anyone fighting in World War 2 thought they were doing it for economic reasons, did they?
• Iraq posed a limited terrorist threat to us. The terrorists came from Afghanistan/Saudi Arabia, not Iraq! We're showboating in Iraq and creating new terrorists. No oil, no war! We thought we could pay for the war with Iraqi oil all while keeping our military production lines humming here in the USA! In the end, Bushie is going to pull the plug before '06, leaving Iraqis who believed him holding the bag, a repeat of the Bush 41 performance. The result: 3000 Americans dead, a radically unbalanced domestic budget, loss of overseas cred and Hillary in the White House.
- Bruce
• Being in Iraq does provide an imposing sphere of influence right in the middle of the Middle East. Saudi Arabia and Syria know exactly what that means. They've both been back-pedaling. Iran isn't though ... but they wanted Iraq to be a new Shiite province of Iran. Poor losers, who buy submarines from Russia, develop air-burst ballistic missiles capable of carrying nukes for creating an EMP burst, and not-so-secretly fast-forward the development of nuclear arms. At least they don't seem to mean it ... ha ha. Better go get your lead nut-cup right now while you still can. We're in a cold war with Iran, like it or not, deny it or not, that's the way it is. Iraq only made a little bit of difference. It is not the main cause.
I hope you are wrong on your predictions about a poorly managed pull-out, although it is a scary possibility. Fortunately, people on both sides of the fence (including Hillary and Billary) have been pretty open about stating that we are there now and can't just pull out without creating dire consequences on both sides of the water. The rest is coming from the media and mid-term politicians whose goal is to bash the current administration. They won't be in charge when the hammer comes down. Those that will, or might be, seem to understand the repercussions associated with pulling out too soon and seem to want to do things in a make-sense orderly fashion. Or so it seems. Shoot all the leaders .... start over.
It's been a long time since our government represented the people, if they ever really did. The only thing you can do about bum leadership is to shine a bright light on their screw-ups and make them look bad. Nothing else will work.
One thing for sure though, is that before you or I die this world will be a dramatically different place than it is now. We are fast-forwarding through a serious era of change. I don't think that we will come out exactly on top either. There are too many people cutting main arteries to pretend that we're not going to bleed to death ... economy, exporting trade and jobs, importing poverty, throwing away sovereignty without regard to the future, breaking the government bank, peak oil, yadda yadda yadda ... worst case of mis-management that I've ever seen. Maybe I'll move to Chile ... good beef, good fishing ...
Brian D
The GOS says: a cold war with Iran? Paranoia rules, I think. I don't really understand what business it is of America's, or Britain's come to that ...
• Strange you should mention Chile! I'm keen to go there myself. As for the pull-out, I did make one mistake: it'll be before 2008, not 2006. And I expect we'll still have troops hunkered down at the Baghdad airport supporting selective air strikes against the bad guys. I'm impressed with the Kurdish north. Too bad about the wackos in the south! If they'd stop fighting each other and simply maximise their oil income, they could all be driving Mercedes instead of just the cab drivers. Oh well, if I can't understand what the Irish are fighting about, what the Israel/Palestinian mess is all about, I'm sure I won't figure out what they're fighting about in Iraq. Except, like Bush, they all think God's involved ... somebody's God, anyway.
- Bruce
• If the world were ethically correct, then the Kurds would have their own country right there where they are.
One of the problems associated with Islam is that once they've lived on a piece of soil, then they consider it their holy right to live there forever. It doesn't matter if they took it by force or not. Land is one of those things that trades hands more often than not, but the Israelites owned it long before the local Islamic folks tried to take it from them. And for the record, there is NO race of people or historical culture called 'Palestinian'. They use the term as though it had validity, but made-up names do not buy you the right to own property by force.
- Brian D
• Can't figure out why, after having Gaza turned over to them, they persist in firing unguided rockets into Israel knowing the Jews have aircraft and guided munitions. What? Are they stupid?
- Bruce
• Bruce, if you want the answer to your question, and a much deeper understanding of what has gone wrong in Iraq read "With Every Mistake" by Gwynne Dyer published in 2005. I bought it in the airport in Ottawa last Sunday for plane reading. It's a compilation of Dyer's columns since 2001 dealing with world affairs. It's organized thematically with the author's views and comments inserted appropriately. Only available in hard cover, it's not cheap but sometimes quality costs - as you know.
- Brian T
• "God told us ... " or "three thousand years ago ......" - with half the population under 35, no marketable skills and the women locked up at home and out of whatever passes for an economy, I'm thinking I won't see peace in my lifetime. Or am I wrong?
- Bruce
• Bruce, many of the Palestinians take a long view that by the end of this century the power relations in the world will have changed and they will eventually win over Israel. A peace is therefore good in the short term but will be ultimately detrimental to their long term objectives. I have not finished the book yet but one of the points that Dyer makes is that the war in Iraq distracts from the more significant issues such as global warming and climate change. I also believe that we will not see peace in our lifetimes and I'm very concerned that the Iraq war is another quagmire for the US and the western world. But I'm no political scientist - Dyer is a specialist in political science and war and makes his living writing and lecturing about world affairs. You'd enjoy the book, I'm sure.
- Brian T
• Fundamentalist Muslims and fundamentalist Christians have much in common.
- Brian T
• Study the foundations upon which Christianity and Islam are based and you'll find out how very different they are. To compare two groups of people only on how 'fundamental and unbending' they are is a cheap shot that does not take into consideration the difference between right and wrong. And believe me, when people no longer have a moral or ethical ruler against which they can measure right or wrong, when they can no longer effectively differentiate, then they are on the way out ... on the way to social collapse. It wouldn't be the first time.
His comments (Dyer's) on global warming/climate change don't seem to take into consideration how the natural swings of nature far overwhelm anything that mankind can do. That doesn't mean that we shouldn't do what we can. But it does however admit that even if we did ALL that we can, that it wouldn't make much of a difference. Nature goes through much wilder swings than whatever man might be causing. The experts that proposed the Kyoto Accord agree with this statement and made it themselves. It's why the term 'global warming' has fallen out of vogue in favor of 'climate change'. Too much conflicting evidence. I still believe in being responsible, but not with blinkers on. Hey, you ever wonder why the climate change crowd refuses to predict next year's weather trends?
Life is not that complex, and it's on a spin cycle. Whatever you see happening now has happened before and for the same basic reasons. Look back and you can see forward more clearly.
- Brian D
The GOS says: From all of which we conclude that EITHER (a) George Bush hasn't exactly won the hearts and minds of all his subjects, AND/OR (b) some Americans talk sense some of the time, AND/OR (c) the GOS was right all along, AND/OR (d) all boat enthusiasts are dotty. Probably all four. Especially (c).

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