Posts filed under “War/Defense”

Preface: This essay is not intended as an endorsement of Ron Paul. Instead, it is intended to demonstrate why Ron Paul is becoming so popular, despite being virtually ignored by the mainstream media.

Americans: Rein In the Federal Reserve

CNN notes:

“We are seeing a level of enthusiasm for Ron Paul that can be compared with President Obama in 2008″, said Eric Brakey, Media Coordinator for NYC Liberty HQ, the grassroots organization hosting the rally for the candidate. “Congressman Paul’s youth support is different now than it was during his last presidential campaign. It’s more organized and it’s picking up steam and continues to grow”.

As the longtime congressman from Texas stepped onto the stage, the crowd screamed with enthusiasm. The audience’s biggest reaction came when he spoke about ending the Federal Reserve. “The country has changed in the last four years, but my message hasn’t changed” Paul said. “The country is ripe for a true revolution”.

At least 75% of the American people want a full audit of the Fed, and most were against reconfirming Bernanke.

Indeed, as Bloomberg noted last December:

A majority of Americans are dissatisfied with the nation’s independent central bank, saying the U.S. Federal Reserve should either be brought under tighter political control or abolished outright, a poll shows.

***

Americans across the political spectrum say the Fed shouldn’t retain its current structure of independence. Asked if the central bank should be more accountable to Congress, left independent or abolished entirely, 39 percent said it should be held more accountable and 16 percent that it should be abolished. Only 37 percent favor the status quo.

As I have extensively documented, the Fed is largely responsible for the economic crisis, and has failed to meet a single one of its stated mandates (let alone its implied ones).

Americans Are Sick and Tired of Never-Ending War

Ron Paul is also gaining popularity because he is against the never-ending War On Terror, and wants to bring the troops home. Americans are sick of the never-ending, ever-creeping war. See this, this and this.

As Talking Points Memo reported earlier this month:

“…Only about a quarter say the wars in Iraq (26%) and Afghanistan (25%) have lessened the chances of terrorist attacks in the United States,” the Pew report reads. “In both cases majorities say the wars either have increased the risk of terrorism in this country or made no difference.”

Top American military leaders agree, saying that the war on terror has weakened our national security.

Read More

Category: Politics, Think Tank, War/Defense

Ray Kelly: Fighting terrorism in New York City

Scott Pelley brings viewers on a personal tour conducted by Police Commissioner Ray Kelly of what may be the world’s most sophisticated terror defense forces – the New York City Police Department’s counter terrorism unit.

Excerpt:

Now, 10 years after 9/11, with an investment of billions of dollars, Kelly has created, what he believes, is the most powerful and technologically advanced counter-terrorism bureau that anyone has ever seen.

By air, land and sea – the nation’s largest counter-terrorism squad is on the beat in America’s largest city. One thousand officers – many of them armed like soldiers – are part of a presence that is meant to send a message: New York City is too tough a target. NYPD counter-terrorism is the creation of police Commissioner Ray Kelly.

Ray Kelly: We’re the number one target in this country. That’s the consensus of the intelligence community. We’re the communications capital. We’re the financial capital. We’re a city that’s been attacked twice successfully. We’ve had 13 terrorist plots against the city since September 11. No other city has had that.

Kelly is a classic cop. He started as an NYPD cadet and rose all the way to commissioner. He left the force before 9/11. But within four months of the attack, the mayor asked him to come back.

Story
Fighting terrorism in New York City

Category: Video, War/Defense

The Co-Chair of the Congressional Inquiry into 9/11 and former Head of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Bob Graham, previously stated that an FBI informant had hosted and rented a room to two hijackers in 2000 and that, when the Inquiry sought to interview the informant, the FBI refused outright, and then hid him in an…Read More

Category: Really, really bad calls, Think Tank, War/Defense

Relentless Media Hype

I’ve already had my say about what happened 10 years ago. I do not feel a compelling need to revisit it again and again and again. MSNBC is replaying their September 11, 2001 broadcast; the WSJ made their entire 9/12 paper available online. Other outlets are doing similar “tributes” if thats the right word. I…Read More

Category: War/Defense

The $ Cost of 9/11

I try to avoid getting caught up in the 9/11 retrospective hype. I’ve already had my say (A Personal Recollection From a Day of Horror (September 12th, 2001). Meanwhile, here is the NYT’s infographic of the numbers: Al Qaeda spent roughly half a million dollars to destroy the World Trade Center and cripple the Pentagon….Read More

Category: Digital Media, War/Defense

9/11 and the War on Terror: Polls Show What People Think 10 Years Later

Polls Show that Americans Think We Overreacted, Overspent and Weakened Ourselves Through the War on Terror As the Brooking Institution reported yesterday, Americans that the government overreacted and overspent in reaction to 9/11: These are a summary of findings of a new poll conducted by the Program on International Policy Attitudes (PIPA) and the Anwar…Read More

Category: Think Tank, War/Defense

The Geopolitics of the United States, Part 1: The Inevitable Empire
John Mauldin
August 25, 2011

Take a good look at the image below. You’ll see how a picture is not only worth a thousand words, but can explain the success of an entire nation. Crops to rivers, rivers to ports – the trade foundation of a country can be summarized in a single image. Sure it stirs up memories of Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn and the Mighty Mississippi, but this is the foundation of the US as a global power and a fascinating look at the backbone of the American economy.

http://media.stratfor.com/files/mmf/d/e/de5881d73ea2615897ac2f1bde6fe9c23c38c8cb.jpg

We all remember junior high geography (well, some of it, anyway). But somehow it didn’t cover how critical geography is in the development of a nation… and that it is, for example, the primary reason the United States became a global power. The territory of the U.S. simply comprises all the right geographic elements to make its occupants an inevitable global force. Yesterday, STRATFOR, my favorite source for geopolitical analysis of world affairs, published The Inevitable Empire, part I of a fascinating assessment of the United States. In it you’ll learn how geography shaped the nation’s behavior throughout history, and what it means for U.S. foreign policy today. It’s a perfect example of the kind of insight STRATFOR provides that you won’t find anywhere else.

>> Join STRATFOR at the special rate for OTB readers << just in time for their release of The Geopolitics of the United States, Part 2: American Identity and the Threats of Tomorrow. In addition, you’ll get a copy of The Next Decade, the New York Times bestselling book released earlier this year by STRATFOR Founder and CEO George Friedman. But check it out now, I hear this deal only lasts until Monday.

Your proud to be an American analyst,

John Mauldin, Editor
Outside the Box

JohnMauldin@2000wave.com

The Geopolitics of the United States, Part 1: The Inevitable Empire

August 24, 2011 | 1556 GMT


Editor’s Note: This installment on the United States, presented in three parts, is the 16th in a series of STRATFOR monographs on the geopolitics of countries influential in world affairs.

Related Special Topic Page

Like nearly all of the peoples of North and South America, most Americans are not originally from the territory that became the United States. They are a diverse collection of peoples primarily from a dozen different Western European states, mixed in with smaller groups from a hundred more. All of the New World entities struggled to carve a modern nation and state out of the American continents. Brazil is an excellent case of how that struggle can be a difficult one. The United States falls on the opposite end of the spectrum.

The American geography is an impressive one. The Greater Mississippi Basin together with the Intracoastal Waterway has more kilometers of navigable internal waterways than the rest of the world combined. The American Midwest is both overlaid by this waterway, and is the world’s largest contiguous piece of farmland. The U.S. Atlantic Coast possesses more major ports than the rest of the Western Hemisphere combined. Two vast oceans insulated the United States from Asian and European powers, deserts separate the United States from Mexico to the south, while lakes and forests separate the population centers in Canada from those in the United States. The United States has capital, food surpluses and physical insulation in excess of every other country in the world by an exceedingly large margin. So like the Turks, the Americans are not important because of who they are, but because of where they live.

The North American Core

North America is a triangle-shaped continent centered in the temperate portions of the Northern Hemisphere. It is of sufficient size that its northern reaches are fully Arctic and its southern reaches are fully tropical. Predominant wind currents carry moisture from west to east across the continent.

Climatically, the continent consists of a series of wide north-south precipitation bands largely shaped by the landmass’ longitudinal topography. The Rocky Mountains dominate the Western third of the northern and central parts of North America, generating a rain-shadow effect just east of the mountain range — an area known colloquially as the Great Plains. Farther east of this semiarid region are the well-watered plains of the prairie provinces of Canada and the American Midwest. This zone comprises both the most productive and the largest contiguous acreage of arable land on the planet.

East of this premier arable zone lies a second mountain chain known as the Appalachians. While this chain is far lower and thinner than the Rockies, it still constitutes a notable barrier to movement and economic development. However, the lower elevation of the mountains combined with the wide coastal plain of the East Coast does not result in the rain-shadow effect of the Great Plains. Consequently, the coastal plain of the East Coast is well-watered throughout.

In the continent’s northern and southern reaches this longitudinal pattern is not quite so clear-cut. North of the Great Lakes region lies the Canadian Shield, an area where repeated glaciation has scraped off most of the topsoil. That, combined with the area’s colder climate, means that these lands are not nearly as productive as regions farther south or west and, as such, remain largely unpopulated to the modern day. In the south — Mexico — the North American landmass narrows drastically from more than 5,000 kilometers (about 3,100 miles) wide to, at most, 2,000 kilometers, and in most locations less than 1,000 kilometers. The Mexican extension also occurs in the Rocky Mountain/Great Plains longitudinal zone, generating a wide, dry, irregular uplift that lacks the agricultural promise of the Canadian prairie provinces or American Midwest.

The continent’s final geographic piece is an isthmus of varying width, known as Central America, that is too wet and rugged to develop into anything more than a series of isolated city-states, much less a single country that would have an impact on continental affairs. Due to a series of swamps and mountains where the two American continents join, there still is no road network linking them, and the two Americas only indirectly affect each other’s development.

The most distinctive and important feature of North America is the river network in the middle third of the continent. While its components are larger in both volume and length than most of the world’s rivers, this is not what sets the network apart. Very few of its tributaries begin at high elevations, making vast tracts of these rivers easily navigable. In the case of the Mississippi, the head of navigation — just north of Minneapolis — is 3,000 kilometers inland.

The network consists of six distinct river systems: the Missouri, Arkansas, Red, Ohio, Tennessee and, of course, the Mississippi. The unified nature of this system greatly enhances the region’s usefulness and potential economic and political power. First, shipping goods via water is an order of magnitude cheaper than shipping them via land. The specific ratio varies greatly based on technological era and local topography, but in the petroleum age in the United States, the cost of transport via water is roughly 10 to 30 times cheaper than overland. This simple fact makes countries with robust maritime transport options extremely capital-rich when compared to countries limited to land-only options. This factor is the primary reason why the major economic powers of the past half-millennia have been Japan, Germany, France, the United Kingdom and the United States.

Second, the watershed of the Greater Mississippi Basin largely overlays North America’s arable lands. Normally, agricultural areas as large as the American Midwest are underutilized as the cost of shipping their output to more densely populated regions cuts deeply into the economics of agriculture. The Eurasian steppe is an excellent example. Even in modern times it is very common for Russian and Kazakh crops to occasionally rot before they can reach market. Massive artificial transport networks must be constructed and maintained in order for the land to reach its full potential. Not so in the case of the Greater Mississippi Basin. The vast bulk of the prime agricultural lands are within 200 kilometers of a stretch of navigable river. Road and rail are still used for collection, but nearly omnipresent river ports allow for the entirety of the basin’s farmers to easily and cheaply ship their products to markets not just in North America but all over the world.

Third, the river network’s unity greatly eases the issue of political integration. All of the peoples of the basin are part of the same economic system, ensuring constant contact and common interests. Regional proclivities obviously still arise, but this is not Northern Europe, where a variety of separate river systems have given rise to multiple national identities.

http://media.stratfor.com/files/mmf/d/e/de5881d73ea2615897ac2f1bde6fe9c23c38c8cb.jpg

(click here to enlarge image)

It is worth briefly explaining why STRATFOR fixates on navigable rivers as opposed to coastlines. First, navigable rivers by definition service twice the land area of a coastline (rivers have two banks, coasts only one). Second, rivers are not subject to tidal forces, greatly easing the construction and maintenance of supporting infrastructure. Third, storm surges often accompany oceanic storms, which force the evacuation of oceanic ports. None of this eliminates the usefulness of coastal ports, but in terms of the capacity to generate capital, coastal regions are a poor second compared to lands with navigable rivers.

There are three other features — all maritime in nature — that further leverage the raw power that the Greater Mississippi Basin provides. First are the severe indentations of North America’s coastline, granting the region a wealth of sheltered bays and natural, deep-water ports. The more obvious examples include the Gulf of St. Lawrence, San Francisco Bay, Chesapeake Bay, Galveston Bay and Long Island Sound/New York Bay.

Second, there are the Great Lakes. Unlike the Greater Mississippi Basin, the Great Lakes are not naturally navigable due to winter freezes and obstacles such as Niagara Falls. However, over the past 200 years extensive hydrological engineering has been completed — mostly by Canada — to allow for full navigation on the lakes. Since 1960, penetrating halfway through the continent, the Great Lakes have provided a secondary water transport system that has opened up even more lands for productive use and provided even greater capacity for North American capital generation. The benefits of this system are reaped mainly by the warmer lands of the United States rather than the colder lands of Canada, but since the Great Lakes constitute Canada’s only maritime transport option for reaching the interior, most of the engineering was paid for by Canadians rather than Americans.

Third and most important are the lines of barrier islands that parallel the continent’s East and Gulf coasts. These islands allow riverine Mississippi traffic to travel in a protected intracoastal waterway all the way south to the Rio Grande and all the way north to the Chesapeake Bay. In addition to serving as a sort of oceanic river, the island chain’s proximity to the Mississippi delta creates an extension of sorts for all Mississippi shipping, in essence extending the political and economic unifying tendencies of the Mississippi Basin to the eastern coastal plain.

Thus, the Greater Mississippi Basin is the continent’s core, and whoever controls that core not only is certain to dominate the East Coast and Great Lakes regions but will also have the agricultural, transport, trade and political unification capacity to be a world power — even without having to interact with the rest of the global system.

http://media.stratfor.com/files/mmf/1/9/195c5763ef421725cc8c4d16b276bd1d241e37f3.jpg

(click here to enlarge image)

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Category: Think Tank, War/Defense

Qaddafi, Bernanke & Stock Markets

Qaddafi, Bernanke & Stock Markets David R. Kotok August 21, 2011 ~~~ News reports continue to show the progressive demise of the Qaddafi regime in Libya. Rebel forces have apparently taken more of the country’s oil refining (Zawiya) and processing infrastructure (Brega). Most observers give the Qaddafi regime limited time before a full regime change…Read More

Category: Energy, Think Tank, War/Defense

Pentagon: We Cannot Account for Trillions in Budget

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Source:
Budget Buster: Pentagon Unable to Account for “Trillions,” Glain Says
Peter Gorenstein
Daily Ticker August 12 2011
http://finance.yahoo.com/blogs/daily-ticker/budget-buster-pentagon-unable-account-trillions-glain-says-160838112.html

Category: Politics, Video, War/Defense

Mapping The Arab World

Nice interactive graphic from Economist: Click into interactive map for more information Source: The Economist

Category: Digital Media, War/Defense