Our Friends and Allies

Our Friends and Allies 1/24/14 podcast

Remember Walt Kelly and Pogo’s firm statement “We has met the enemy and he is us.”?

We’re right back where we began.

Most of the civilized world is firmly set against Iran having nuclear weapons. Some are even against Iran’s rights to have nuclear anything…generators, weapons, medicines.

Ah, but then comes the question of money. The question of earning money from Iran once its UN imposed sanctions are weakened.

Recently in the press, we’ve been reading about the commercial junkets taken from Europe and Latin America to Iran to begin to re-establish trading ties with that nation.

We have a couple of thoughts about this development. If the international community is really afraid of what Iran might do with nuclear power, why on earth would it begin to woo Iran the minute UN Sanctions are even discussed as being lightened? Doesn’t this indicate that the world at large would rather trade and die than discipline and live?

In World Wars I and II we saw European arms manufacturers supplying all sides of the conflicts. No hesitation about which side one country or another favored, or what victory or defeat might mean. All was lost in search of corporate profits. Sweden, Germany, and the United States – the big three in armaments at those times, supplied all factions with virtually any weapon desired. No thought that the weaponry might be turned on those nations, just as when we assisted Afghanistan against the Russians, no thought of having the Afghanistans actually win and turn our weapons on us ourselves. The same, of course, goes for Iraq: when we left, we were so happy to get out we left armaments there that are now being used in a civil war that threatens to pull us back in.

Of course, both Iraq and Iran have oil, still the number one prize in an open market not yet ready to get serious about other forms of fuel.

Further, it occurs to us that since we have now reached the zenith of greed world-wide, why should European and Latin American countries be the only suitors to a freshly released and invigorated Iran? Russia too wants to re-establish trade ties with Iran. How can we let Russia do this to us? The answer, of course, is that we can’t stop them, and that therefore you can bet some of our own industrial giants are lining up to fly into Tehran to scope out the scene. Banks, oil-companies, industrial manufacturing. All would be thrilled to have as a new market 76 million moderately well-educated Iranians as a new market.

Can the US do anything about this legally? Or is the US Department of Defense also in the game, trying to hustle weapons and supplies to the Iranians when the sanction chains are loosened?

In last week’s New York Times Magazine was a long article about a one-time hedge fund manager who had awakened one day with the realization that he was working only to pile up money and that he already had enough piled up not to worry for the next hundred years. Happily he decided to do something else with his time that would benefit civilization and the nation, moving out of New York and into the wilds of a distant country scene to start and build businesses of which he could be proud.

There aren’t many like him, alas. So Wall Street works feverishly to feather all its nests, the devil take the hindmost. And what do we have? A situation that begins more and more to resemble the scene in 2006, just before the putative Great Recession – which by our accounts is still a Depression and likely to remain so. The markets keep climbing for no apparent good reason. The bubbles begin to pop up, swelling until that day when they, too, will burst. And when that happens, the figures we’ve been given about X per cent of the population controlling Y per cent of all the money in the world will again be meaningless to those who are not in that X per cent.

It is equally disturbing that audiences at “The Wolf of Wall Street” are still cheering on the guys who are greedy, and wanting to emulate them. (To emulate them is perfectly reasonable as they make money hand over foot.) What isn’t perfectly reasonable is to cheer Greed as vociferously as the audiences do, whether or not they’re aware of the fall-out: greedy people do less greedy people a lot of harm.

So if we’re concerned about the health and welfare of our nation, we need to be on the alert for signs of trouble. Whether our quote good guys end-of-quote get into the rush to work with Iran and pull in even more millions of dollars, or whether it’s the putative bad guys from abroad who do so makes no difference at all. The big question is whether these people, both groups, realize the danger with which they are flirting, because, folks, if Iran gets nuclear power in any other form beyond a source for electricity, all these canny investors may just find themselves being blown out of the sky by Israel, and perhaps even with the aid of the US. Is anyone thinking ahead?

One more brief thought. Keep your eye on Congress and the Trans Pacific Trade Agreement that is beginning to pick up steam in those hallowed halls. Like NAFTA before it, the benefits of this agreement will go not to the US generally, but instead to US industries who can manufacture, produce and ship back to the US goods that are more cheaply made in Asia. This was called “off-shoring,” in the last election, and in the coming one, who knows what it will be called? What will happen is that stockholders will profit, consumers will get it in the neck, and hundreds of thousands more American citizens will be down-sized or out of work. It will be presented by banks, oil, big business as a boon to the country. It will be nothing of the sort.

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