Thursday, September 22, 2016

Trump, Putin and NATO: worrying development

The quote below is from the Sept. 9 article Why Donald Trump can't stop praising Vladimir Putin, by Jeet Heer at the New Republic:

"Donald Trump has long shown admiration and respect for Vladimir Putin, saying that the authoritarian Russian president is “doing a great job” in “rebuilding Russia,” and “I think I’d get along very well with Vladimir Putin.” After Putin called Trump a “talented person” last year, he returned the favor: “It is always a great honor to be so nicely complimented by a man so highly respected within his own country and beyond.”

So it came as no surprise when he praised Putin during NBC’s “Commander-in-Chief Forum” on Wednesday night. “The man has very strong control over a country,” Trump told Matt Lauer. “It’s a very different system and I don’t happen to like the system, but certainly, in that system, he’s been a leader, far more than our president has been a leader.”...

Americans, though, feel less affection for the Russian strongman. A Bloomberg poll conducted last month found that 69 percent of respondents were bothered by Trump’s praise of Putin, the seventh-highest concern about the Republican nominee.  

Why, then, does Trump continue to show affection for Putin? Some journalists have tried to explain it in crass economic terms, by pointing to evidence that Trump has borrowed money from Russian oligarchs and that former campaign manager Paul Manafort was handsomely compensated by Putin allies in the Ukraine..."

Next, I am copying from How Donald Trump's Rhetoric on NATO Works to Vladimir Putin's Advantage, by Michael Singh at the Aug. 7 Wall Street Journal:

"To see Donald Trump’s rhetoric on NATO strictly through the lens of U.S. politics would be a mistake. Mr. Trump has called the alliance “obsolete” and questioned the U.S. commitment to defend NATO allies...

In an election year, it is tempting to dismiss as partisan division such divergence from long-standing U.S. policy... Russian President Vladimir Putin, however, probably sees the growing skepticism toward NATO not as an unexpected twist in the U.S. political debate but as the intended outcome of a Russian policy designed to deter the United States.

Consider: Russian forces have acted boldly in Georgia, Ukraine, and Syria. They have become increasingly aggressive toward U.S. forces. Analysts have had to reassess Moscow’s willingness to take risks. Meanwhile, Russia has threatened to use nuclear weapons to counter conventional threats and quickly close conflicts, a strategy it describes as “escalate to deescalate.”

To Mr. Putin, wavering in the U.S. commitment to the NATO alliance is vindication of this approach. He will not fail to highlight U.S. vacillation to Eastern European states, where leaders may increasingly feel pressure to hedge their bets on U.S. support against Russia and other threats. This vicious cycle could result in the success of a Russian strategy to “destroy our alliance, not by attacking it but by splintering it,” as the commander of U.S. Army forces in Europe, Lt. Gen. Ben Hodges, put it last year..."

Today, Sept. 22, is Bulgaria's Independence Day. I hope that despite these scary trends my country and all of Eastern Europe will retain independence.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Go to therapy at your own risk

In today's West, whenever we are emotionally overwhelmed, we are advised to "go to therapy". Unfortunately, if we follow the advice, this most often means that some individual with a pseudo-scientific diploma will charge us nice round sums for asking us very personal questions. I like the dialog below, borrowed from the Greek Mythology Olympiaganza by Don Zolidis. It shows Cronus and Rhea in a psychotherapy office, trying in vain to save their marriage.

"NARRATOR 2: Now I know what you’re thinking out there: I’m not sure this is the proper family
relationship. But you’re just looking at it with modern eyes, in ancient times it was perfectly acceptable to... okay, it was always gross.

RHEA: Cronos, can we talk?

CRONOS: Sure honey, what’s up?

RHEA: This is hard for me to say: I’d like you to stop eating our children.

CRONOS: Nag nag nag nag nag, that’s all you ever do!

NARRATOR 2: So Rhea did the only thing she could do - they went to therapy.

(A COUNSELOR enters and they sit.)

THERAPIST: That’s interesting. And how do you feel about him eating the children?

RHEA: It makes me feel… upset.


RHEA: Because he’s a jerk -

THERAPIST: That’s a blaming statement. We’re not using blaming statements here.

CRONOS: I feel upset now.

THERAPIST: It’s okay, Cronos. It’s Rhea’s turn to share right now. Are you listening to her?


THERAPIST: Good. I think we’re making progress. Go on Rhea. Tell Cronos how you feel.

RHEA: Cronos, when you eat my babies it makes me…

THERAPIST: If you don’t share your feelings with him, he’ll never know.

RHEA: It makes me feel angry because a lot of work into those babies and you eating them…

THERAPIST: Keep going! We’re getting somewhere now.

RHEA: Means that you’re eating our love.

CRONOS: Can I respond to that?

THERAPIST: Please. That’s why we’re here.

CRONOS: Rhea -

THERAPIST: Yes. Look at her.

CRONOS: You need to stop complaining or I’ll eat you next.

THERAPIST: No no we’re backsliding, remember what we talked about in our last session -

CRONOS: No death threats -

THERAPIST: That’s right, no death threats. Positive statements, Cronos. Positive statements.

CRONOS: Okay, um… it makes me feel good to threaten to kill -

THERAPIST: No. No. Cronos?

CRONOS: Okay. Rhea, I’m sorry you’re upset that I eat our children. But… I don’t feel that… you
respect my decision to eat the children enough -

RHEA: What!

THERAPIST: Listen to him. Hear him out.

RHEA: He’s crazy!

CRONOS: This is what I’m talking about, Doctor. Right there. No respect!

RHEA: I don’t respect anyone who eats babies!

CRONOS: Oh sure and you’ve never done anything wrong in this marriage! What about that time
when the soup was cold?


CRONOS: You’re not even trying to make this marriage work!

RHEA: Are you kidding me?!

THERAPIST (overlapping): Let’s try to remain positive -

CRONOS: Where is the love?! Huh? Where is the affection!!!

THERAPIST: Okay. Okay. Stop. Let’s just sit down and try to move forward. We’re going to try an
exercise I like to call `sharing time’. So here’s what we do: Cronos, you share something you haven’t told Rhea, and then Rhea, you share something you haven’t told Cronos. Okay? Can we try that?

CRONOS: I guess.

THERAPIST: Cronos. You first. What haven’t you told Rhea?

CRONOS: Um… Rhea… I think your sister is hotter than you.

RHEA: What!

THERAPIST: Now Rhea. What would you like to share with Cronos?

RHEA: Okay - you know how the last baby you ate was all tough?

CRONOS: I figured he was going to be god of earthquakes or something.

RHEA: Actually that wasn’t a baby. That was a rock.


RHEA: And I’ve been raising that child ever since to kill you.


RHEA: Come on in, Zeus!

(ZEUS enters.)

CRONOS: See what I mean! She’s been lying to me!

RHEA: Kill him Zeus!

THERAPIST (shouting over them): There has to be a healthier way to address family conflicts!

RHEA: Get him boy!

ZEUS: Rarrrrrgh!

NARRATOR 2: Oh yeah, and in the middle of this Cronos puked up all the kids he had eaten and they banded together and -
(they all stop to look at him.)
What? I’m not making this up. This is straight from Wikipedia."

My fears about the future of Europe and the world

My friend Bill Moulton, commenting on my previous post, agreed with those who think that the world is getting better.

I have had times when I have thought the same, e.g. after the fall of communism in 1989, the breakdown of the Soviet Union in 1991 and the ending of wars in former Yugoslavia by NATO intervention. However, most of the time I have been pessimistic about the future of Europe and the whole mankind, esp. after the mid-2000s.

Of course, when people say that "there are now more forcibly displaced people worldwide than there have been at any point since World War II", one important reason is that there are now more people in general than there have been at any point in world history. However, I see little reason for optimism here. The current human population growth, and I think even the current absolute number of humans, is unsustainable. Look at the chart below, based on data from Wikipedia:

The last point corresponds to the 2014 estimate of 7,215,000,000 people. How do you imagine the future of a population with this dynamics? It can curb and become flat and then decline slowly. This is the optimistic scenario. However, it can also curb and decline fast, like a bacterial culture in the death phase.

Actually, I think the very fact that we are making comparisons with the catastrophic immediate aftermath of World War II speaks volumes, even if the comparisons are reassuring.

The global political situation is grim. Pax Americana is over. Bush Jr. compromised it, then Obama destroyed it altogether. It was not perfect, but I miss it. Without it, the world is scary. Even if you take such a minor but telltale sign as the resurgence of piracy that accompanied also the end of Pax Romana.

With the decline of US power, of course, every well-armed bandit state makes a bid for the vacant superpower status. Russia is invading, killing and grabbing land once again, pulling down by force other nations to the level of its misery. No one in Eastern Europe should feel safe anymore.

There is, however, an even more sinister threat to Europe: the invasion of Islam. The large-scale, uncontrolled migration from Third World Muslim countries to Europe is threatening to destroy the cultures of the continent and to reduce its native population to pariah status, a fate my nation has already suffered in its history, living under Ottoman domination for almost 5 centuries. Frankly, with the current scale of the migration process and the determination of European elites to continue it at all costs and against the will of ordinary Europeans, I see little hope for the future of Europe. In 100 years, I imagine the continent as a conglomerate of Muslim-majority states, all of them failed by any reasonable standard, as is now every single Muslim-majority state on Earth.

I expect now that indignant readers will jump to the comment form and start writing that most Muslims are good people. Of course, they are. But the same can be said about most early Indo-Europeans, most Huns of Attila, most Ottoman Turks, most European settlers in the Americas, and most Germans and Russians in the 1930s and 1940s. Every single human wave in history and prehistory that has wreaked misery and destroyed civilizations on its way has been composed mostly of nice people, if you don't judge them too harshly. This, however, is small consolation for the victims.

America could at least take a lesson from Europe and down-regulate Muslim immigration before it's too late. There is, however, little hope for this. The only high-profile politician promising such a policy is the Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump. However, he is an aggressive mentally unstable crook and habitual liar who shouldn't be trusted to run a grocery store. The Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton, who will most likely be the next leader of the free world, is an appeaser of Islam and promoter of large-scale Muslim immigration.

These days, several bombs were planted in New York and New Jersey, and some exploded, injuring more than 30 people (happily, nobody was killed). Such Islamist terror acts, which I interpret as claims for domination, are becoming more and more often. So far, there is a single suspect - Ahmad Khan Rahami (28), an immigrant from Afghanistan. Well, can you guess whom is Clinton blaming? Not the terrorists, and not the religion/ideology inspiring them, but her opponent! Because, as she allegedly said, "Trump's comments have been used online for the recruitment of terrorists". With such a leader, Allah help the free world, or what has remained of it. My American online friends are divided in their choice for whom to vote, but no matter whether it's Clinton or Trump, they will vote holding their noses.

The good news is that the dracunculiasis eradication campain is close to its successful ending, and the polio eradication campaign is advancing, although extremist Muslims try to stop it by attacking and killing vaccination workers. Let's hope that Dracunculus and the polio virus will share the fates of smallpox and rinderpest viruses. Whatever troubles has the future in store, it will be better to face them in a polio-free world.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Hopefully, no monster mosque next to Ground Zero

Today, at the 15th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks, I do not feel optimistic. I am afraid for the world, for the civilization. (To me, "clash of civilizations" is an euphemism, for I see only one civilization.) There is, however, a small piece of symbolic good news that is worth mentioning. It is related to the project to build a monster mosque nest to Ground Zero. After years of opposition from American citizens, and reluctance even of Muslims to pray or gather at this site, the developers of the project have announced that they back off from their original idea and will build a luxury condominium instead.