‘Genocide’ As Crutch Term for “Things going horribly wrong”

Look, I get that State-to-State diplomacy is insanely complex. Truly I do. But how is it possible that policy makers let these “lack of land/food/economic opportunity” situations build up to a political crisis *so godd*mn* often, culminating in costly million+ dollar emergency aid/security interventions?

It seems like “genocide” becomes the buzzword that finally justifies substantive intervention, although by the time allegations genocide are in play, your intervention options are constrained.

The easy answer is the blame the State Department or USAID. They’re nice punching bags. Their job is to fix and prevent these problems, right? What are we paying them for?

The larger issue, I’m afraid, is that the ordinary citizens fail to fill the gap. Rather, most of us don’t know *how* and the means aren’t there.

Folks in developing countries need substantive, mutually respectful interaction with their international peers: artist to artist, entrepreneur to entrepreneur, engineer to engineer. They need partners, investors and capital (incl. equipment).

Micro-Loans are a start, but banks can only provide fuel if there’s a car and a driver. “Social Entrepreneurship” funds like Acumen are giving people the power and confidence to invest in start ups like poultry farms, but the investors aren’t really the average citizen.

The enthusiasm for “Fair Trade” products (however the real cost/gains calculus works out for the intended beneficiaries) shows that “Western” consumers will support producers in developing countries through purchase preferences. But that only works if there are companies that can justify (i.e. profit) the cost of importing and doing business in difficult countries.

Most of all, there needs to be more focus on “South-South” trade, i.e. developing countries producing goods for one another. If you want to help a city in the USA regain it’s footing, you’d be crazy if you told them to live in shacks and focus on one product to export to Brazil. You’d also want the city’s inhabitants to be selling things to one another, as well as their neighboring cities.

When ordinary U.S. citizens are failing/unable to invest their time/health/money in these countries *now*, they suffer worse consequences later. Money spent by the U.S. government on emergency interventions does not get repaid, especially in the recurring crisis-response-crisis-response loop. 

Like what’s happening with the global economy? Destabilized countries screw with existing international trade and prevent other consumers/innovators/producers from participating, i.e. the international economy is literally starving for new inputs, running off of fumes.

Never mind what security threats are bred in destabilized areas. (Like taking off your shoes at airports? That bullsh*t is justified by people ticked off by poverty and political repression in developing countries.)

So for now we enjoy the padding that comes with geography (oceans) and State institutions (e.g. Homeland Security, the Congressional Budget Office). But that padded wall gets thinner and thinner with every crisis.

We’d better find a better way to do this.

Steak and Empathy

This is an odd thought to ponder while finishing a delicious steak, but regardless of whether we reincarnate, humans as a whole do receive reciprocal negative treatment as dished out to animals. E.g. the logistics and ethics behind a system of confining, force-feeding and arbitrarily terminating animals are mirrored in the degree of freedom, health and personal dignity of citizens/subjects vis-a-vis “the rulers”. Cue the side-by-side images of Holocaust-bound Jews and slaughterhouse-destined cattle. So far there’s nothing unique about these notions.

What I’ve seen less of, on the other hand, is a picture of what the corresponding political-economic order is to the “be kind to animals” vegan/vegetarianism ethic. Just look at the way agriculture has shaped civilization. In a way, the way we get nutrients into our bodies guides the way we govern, play, trade, make war and – if you believe the archaeological theories – even pray. 

Examples abound. It’s easier to farm as a community/family than alone. Slaves/peasants grow food for feudal lords, while destroying food production is the best way of crushing an enemy’s resistance. Women sell their bodies to feed themselves or their families. Outer space colonization depends on the ability to grow food beyond Earth.

Given all this, it seems the shift away from eating animals would require an amazing and radical new matrix of technology, communication, empathy, climate, etc. – if not also “reprogramming” human biology.

That’s why I think some form veganism/vegetarianism is an evolutionary *possibility*. It’s possible that when sufficiently feeding the whole of humanity no longer requires meat, we may have progressed beyond other limitations as well.

Until then, I really enjoyed my steak with avocado, mango and oyster sauced kale.

Oy VOA vey

New Bill to require Voice of America to “toe U.S. line”

Good Gawd. I’ve had limited experience with VOA but I’ve always respected their work. First, when did “Freedom of the Press” stop being the “U.S. Line”? Second, f*ck me how effective do you think VOA is going to be overseas if it becomes an obvious propaganda mouthpiece. People in other countries actually have to credit what you’re saying for you to disseminate the information. That’s how influence works. Otherwise you might as well call VOA the “Pennsylvania Avenue Pravda” or “Uncle Sam Spam”.

Pity the bastard appointed to now ensure that the VOA provides a “clear and effective presentation of the policies of the United States”, as if anyone in Congress passing this bill could even explain American policy to a snapping turtle.

In my experience, folks in countries where there is restricted freedom of press/speech will tell you how much they admire the trash Americans can talk and publish about their leadership. Clip VOA’s balls for having an “anti-American bias” (as the Heritage Foundation alleges) and you can kiss some of that effectiveness goodbye.

Yes, what the politically-compromised State Dept/USAID needs is *less* diversity of voices. Let’s neuter another American press institution – wouldn’t want pesky journalistic integrity getting in the way of messaging.

Congress, if you want to make VOA more effective, let them be critical of the USA, and give them some *real* constructive accomplishments of U.S. foreign policy overseas. You know, like fixing the bullsh*t way we do economic development so that people have an economic base upon which to draw so that they can push for a more accountable government and more freedoms, like freedom of the press.