A reader responds to the Economist's latest article on the surging food prises:
Del Franklin wrote: April 23, 2008 20:03
. . .
. . .
The article speaks to the existing world wide waves, of subsidized mega-farms, poisoning the world with surplus grain aid, of emerging market's where elite cadres own all the land, the water, the oil, the coal, et al, and tax imported chicken, cars, tools, and anything the poor need to survive, to support their sickening lifestyles.
Where is the text devoted to stopping all subsidy programs to the world's farmers with a net worth in excess of $500,000.00, or a net income in excess of $200,000. Where is the admission, blank simple admission, that the excess population of South America and China, along with free, or greatly subsidized taxpayer's water for irrigation, led to California mega farm's destruction of America's small holder farmers, and the home grown tomato sandwich, the basis of civilization, not only in America, but in the universe (!!! NB).
The Economist published a special report on Israel. Of course there is so much controversy around everything related to Israel that probably reading the report will leave most people infuriated regardless of their political orientations. Nevertheless, in my view, the report and the leader make an interesting and high quality read.
I have no doubt that the special report will be reviewed a lot in the blogsphere and elsewhere and many will leave their comments on the site of the Economist itself (I already did :D), but right now I will limit myself to just a few quotes, though I may expand on this later.
In the leader from which this post borrowed its name, the Economist says:
The best 60th birthday present Israel could give itself is a new political system
. . .
Israel has achieved some remarkable things during its 60 years. But for the sake of its security and domestic well-being, it now needs a system that makes politicians answerable to voters, not to other politicians. What shape it should take—whether a mixture of proportional representation with electoral districts, higher thresholds to keep small parties out of the parliament, or just rules to make it harder to topple governments—is up to Israelis. Unfortunately, since their politicians will design and vote on it, it is unlikely to be optimal; but almost anything would be better than what there is now.
That was the leader. And near the end of the first article that opens the report the Economist has this:
. . .
Many Jews from the diaspora already view Israel as spiritually impoverished and uninviting. And when Israelis look at their neighbourhood, they see looming threats: a potential nuclear bomb in Iran; one of the world's most powerful guerrilla armies in Lebanon; growing extremism among the Palestinians; and everywhere the rise of popular Islamist parties that threaten to topple reluctantly pro-Western Arab autocrats. For the first time since 1948, real existential threats to Israel, at least in its Zionist form, are on the horizon.
Earlier this week George Bush was stabbed to death by a young Muslim freedom fighter after the defenses of the White House had been overran in a surprise attack by a group of Islamic radicals. Before his death the president had to go through humiliation of being expelled from the White House which has been transformed into a mosque by the young Muslim and his friends. In a recording by the TV crew of the Hamas affiliated al-Aqsa channel the president can be heard begging for his life before he was delivered several several crushing blows to the upper part of his body.
George Bush was dead by the time a medical crew has reached the scene.
Obituary: George W Bush
George Bush became famous, or better infamous, with his war on terror and the push for democracy in the Middle East that accompanied it. Afghanistan was invaded, then Iraq. At some stage pressure was applied onto the allied Arab and other Muslim regimes with a view of forcing these to liberalize their political systems.
The results were mostly unimpressive. Hundreds of volunteers came to Iraq from all over the Arab world to defeat the American crusade, though either by misunderstanding or through confusion most of these ended by blowing themselves up at Shia mosques and markets. Iraq has descended into a bloody civil war, while Afghanistan is constantly teetering on the brink of one. Radical Islamists took advantage of the elections in Gaza and scored impressive gains in Egypt and elsewhere. Even in Pakistan, where the elections did not end in the triumph of political Islam, they seem to have contributed very little to stopping the Islamic militancy but a lot to creating yet another corrupt and dysfunctional political system so characteristic of the country.
A wave of visceral anti Americanism has swept the world and the Middle East in particular in the wake of the American democratic adventure in the region. Even among the so called Arab secular democratic opposition most people can now hardly bear mere mentioning of the name George Bush. Eventually, even some neocon supporters of the president started having second thoughts about his obsession with holding elections everywhere where there is something moving that speaks Arabic.
From the beginning George Bush has been accused of dishonesty and having hidden agendas. The US push for democracy, many say, is a poorly masked attempt to take over the oil resources of the region. Some found the US at fault because of its refusal to recognize various pluralistic and democratic forces unleashed by the very democratic processes the US swears to support.
It's very remarkable that, regardless of whether the US push for democracy in the Middle East is held to be real or just a smokescreen for some old fashioned imperialist agenda, the prevailing opinion is that the US democratic program in the Middle East had failed long before its hapless author found his death in the White House turned a mosque. Even more, the common view seems to be that whatever passed for the US efforts to promote democracy in the Middle East, it has done more harm than good to the cause of this democracy.
We are thus left with a surprising consensus among majority of independent and dependent observers who appear to generally agree that, for the good of that very democracy the US claims to promote, it was time for George Bush and the US to retreat from the scene leaving their democracy in the Middle East project to those who can do it better.