"But war, in a good cause, is not the greatest evil which a nation can suffer. War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things: the decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks nothing worth a war, is worse. When a people are used as mere human instruments for firing cannon or thrusting bayonets, in the service and for the selfish purposes of a master, such war degrades a people. A war to protect other human beings against tyrannical injustice – a war to give victory to their own ideas of right and good, and which is their own war, carried on for an honest purpose by their free choice – is often the means of their regeneration. A man who has nothing which he is willing to fight for, nothing which he cares more about than he does about his personal safety, is a miserable creature who has no chance of being free, unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself. As long as justice and injustice have not terminated their ever-renewing fight for ascendancy in the affairs of mankind, human beings must be willing, when need is, to do battle for the one against the other."

Friday, February 06, 2009

Beware Russians bearing gifts; and when the cure is worse than the disease

With geopolitical timing that I'm sure was coincidental, the former Soviet republic of Kyrgyzstan recently announced that it'd be closing a major U.S. air base on its territory shortly after President Obama took office. A coincidence, like I said; I'm sure the $2.15 billion in financial aid that Russia just offered Kyrgyzstan when the announcement was made had nothing to do with it. They're just being good neighbors. Not to worry, though; Putin and Co. say we can ship stuff to Afghanistan through their territory. After all, unless you're an uppity former Soviet republic with the bad fortune to have a gas pipeline running through your country, or an Old World that made the bad choice to be dependent on Gazprom, you'll be fine (also, try not to be a journalist. It's open season on them in Russia with no bag limit). This proposal might just take the top spot on my current list of Really, Really, Really Bad Ideas.

And, as much as I really don't want to get into domestic politics, I have to take the current stimulus proposal and throw it on my list as #2. It's not a great sign when a governmental office tells you that enacting the bill would actually be worse than doing nothing. And if you're in the sort of mood about this vomitous piece of legislation where warming your bath with a toaster seems like fun, take a look at the top fifty really, really, really useless items in this bill. I'm starting to think that the place I'll come back to after this deployment will not so much be a country as a teenager's credit card.

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