Saturday, January 9, 2010
In a recent article he is quoted as saying, "China's hyperinflated economy looks like Dubai times 1,000." He claims that China is cooking it's books, purchasing and building on an excess of credit, and even faking it's over 8 percent growth. Mr. Chanos has a unique ability to research and identify inconsistencies among companies books, reports, numbers, profit margins, expenses, and futures forecasts. He has now trained a highly qualified staff of over 26 to do the same type of analysis, resulting in the most impressive record of foreseeing the collapse and shortcomings of some of the biggest busts in Wall Street history. It has paid off well for Mr. Chanos, making him and his company one of the most profitable and successfull groups around, without having to cook the books.
Now, as much as I want to disprove him for the sake of the markets and a recovery, I must admit that something inside me seems to think he is right. Afterall, his record is impressive. It's like a little voice is telling me that China and it's growth is too good to be true, that it can't last forever at the rate they are moving. How about you, have you ever felt that way about something? Well, I feel it with China.
Check out this article and read for yourself: Click Here.
Now for the repercussions:
China and it's fall could be disasterous(or fortunate depending on the particular issue) on many fronts, but either way everyone would agree that it would be game changing. For our purposes we can look at it's effects on the Middle East, regardless of the positive or negative perspective, but more for the resulting landscape of the Middle East in which China and America have a major vested interest. To start we can look at, for example, China's growing demand for energy and it's quests for resources. China has had a direct effect on the upward rise in the price of oil and the effects have been felt worldwide. China also has major influence on many other aspects of foreign policy from it's unconstructive stance towards Iran nuclear policy, to influencing Afghanistan's corruption, effecting general business practices in the region, and of course human rights.
Next we have the development and workforce effects. Estimates place the number of Chinese workers in the Middle East at around 50,000-100,000. This number is expected to increase over the coming years, but in the event of a fall, this number could be either decreased, or represent displaced Chinese in the region.
Now, I could go on and on about the repercussions, but I want to hear what you think. What, if any, would be your guess as to the major changes in the Middle East if China were to "fall" in the manner as predicted by Jim Chanos?
Thursday, January 7, 2010
Humam Khalil Abu Mulal al-Balawi, the al-Qaeda double agent who blew up the C.I.A team in eastern Afghanistan this week, is of Palestinian origins. His family said he was "greatly disturbed" after Operation Cast Led, the Israeli operation in Gaza last January.
Wow. Ok. So I have a lot of questions. Like, was he really as the Jordanian intelligence claims, loyal to hunting down top al-Qaeda targets before Cast Led? If so, was al-Balawi, a young doctor, radicalized as a result of watching his fellow Palestinians suffer by Israeli force? Did he want to punish America for supporting Israel during this time? The list clearly goes on..
If I am correctly connecting the dots on this one, this is the first time I recall reading about a Palestinian-Arab acting in Afghanistan against America because of Israel.
I have a hard time believing that al-Balawi convinced Jordanian intelligence--who vetted him in the first place--that he was actually on their side, when he really was not. The Jordanians are the best in the world when it comes to this kind of stuff. It seems much more plausible that he had a traumatic experience--perhaps from Cast Led--and decided that he was going to find some revenge because of such a life-changing event.
As for this whole "al-Qaeda" thing, well, I'm not so sure he was a die-hard ideologue, rather, just a man who read like a transnational because of his methods, i.e. suicide bombing in Afghanistan.
Again, if I am connecting the dots correctly, then this event serves as a whole new kind of reason as to why "we" must work to find a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Update: Stephen Walt is blogging about this issue now too. Thanks Columb.
Wednesday, January 6, 2010
The Israeli model, of course, would never work here, for innumerable reasons. Ben-Gurion airport processes nine million passengers a year. Baltimore-Washington International alone processes more than 20 million. Put aside considerations about civil liberties; physical space; and hiring (i.e. the tens of thousands of interrogators -- because that's what Israeli airport security agents are -- who would be needed to staff the checkpoints). There's no possible way to process through the system the number of flyers in America.
When I went to live abroad
Those same loved voices still I heard
It seemed they came along with me
In what country I might be
Yousef would weave a web, made bright
With tales of wonder and delight
But Suda’s gift was greater yet
From each stranger that she met
She could draw forth, such was her art
The inmost secrets of the heart
Tuesday, January 5, 2010
Monday, January 4, 2010
There is really only one group of people who like Hezbollah more than the mullahs in Iran, the regime in Syria and the hardasses of resistance in Lebanon. Can you guess? Yes, Western intellectuals have a love fetish for Hezbollah. They think about it; they talk about it; they even dream about it.
But it's true. Washington has been simulating crazy army war games since the 2006 War between Israel and Hezbollah for one simple reason: Israel uses many of the same American military tactics and weapons that suffered what at least appeared to be a draw (or defeat) against the non-conventional folk of Hezbollah's resistance force.
So keep dreaming you Westerners, I know this earthquake in conventional thought has rocked your world. But I want to go back to the question we explored a few posts ago: How Hezbollah gets its legitimacy.
Surly it is not systemically in government. For they control only a meager few of government ministries. So what is it? Here are some of the comments from the post I am talking about, Why Hezbollah is strong (a question not a statement).
Wastafarian writes: "Hizballah is respected because it's seen as one of the only groups that is truly fighting for Lebanon."
William deB. Mills comments: "Hezbollah, in contrast, represents a whole social group (the Shia)..." And, "...Hezbollah actually provides local governance - schools, hospitals, effective reconstruction after Israeli attacks."
CK educates: "Hezbollah, on the other hand has been more or less consistent in its views: anti-Israel, pro-Syria, pro-Iran. In a country where there hasn't been a constant political view since the French, Hezbollah's stance is, I assume, welcomed."
That's some thoughtful feedback as the question of "how" Hezbollah gets its non-systemic legitimacy in Lebanon. We must remember that if Hezbollah did not have local support, they would not have been even nearly as effective against the IDF in the summer of 2006.
So here is the twist for this blog post: I took the video below at a Hezbollah rally in the southern suburbs of Beirut as Hassan Nasrallah spoke and commemorated the third anniversary of the 2006 War (Friday, August 14, 2009).
Notice what you can at the rally. It looks like a Lebanese version of a grassroots Berkley festival in the 1960s. (There was food, things to buy and shops. All behind us that the camera didn't seem to capture.) After watching at least some of this crude movie, share what you see.
Perhaps the problem with all these Westerners obsessing over Hezbollah is that they only read about it and don't go to their events. Personally, I thought this was the best organized, most nationalistic and hands down the most mind blowing public event I've seen in Arab Middle East. For this--and really all the other reasons--is why I think Hezbollah is so strong with the people.
Sunday, January 3, 2010
From my home town, San Diego California, about 20,000 or so Marines, Guardsmen, and sailors are preparing for deployment courtesy of President Obama (Thanks for screwing San Diego's economy Barack). The estimates for spending in Afghanistan in 2010 alone are hovering around 100 billion. America is still in a recession (but apparently "recession" is just a word beceause we obviously have hundreds of billions of dollars to spend on foreign wars). Big banks and corporations will continue to receive bailouts from tax payer money while at the same time increasing fees and interest rates to their customers who payed for the bailout. The average hard working American will continue to get screwed by both the governement and the banking and credit card industry. I have not received my bailout. There is no universal healthcare in America. Yemen is a new word in the media, and soon to be very overused. Somalia is that pimple on Americas complexion that keeps resurfacing regardless of the proactive solution we rub on it before bed. Iran is still having fun with its science projects. Iraq is jealous of all the attention Afghanistan is getting, maybe it will start to act out to get some attention? The Palestinians are still without a state. Israel is still building its settlements. Russia is as corrupt as ever. Mexico can't seem to shake its drug habit. The polar bears are almost extinct, and the fish are still dissappearing. People are still doubting climate change despite the overwhelming evidence proving it is happening. Japan still hunts and kills protected whales despite the efforts of pretty much everyone who has a conscience. America is still facinated more with fashion and MTV reality shows than the enviornment and well, actual reality. Michael Jackson is dead but someone will undoubtedly claim to have seen him alive. Canada will remain mostly frozen tundra, but Greenland will continue to melt.
I'm pretty sure I missed a few things, but that brings me to the topic of this post. With the new year and a new decade on the horizon, what are some of your predictions for the future? Take a crack at it Casbahites, I dare you.