Joe Biden finally named his running mate for the Presidential campaign: Senator Kamala Harris.
This marks the first time ever that a colored woman is named a Vice President candidate. Personally, I am happy with this choice from Biden. Like many, I wanted to see Clinton win four years ago. It wasn’t because I am a fan of Hilary Clinton. It was because 1) I didn’t think her opponent would be good for America and 2) I wanted to see the first female President in the US history. I strongly believe that women are as good as men in governing a country. Take a look at the leaders of some advanced countries. Prime Minister of New Zealand is Jacinda Ardern, who masterfully has guided her country throughout this pandemic. In Finland, the Prime Minister is a 34-year-old woman named Sanna Marin. Chancellor of the powerful and rich Germany is Angela Merkel, who has been at the helm since 2005 and is considered a leader of the European Union as well. These women, in addition to so many female leaders in the corporate world, offer irrefutable proof of what women can do.
Representation is more important than ever. By choosing Kamala Harris, Biden highlighted his commitment to racial inclusion and representation. Senator Harris is a daughter of an Indian woman and a Jamaican man. Biden rode the wave of Black voters’ support, starting from South Carolina, to the Democratic nomination. With Senator Harris, he is telling young voters (Kamala Harris is 55 years old, more than 20 years younger than her running mate), female voters and minority voters that he is listening to them.
Senator Kamala Harris is an accomplished woman. She was elected as District Attorney in San Francisco in 2003 and then Attorney General of California. She became the first Indian American Senator in the history in 2017 and has been in the position ever since. She rose to prominence through her sharp questioning of Trump’s appointees and officials. Even though she ran an unsuccessful Presidential campaign last year, it shouldn’t take anything away from her achievements. I mean if anyone questions her candidacy for the VP, just look at Mike Pence, what he did as the Governor of Indiana and what he has done as the VP of America. Plus, her short stint in politics should be an advantage because she won’t be labeled as an establishment like Hilary Clinton, who didn’t get a lot of love for her long political career and scandals.
Kamala Harris’ record isn’t exactly spotless. She will have to answer for her record as a prosecutor and the AG of California. Some of her cases highlighted her tough-on-crime stance in the past which, in light of what has transpired in the country in the last couple of months, won’t be warmly received by voters. My thinking is that people’s ideology evolves over time. If one’s thinking doesn’t evolve, one doesn’t grow. If Kamala Harris owns up to her record and does a bit explaining and perhaps some apologizing, it will be better for her and Biden.
From what I have seen lately, the Biden-Harris ticket has a real chance of winning this upcoming election. If they do win and perform in the next four years, it’s likely that Kamala Harris will run for the next election as an “incumbent” with all the advantages of being one. After all, if they win this election and serve out their term in four years, Biden will be 82 years old and likely will not seek reelection. Fingers crossed. But I do hope that in about five years, I can see the first female President of the United States. Think about what that would do for young girls across the country.
A story on how Iceland managed to persuade teenagers to stay away from drinking & drugs
The percentage of 15- and 16-year-olds who had been drunk in the previous month plummeted from 42 percent in 1998 to 5 percent in 2016. The percentage who have ever used cannabis is down from 17 percent to 7 percent. Those smoking cigarettes every day fell from 23 percent to just 3 percent.
The 2nd stimulus package, if passed, is going to be an important event in our fight against Covid-19 and its implications. Both parties offered their own version of the package. The New York Times broke it down visually so that everybody can follow
An excellent commercial ads by Nike. This is very very well-done
I don’t have high hope for America till the end of 2020. Here’s why:
First of all, unlike in many other countries, I expect that we will still struggle with the pandemic in the next few months. If the last 6 months is any indication, it proves that we are not handling this crisis well. We reopened states not when we slowed down the spread sufficiently to the hundreds or teens, but when we were just past the worst point at the time. What happened two months after the reopening? The number of cases has been rising. We repeatedly hit record for the number of cases in a day. Deaths are rising. Yet, the folks in charge are still imploring parents and schools to send kids back to classes while a lot of people don’t wear masks, a proven method to slow down the spread. Even though there are some positive developments with regard to a vaccine, I expect that we are still months away from having the vaccine produced in mass for everybody. So, don’t be surprised that when winter comes, we are still in this mess.
Just to give you some perspective. Vietnam has had around 15 new cases in the last 4 days after 99 days without a community transmission. The country has been very careful and cautious when it comes to Covid-19. Despite the success that garnered global accolade, the borders have been closed to international flights since February. That’s how seriously we have taken this issue, and yet we still have new cases. In the US, not only do we not have a coordination between the federal government and states, but at the state level, there are some whose leadership is just outright terrible. What could possibly go wrong?
Secondly, this is an election year. It will get messy. Politics has always been messy, but if there was respect between candidates in the past (McCain and Obama, or Romney and Obama), the same can’t be expected of Trump, who is known for lies, misinformation and vulgar insults. In addition to the attacks from either candidate, there will be contesting of the results. Trump already laid the foundation for it. He and his officials voted by mail-in ballots in the past themselves, but have been campaigning hard against it, even though the current pandemic makes it dangerous for people to go vote. Unlike other candidates, he hasn’t committed to accepting the election results. Hence, I sometimes shudder when I think about what will happen between November 2020 and January 2021, if Trump loses.
Also, what has been happening in Portland is deeply troubling. The federal government sent in unnamed federal agents to the city to suppress protests that are largely peaceful, despite opposition from the governor, mayor and the state of Oregon’s senators. The violence depicted in the altercation between the agents and citizens is horrifying. It is the stuff of authoritarian regime that we lament in other countries, yet it is happening here in America. Trump already announced that he would do the same to other cities such as Albuquerque, Kansas or Chicago. All this travesty takes place without oversight. How is that not worrying?
There are other downstream effects such as the economy, job losses, healthcare, eviction, etc…But those three factors alone already make me pessimistic of America’s next 5 months now that July is almost over.
What can we do? I can’t do anything since I am just a lawful immigrant abiding by the laws and paying taxes without representation. But I do hope that Americans will stay focused on the upcoming elections, whether it’s for a Senate, Governor, Mayor or Congress seat, and vote. For the presidential election, I hope people will vote for Biden. Not because I like him. I don’t. I don’t like the fact that he invokes Obama whenever it’s convenient, but doesn’t own up to mistakes they made. I also prefer somebody younger. But Biden and Trump are the choices we have, and I do hope that Americans will vote at least for somebody who is a decent human-being. Even Lindsay Graham said in the past Biden was a decent man. Every progress that Biden may make, if he wins, will be incremental. Don’t expect drastic changes or progress overnight. The way the three branches are set up doesn’t allow for fast and dramatic changes, especially when the partisanship is so toxic now. But as long as we don’t stand still or go backwards, even when we are just inching forward a little bit at a time, I’ll take that.
Yesterday, the Patriot Act team released an excellent segment on the US election. It discussed the core issue of the elections in America, the issue that leads to so many malfunctions in the way this country is governed. Yes, we are familiar with voter suppression, electoral college and gerrymandering, but Hasan Minhaj went to the root cause of all: the winner-takes-all system. I’ll let him explain it to you.
Hasan said something pretty significant in his piece: America is a minority-ruled country. Democrats won more popular votes than Republicans in many of the last elections, on many levels, but the party that has controlled the three branches and even the judicial system is Republican. Worse, more than 50% of eligible voters want a 3rd party candidate, yet they can’t have it.
If a country is minority-ruled, does it still have a democracy? The two parties hate each other and increasingly over the years. I don’t see the end of such extreme and toxic partisanship in the future. The implications include the erosion of America’s competitiveness. When the parties in the government are busy fighting with each other and cancelling out the other’s policies, where would progress come from?
At the end of the piece, Hasan made a proposal on how to eliminate the winner-takes-all system and help with the partisanship. The proposal was actually tested in Maine and brought promising results. However, given the politicians on both sides are more concerned with keeping their seats, I don’t see it happening soon.
Speaking of the erosion of America’s competitiveness, Trump signed an executive order today to suspend H1B and other work visas till the end of the year. America relies on foreign talent a lot. After all, it calls itself: The land of opportunity. People around the world, including myself 4 years ago, looked to America as the land to make our lives better and realize our dream. The anti-immigrant rhetoric since Trump took office has been anything, but welcoming to immigrants. Yet, the action today took it to another level. American companies, universities and research academia can’t attract foreign talent for the next 6 months. The executive order seems easy on paper, but significant in real life as it affects thousands of lives. People will go somewhere else for higher education and jobs. People who are already in the US will ponder what to do next. Personally, this action today will mean that I won’t be able to see my family in Vietnam in the next few months. If I visit Vietnam before this Executive Order ends, I won’t be able to come back.
People around the world used to hold America to a very high standard. You guys often like to say it: we are a beacon of hope. I bet many still do now. If you ask my dad, he’ll tell you how much he admires America. So, it’s sad to see the standard being lowered every day.
How Supreme Court puts its thumb on the scale to seemingly savor the police
Qualified immunity is a legal protection granted by Supreme Court to shield government employees from frivolous lawsuits. In the case of the police which can exercise lethal forces upon citizens, the implications of qualified immunity can be profound. While it’s legitimate to offer police officers latitude in doing their job, qualified immunity can also be overused as a protection from misdemeanors. In this article, Reuters looked into how Supreme Court sided with the police in case involving use of excessive force. I highly recommend that you read the article. Some highlights that I think are important are as follows
In a dissent to a 2018 ruling, Sotomayor, joined by fellow liberal Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, wrote that the majority’s decision favoring the cops tells police that “they can shoot first and think later, and it tells the public that palpably unreasonable conduct will go unpunished.”
In that case, Kisela v. Hughes, the justices threw out a lower court’s ruling that denied immunity to a Tucson, Arizona, cop who shot a mentally ill woman four times as she walked down her driveway while holding a large kitchen knife.
A year earlier, Sotomayor in another dissent called out her fellow justices for a “disturbing trend” of favoring police. “We have not hesitated to summarily reverse courts for wrongly denying officers the protection of qualified immunity,” Sotomayor wrote, citing several recent rulings. “But we rarely intervene where courts wrongly afford officers the benefit of qualified immunity.”
The main challenge for plaintiffs in excessive force cases is to show that police behavior violated a “clearly established” precedent. The Supreme Court has continually reinforced a narrow definition of “clearly established,” requiring lower courts to accept as precedent only cases that have detailed circumstances very similar to the case they are weighing.
In February, the federal appeals court in Cincinnati, Ohio, granted immunity to an officer who shot and wounded a 14-year-old boy in the shoulder after the boy dropped a BB gun and raised his hands. The court rejected as a precedent a 2011 case in which an officer shot and killed a man as he began lowering a shotgun. The difference between the incidents was too great, the court determined, because the boy had first drawn the BB gun from his waistband before dropping it.
In other recent cases, courts have sided with police because of the difference between subduing a woman for walking away from an officer, and subduing a woman for refusing to end a phone call; between shooting at a dog and instead hitting a child, and shooting at a truck and hitting a passenger; and between unleashing a police dog to bite a motionless suspect in a bushy ravine, and unleashing a police dog to bite a compliant suspect in a canal in the woods.
The Supreme Court in 2009 raised the bar even higher for plaintiffs to overcome qualified immunity. In Pearson v. Callahan, it gave judges the option to simply ignore the question of whether a cop used excessive force and instead focus solely on whether the conduct was clearly established as unlawful.
By allowing judges to consider only the question of clearly established law in excessive force cases, the Supreme Court created a closed loop in which “the case law gets frozen,” said lawyer Matt Farmer, who represented Lewis’s family.
I am not sure I know of situations where the odds are stacked against citizens more. Citizens, in general, do not possess weapons or resources to self-defend against authority which, ironically, is supposed to protect citizens in the first place. In cases where abuse of power is apparent, the laws, as you already see, are not on citizens’ side, either. It’s obviously a disturbing phenomenon to witness. One must wonder whether this qualified immunity and the Supreme Court’s tendency to rule in favor of the police contributes to the abuse of power and excessive use of force.
Vote. Vote. Vote. On every level.
Former President Obama penned a thoughtful blog post detailing his opinion on how the country can move forward from the current crisis. You can read it here
Second, I’ve heard some suggest that the recurrent problem of racial bias in our criminal justice system proves that only protests and direct action can bring about change, and that voting and participation in electoral politics is a waste of time. I couldn’t disagree more. The point of protest is to raise public awareness, to put a spotlight on injustice, and to make the powers that be uncomfortable; in fact, throughout American history, it’s often only been in response to protests and civil disobediencethat the political system has even paid attention to marginalized communities. But eventually, aspirations have to be translated into specific laws and institutional practices— and in a democracy, that only happens when we elect government officials who are responsive to our demands.
Unfortunately, voter turnout in these local races is usually pitifully low, especially among young people — which makes no sense given the direct impact these offices have on social justice issues, not to mention the fact that who wins and who loses those seats is often determined by just a few thousand, or even a few hundred, votes.
So the bottom line is this: if we want to bring about real change, then the choice isn’t between protest and politics. We have to do both. We have to mobilize to raise awareness, and we have to organize and cast our ballots to make sure that we elect candidates who will act on reform.
Finally, the more specific we can make demands for criminal justice and police reform, the harder it will be for elected officials to just offer lip service to the cause and then fall back into business as usual once protests have gone away.
The former President said it better than I think I can. So, vote whenever you can because our life depends on your votes a lot. It’s the most powerful weapon you can have in a democracy. What I really hate is that some folks relinquish their voting duty because their “guy or gal” isn’t a candidate or there is only one or two issues that they disagree with their candidate.
Vote for democracy, not partisanship
A study published on Cambridge Press examined whether Americans were willing to trade democracy for partisanship in voting.
…in states and districts where one party enjoys a significant electoral advantage, politicians from the majority party may be effectively insulated from an electoral punishment for violating democratic principles. To get a sense of the real-world relevance of this implication, consider that in 2016 only 5.1% of US House districts were won by a margin of less than 6.9%—the smallest margin that Table 4 implies is necessary for violations of democratic principles to be electorally self-defeating. That share of districts was still only 15.2% in 2018. Put bluntly, our estimates suggest that in the vast majority of U.S. House districts, a majority-party candidate could openly violate one of the democratic principles we examined and nonetheless get away with it.
Our analysis of a candidate-choice experiment as well as a natural experiment consistently found that only a small fraction of Americans prioritize democratic principles in their electoral choices when doing so goes against their partisan identification or favorite policies. We proposed that this is the consequence of two mechanisms: (i) voters are willing to trade off democratic principles for partisan ends and (ii) voters employ a partisan “double standard” when punishing candidates who violate democratic principles. These tendencies were exacerbated by several types of polarization, including intense partisanship, extreme policy preferences, and divergence in candidate platforms. Put simply, polarization undermines the public’s ability to serve as a democratic check.
We conclude by discussing the implications of these findings for our understanding of democratic stability in the United States and the rest of the world. We saw that roughly 10–13% of our respondents—depending on the type of contests considered—value democracy enough to punish otherwise favored candidates for violating democratic principles by voting against them
What does that mean? In my opinion, if voters were more willing to cross the partisanship line and vote for a person of a different party, it means that the partisanship and the divide within the country would be less severe. Lawmakers would be forced to be more accountable and to offer bipartisan legislations. The world is too diverse and lively for any of us to stubbornly stick to a rigid ideology. If one party is too egregious and the other party’s candidate shares more values with you, you should vote on shared human values, not partisan ideologies or “stick it to somebody else”.
Do you even remember how this week began? Do you remember that we are still in the middle of a deadly pandemic that killed more than 100,000 people in America?
What has happened in the last few days is scary, infuriating and sad. It blurred that happened before earlier this week or almost many events that occurred. A black man was arrested by four police officers in Minnesota and brutally killed after one officer put his knee on the victim’s throat for a few minutes. The offender, ironically a police officer in this case, continued his act even after George Floyd repeatedly pled for air. He died at a hospital shortly after. The whole episode was filmed by a few folks that happened to be at the scene and were kind and brave enough to ask the four policemen to stop. It sparked anger and riots across the country that called for justice for the victim. Violence took place. Destruction of properties happened. Police intervened. Politicians voiced opinions and of course, the President poured gas on the fire with his controversial tweets. The whole country is in chaos and suddenly, arguably the worst pandemic ever seems to take a back seat in people’s mind.
As I have been following coverage on this tragedy and the aftermath, I feel sad, angry, scared and worried about what comes next for America. The country is increasingly deep into chaos. The problems that America faces seem impossible to overcome. Let’s go over a few
The government is in disarray. The two parties are more willing to win at all cost than to do what’s best for the country. The current administration rolled back a lot of regulations that the previous one put in place. The next administration, if from the opposite party, will install back what was removed. The cylce may continue on
There is no longer a uniting, calm and compassionate leadership at the helm. Whenever the current leader gets involved in an issue, things tend to take a turn for worse
The trust in authorities is seriously eroded. Scandals, misinformation, corruption, cover-up, violence, ineffective policies, unkept promises
Courts seem to be politicized
Racism is still alive and well in America. What happened with George Floyd is just one of a few that were caught on camera. It’s 2020 and we still are having to deal with this
High unemployment rate amid a pandemic that doesn’t seem to end soon
Those are just a few significant challenges that US faces. Can you imagine even with the new leadership and Congress things will change? Can you imagine the divisiveness that we have right now will be lessened with a new administration? Can you imagine racism will go away when it hasn’t after decades? Can you imagine the trust in authorities will be regained soon?
What’s next for America? I think about this a lot because this is where I intended to reside for a while in the future. While China is still growing as an economy and a global power with a less democratic yet effective and stable leadership, America has too many structural challenges to deal with. Do a quick research and you can see America’s standing in the world also slipped over the past 3 years. The anti-immigrant policies make America less attractive to foreign talents. A couple of my friends who wanted to do PhD in the US already ruled out coming here. Personally, I wouldn’t recommend anyone to study here any more.
Perhaps, I am being pessimistic. But if right in the middle of the worst pandemic the social and political issues can dominate everyone’s mind, and we know that given enough time (a few weeks) there will be a bigger scandal, what’s the future looking like for the country? I hope I am wrong, but I don’t see too bright a near future
A word on the fight between the President and social media
It started when the President sent out a tweet about mail-in ballots. Twitter put a note below the tweet to suggest other content to fact-check what the President put out there. Trump took issues with it.
He then sent out a tweet on the debacle in Minnesota with language that seemed to call for violence. Twitter warned users of the content, but didn’t take down the tweet (see below)
Trump, his fanbase and allies accuse the company of violating First Amendment Right and censoring him. He was supported by Mark Zuckerberg, who disagreed with Twitter’s approach. Trump signed an Executive Order to curb protection for platforms like Twitter.
Now, I won’t get into the debate whether First Amendment Right is infringed here. I do want to talk a bit about the fine line social platforms are walking now. Platforms like Facebook and Twitter want to do both:
Enable expression and access to information, including what politicians say
Promote an impression that they are a safe place for users and that they contribute positively to the world
The challenge is difficult, but it’s not impossible. It becomes much more difficult when bad actors want to distribute misinformation for their agenda. Leaving misinformation intact is detrimental to our society; which contradicts one of the two things platforms want to do. Censoring misinformation will cause outcry over infringement of First Amendment Right and contradict the other. As bad actors want to take advantage of social media to aid their propaganda, the disregard for truth intensifies. Platforms like Twitter are stuck in a dilemma between censoring harmful or false content and abiding by free speech and expression.
In the case of Twitter, they are doing the best they can. They didn’t take down the President’s tweets despite repeated requests from many other users. They did put a label on two of his most egregious tweets recently. But that’s not enough, from both sides. Concerned users want a complete removal of some of Trump’s tweets while Trump is using his popularity and power to arm-twist the company not to.
When the two sides cannot compromise, platforms like Twitter, as some sort of a middleman, will soon have to pick a side. Eventually. The walking-a-fine-thin-line will likely not work for much longer.
I noted this book shortly before it was released as someone I followed on Twitter recommended it. I forgot about it until someone brought it up again on Twitter, saying that if you haven’t read the book, you don’t live the 21st century. Ok, what a big endorsement! So I picked the book up and started reading. Oh boy, what a disappointment.
The author briefly discussed the past before going into details the state of a few countries such as China, Japan, France, Germany, etc…After each chapter for each country, he has a summary in the form of a report card that includes his position on each country on Borders, Resources, Demography, Military Might, Economy and Outlook. The introduction part is fine. My issues with the book started in the first chapter.
Overstating America’s involvement in WWII
“During the Imperial Age, the Europeans had been at each other’s throats” Peace among them had been possible only because of American involvement in World War II, American financial support in the postwar rebuilding effort, American strategic overwatch during the Cold War, and the de facto American subsidization of their economies since 1945 via the Order. Without the Americans, there could not be a European Union, much less a euro. And to thank the Americans, the Europeans decided to launch a common currency expressly designed to chip away at American preeminence in global trade and finance.
Excerpt From: Peter Zeihan. “Disunited Nations.” Apple Books.
While the US did contribute to the defeat of the Nazis in World War II, the claim that America was the sole deciding factor in World War II is a bit too much. The US didn’t get involved until the late stage of the war. More importantly, thousands of Europeans and Soviet Union citizens died to keep the Nazis at bay before defeating them. The condescending tone in the last sentence is cringe-worthy. It is at best debatable and likely incorrect. Not everything that everybody does is about the US.
On America’s role in “bailing out” Europe
The rise of the euro complicated European-American relations, particularly when the Europeans came to Washington hat in hand for help in dealing with the European Financial Crisis, a crisis that would have not been nearly as severe if not for the euro’s creation.
The problem I have with this is that the financial crisis started from the US and rippled throughout the world. Additionally, there is no substantiating evidence to back up the claim that EU crawled out of the crisis hole solely by virtue of the US.
On America’s military might over China
Any Chinese expansion that would replace (much less overturn) the American position doesn’t simply begin after a long American head start, but must overcome an American naval global footprint that would take over a century to establish through force of arms—a footprint that is not replicable without complete victory in a world-spanning war that somehow manages to leave the Chinese mainland untouched. This is meant less as a slam against the Chinese as it is a recognition of global naval realities. After all, aside from the Americans, no one floats even a single fully functional supercarrier, much less a supercarrier battle group, much less a global naval force.
Beyond carriers, China is indeed floating an impressive number of missile frigates and destroyers that combine reach and lethality, but what the Chinese fleet lacks is operational range. Of China’s three hundred–plus naval vessels, only one-ninth of them are major surface combatants that can operate over a thousand miles from shore (a little less than the distance from Shanghai to Tokyo) under ideal circumstances—ideal, as in no one shooting at them.
Excerpt From: Peter Zeihan. “Disunited Nations.” Apple Books.
The author made his claims about how the US is still superior to China in terms of military. However, if you read the book: The Kill Chain, which I reviewed here and which was written by the top advisor of John McCain, the then-chair of the Armed Services Committee in the Senate, the picture cannot be more different. The author of the Kill Chain obviously knows what he was talking about as he was on the inside and he insisted that the US is going to be, if not already, behind China and time is running out. If I have to choose between Peter Zeihan and the guy who had access to classified military documents at the highest level in the government, I’ll pick the latter any day of the week. Here is what Christian Brose said, sorry for the long excerpts which, unfortunately, are necessary to make my point
“Cyberattacks would grind down the logistical movement of US forces into combat. The defenseless cargo ships and aircraft that would ferry much of that force across the Pacific would be attacked every step of the way. Satellites on which US forces depend for intelligence, communications, and global positioning would be blinded by lasers, shut down by high-energy jammers, or shot out of orbit altogether by antisatellite missiles. The command and control networks that manage the flow of critical information to US forces in combat would be broken apart and shattered by electronic attacks, cyberattacks, and missiles. Many US forces would be rendered deaf, dumb, and blind.”
“While these attacks were under way, America’s forward bases in places like Japan and Guam would be inundated with waves of precise ballistic and cruise missiles. The few defenses those bases have would quickly be overwhelmed by the sheer volume of weapons coming at them, with many leaking through. Those bases would have no defense against China’s hypersonic weapons, which can maneuver unpredictably, fly at five times the speed of sound, and strike their targets within minutes of being launched. As all of these missiles slammed into US bases, they would destroy fighter jets and other aircraft on the ground before US pilots could even get them airborne. They would crater runways, blow up operations centers and fuel storage tanks, and render those US forward bases inoperable. If any aircraft did manage to escape the Chinese missiles, it would be forced to relocate to another base in the region, which itself would come under attack. It would look like a US evacuation.”
“A similar dynamic would play out with America’s sea bases. Once the war started, US aircraft carriers in the region would immediately turn east and sail away from China, intent on getting more than a thousand miles away from the opponent’s long-range anti-ship missiles. But from that far away, none of the aircraft on the flight deck would be capable of reaching their targets without aerial refueling, so the Navy would find itself on the horns of the same dilemma the Air Force faced: its stealthy fighter jets would be pushed so far back that they could only get to their targets with the help of non-stealthy, defenseless refueling aircraft that would be shot down in large numbers.”
That assessment was echoed by a bipartisan commission of military experts that McCain had established through legislation that year to provide an independent examination of US defense strategy. They rendered their judgment to Congress shortly after McCain’s death in 2018. “America’s military superiority… has eroded to a dangerous degree,” they wrote. “The U.S. military could suffer unacceptably high casualties and loss of major capital assets in its next conflict. It might struggle to win, or perhaps lose, a war against China or Russia.”
Excerpt From: Christian Brose. “The Kill Chain.” Apple Books.
On America making all strategic decisions for Europe!???
The only way the Europeans have ever discovered to prevent this never-ending cycle of wars is to change the game. To bring in an external security guarantor who forces everyone to be on the same side. Who makes all major strategic decisions for everyone. Who enables access to raw materials without needing to resort to war. Who allows for the mass export of Germany’s always destabilizing volumes of manufactured goods to somewhere beyond Europe. That’s the United States. That’s the Order.
False claim on Germany’s electricity source
Germany receives less than 10 percent of its electricity needs from green power.
One quick check on Google can prove that this is false
Overly optimistic view of the US
“OUTLOOK: The Americans excel at missing opportunities due to domestic squabbling, but there is nothing in what’s left of the international system that will threaten the American heartland either militarily or economically before 2050.”
This is the theme throughout the book. Peter Zeihan is overly optimistic and borderline delusional about the US’ outlook. It is still the richest country on Earth, but claiming that the country faces no military or economic threats before 2050 is simply wrong. China is projected to overtake the US economically in the near future. It is now the second biggest economy in the world and the gap is closing. As mentioned above, China’s military IS already a threat to the US. and it’s not me that said so. It’s the people who served at the highest level of the government that did.
I jumped into this book with excitement and curiosity which were quickly evaporated by bold yet unsubstantiated claims, omission of human factors, delusional outlook on the US, false statements and the condescending tone towards others. This book is music to the ears of the folks who claim that despite what is going on in the country, the US is still the greatest in the world. To others who are more pragmatic, especially those with international exposure like me, it is less so. To be fair, the world needs America, but as much as America needs the world. Despite all the advances and great things that this country produces, it faces monumental threats such as eroding global standing among allies, rising income inequality, outdated infrastructure, a dysfunctional government, voter suppression, corruption, bitter and severe divide in America’s society, healthcare, etc…
Not everyone who points out America’s shortcomings has malicious intent. Many, myself included, are forthcoming and honest about what America can do better because we want the country to improve and to be better. I’d not be here if I didn’t like America. I do love it less now, but it doesn’t mean I want it to fail. I want to see it succeed and to do so, I prefer folks saying “Look, America has problems, but we can fix them and be better” to “To hell with all problems, America is still the greatest”. Since this book is blindly and condescendingly pro America, it may as well be labeled that way.
To be fair, the book has some good thought-provoking bits, but they are not worth the time spent on 300 pages and the frustration I detailed above. Long post short, I would NOT recommend this book.
Over the recent weeks, there have been disturbing reports on the protests across the country against stay-at-home order. In some cases, the terrifying scenes of a group of protesters carrying guns to local governments’ buildings or signs that stand for the worst of human hatred as below.
Those that are involved in the protests argue that the government has no business in restricting their personal freedom to go out and work. The underlying premise of the protests is that individuals have absolute freedom to do whatever they are pleased to. Extreme and absolute personal freedom is in the fabric of American life. It’s not that citizens in other countries don’t have freedom, yet here in America, it’s something that is almost sacred, non-negotiable and in some cases, regardless of what is the cost. I don’t dispute the merit of individual freedom. Coming from a country like Vietnam, I value a lot the ability to say and do things in America that wouldn’t be possible in my own hometown. Individual freedom is a great power given to us. However, like Spiderman’s Uncle Ben says, “with great power comes great responsibility”. Is this great power being exercised responsibly? I really don’t think that is the case.
I don’t believe that any politician wants to extend a lockdown more than he or she has to. After all, if you listen to every politician, they all want to sell you on “jobs, jobs, good paying jobs”. As a result, an existing or extended lockdown is put in place because they fear that an early reopen of the economy could bring the virus back into play and force us all to go back to square one. Singapore had been very confident in their ability to handle the pandemic. Fast forward to several weeks later, they now have the most confirmed cases in the area. Germany recently allowed football clubs to go back to training. Shortly after, Koln, a German club, reported three new cases. It’s entirely possible that scenario could happen to any US state. In fact, we have a case study. Several citizens in Wisconsin got infected after they went to vote in person because the Supreme Court kinda forced them to. If reopen isn’t managed carefully, we may go back to where we were at the end of March again. And that would prolong our march towards the normal life and economy as we knew several months ago.
The protesters have the right to voice their opinion. But instead of a peaceful civilized protest, they carry around guns and signs of hatred messages. Don’t we have the right to feel safe in community? As somebody who has never touched a gun before, I’d feel terrified by someone carrying guns around on the streets. I mean, if they use guns on a hunting ground legally, by all means. I am not bothered by that and I don’t honestly see anything wrong. But living in a community, why would some’s right to feel safe be inferior to others’ right to carry out guns needlessly just to make their point? Don’t some who lost family to Nazi in WWII have the right not to feel the pain from those messages? If protesters get infected by the virus by participating in these protests, would it be responsible to do so, come home and spread it among their family members and community? What do you think about the photo below? (Source: Twitter. I forgot to save the source link)
Admittedly, it’s hard to completely fault somebody for putting food on the table for their family. There have been 30 million unemployment insurance claims in the country and the figure isn’t likely going to stop there. Folks want to work and make ends meet. Even then, it’s our responsibility to consider what consequences our actions may lead to and whom those actions would affect. I’d argue that instead of what they are doing, protesters can feel free to sign online petitions. Call and write civilly to lawmakers to make their point. If a physical protest is necessary, Israel offers a valuable example
Several polls showed that the majority of Americans wanted to continue social distancing and not rush back to work. Hence, I am not sure an extreme irresponsible protest would change the minds of politicians whose interest is in listening to the majority of voters. Instead of disturbing and putting others in danger in the process, protesters may consider exercising their great power a little bit more responsibly.
Let’s play a little game. I have two unnamed countries and one of them is often labeled “a third-world country”. Country A has almost 600,000 confirmed cases and more than 23,000 deaths from Covid-19 as of now, and charges its citizens a significant sum to have tests and treatments. Meanwhile, country B has less than 300 cases and, thankfully, zero fatalities so far, yet provides FREE Covid-19 tests and treatments. Which one is the 3rd-world country?
Another clue is that in country A, there was almost, on average, one mass shooting a day last year while, in country B, the number of deaths from guns is minimal. In country A, children have to practice drills for shootings while that concept is foreign to children and parents in country B.
In my examples above, country A is the US and Vietnam is the other one. Yes, I did cherry-pick some aspects to make a point, but that’s THE point. I often hear politicians and citizens in the US use “third-world countries” and call out names like my country’s to talk about major existing issues here, usually ending with: we are not a third-world country. Frankly speaking, Vietnam has an endless list of problems, but we are aware of that fact and we own them. On the other hand, in the US, some media outlets, some politicians and many folks still don’t acknowledge that there are serious flaws in the current systems. They still make claims such as this: we are still the greatest country on Earth. Well, on what grounds though? Each country can cherry-pick some metrics to make a claim for themselves and it will be perfectly legit.
By no means am I implying that the US is a 3rd-world country, in any shape or form. My first point is that the term carries a condescending tone towards other countries and shouldn’t be used, especially in the context of discussing your own (often neglected at worst and under-addressed at best) issues. The second point is that we all know without self-awareness of our own issues, we, as individuals, won’t make progress or self-improvement. Why would it be different for countries? Is it even remotely possible that problems that have existed in this country for decades still exist because of a belief that no matter what happens, the US is still the greatest on Earth?
There are a lot of great things around here. My admiration for the US, not as strong as it used to be, is still there. I appreciate what it has given me. As a result, I hope that things will change in a more positive way in the future, that there will be less denigrating attitude towards other less developed countries and that people here, in the words of Sansa Stark in Game of Thrones, “look the truth in the face”.