Saturday, August 30, 2008

Alright, but how does it affect me?

[evil self-interested guy]

As a subject of Constitutional Monarch Elizabeth Windsor, I don't really have any right to comment on who the citizens of the USA decide to choose to be their Supreme Overlord.

However I am entitled to ask "how does it affect me?"

As for individual Americans Barack Obama is the correct choice, in terms of healthcare, education, and general niceness, but obviously that is entirely irrelevant to me. Let the rednecks enjoy their quadrennial bend-over fest once again and let them keep their damned assault rifles. Psshft.

[/evil self-interested guy]

My compassion for all people is severely tested by George W Bush, and the idea that John McCain might be a good choice of President for the USA. Whatever.

[evil self-interested guy]

The only real way that US foreign policy has directly impinged on my own life is through the Iraq War, and namely the fact that I (or rather a bunch of my associates) will have to pay for a part of it as British tax payers. Also some soldiers probably got killed and the whole business has has the whole world crackin' wise about our mommas.

I suspect, however, that the experience of Iraq, Afghanistan and the whole land-war-in-Asia bit will deter most British politicos from similar adventures over the next few years, and as such even if John "Armageddon" McCain became Prez it would be unlikely I'd find myself paying for another war.

There's also this tiresome business with Russia, Georgia and some godforsaken miserable hole called South Ossetia. I don't much care for the whole damned situation. Our Foreign Secretary has been mouthing off about it in this unintentionally hilarious article in The Guardian:

Ukraine is a leading example of the benefits that accrue when a country takes charge of its own destiny, and seeks alliances with other countries.

So, if South Ossetia decides it wants to take charge of its own destiny and seeks an alliance with Russia that's OK? What is Miliband trying to say here?

Russia is fucked in the long run. Losing 700, 000 people a year to demographic change is the kind of thing you can't ignore, let alone cause you to collapse into nationalistic paranoia, from a BBC Article:

The seriousness of this [demographic] problem has led to an urgent, polarised and often angry debate in Russia about ways to tackle the problem.

Many medical specialists berate the government's apparent inaction over the country's health crisis. It is estimated that a third of Russian men abuse alcohol, while smoking rates are among the highest in the world. New threats, such as the rapid spread of HIV/Aids, merely compound an already bad situation, they say.

Politicians on the nationalist wing of the political spectrum see the hand of the West, and of Russia's "enemies" more widely, in the population decline.

Being briefly buoyed by oil 'n' gas revenues does not excuse completely ignoring the long-term prospects of your people. From Charles Grant in The Guardian:
Russia's Achilles heel is its economy. This has been growing fast, at over 7% a year. Wealth has spread out from the energy companies and the government, helping to create a prosperous middle class. But the economy remains dangerously dependent on energy and raw materials. Russia has very few high-tech industries, its record on innovation is appalling, it has too few small and medium-sized companies and its service industries are backward.
South Ossetia has a population of 70, 000 people! That's one-tenth of the number of people Russia needs to conquer every year to make up its population numbers!

If and when the governments of Eastern Europe and Britain get our act together and roll out our massive nuclear-reactor/clean-coal-plant building programme the whole question of energy security, global warming, and peak oil will sort itself out.

Let the Americans choose whoever they want.

[/evil self-interested guy]

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