Newsletter for November 11, 2011
Friends,Last month Washington announced it would no longer be funding UNESCO, the arm of the United Nations most immediately responsible for promoting literacy, racial equality, science, and press freedom around the world. The decision was the fulfillment of a twenty-year-old threat which the Washington legislature codified in U.S. law in 1990. The law states that no organization will receive funding if it acknowledges Palestine as a state.
Despite explicit warnings from Hilary Clinton UNESCO went ahead with a vote late last month making Palestine the 195th full member . The final vote was 107 to 14 with 52 abstentions, a result that cost the organization about 1/4 of its operating budget. On Tuesday Irina Bokova, director-general of UNESCO, announced that its deficit has forced them to cancel all projects and commitments until the end of the year. She says she hopes that by eliminating staff travel, publication, and other expenditures UNESCO will be able to save $35 million and postpone full financial collapse.
For more information on this story see the following:
Palestinians to Pursue UNESCO Bid Despite Political Pressure, Haaretz
US Warns UNESCO To Stay out of Palestine Debate, Bloomberg
UNESCO Approves Full Membership for Palestinians, New York Times
UNESCO Suspends New Programs After U.S. Funding Cut, Reuters
Meanwhile Washington's major foreign policy think tank, the Council on Foreign Relations, is calling for a military strike on Iranian nuclear facilities. In an essay from the current Foreign Affairs, co-authors Eric Edelman, Andrew Krepenevich, and Evan Montgomery write the following:
For example, the Obama administration should not discount the possibility of an Israeli- Iranian nuclear conflict. From the very start, the nuclear balance between these two antagonists would be unstable. Because of the significant disparity in the sizes of their respective arsenals (Iran would have a handful of warheads compared to Israel's estimated 100-200), both sides would have huge incentives to strike first in the event of a crisis. Israel would likely believe that it had only a short period during which it could launch a nuclear attack that would wipe out most, if not all, of Iran's weapons and much of its nuclear infrastructure without Tehran being able to retaliate. For its part, Iran might decide to use its arsenal before Israel could destroy it with a preemptive attack. The absence of early warning systems on both sides and the extremely short flight time for ballistic missiles heading from one country to the other would only heighten the danger. Decision-makers would be under tremendous pressure to act quickly.
This renaissance of Cold War paranoia is the result of a recent report from the International Atomic Energy Agency. The report repackaged a lot of information that Washington intelligence already knew, and it failed to show any conclusive evidence that Iran is involved in a full-scale nuclear weapons program, and Iran indeed lacks the capacity to enrich uranium to weapons-grade. It did present new evidence that Iran has been experimenting with heavy explosives which could be used for nuclear weaponry, but Iran says the evidence has been manufactured by Washington and its allies.
It seems that no credible voice in Washington considers the possible relevance of Israel's stockpile of nuclear warheads which are pointed toward Tehran. Washington and Jerusalem compliance with the Non- Proliferation Treaty is off the table as always, and President Obama continues his $4 billion program to enhance Washington's nuclear capabilities in Eastern Europe.For more information on this story see the following:
Why Obama Should Take Out Iran's Nuclear Program, Foreign Affairs
IAEA Report on Iran's Nuclear Programme, Guardian
Republican Candidates Talk Tough on Iran, New York Times
It's Not Too Late to Peacefully Keep Iran from a Bomb, The Atlantic
World Nuclear Weapons StatusFederation of American Scientists
Nuclear Bomb Overhaul May Counter Obama Pledge, Anger Russia, Bloomberg
This site is my attempt to put what is in my head on the web in a nice, neat format that will be of use to myself and potentially to others. I chose HTML originally because of its logical structure, particularly concerning lists, and its ability to cross-reference pieces of information far more simply than paper and pen allow. I consider this my online journal. It is part blog, part scrapbook, part reference desk, etc.
Right now it looks pretty bare-bones, and I am sure it will continue to look this way for a while. I want it to be this way. I had been using Wordpress for a while to host Flucking.info, but it was not my style. I felt like I was trying to present an image of something that I was not--the illusion that I know more than I do. Slick web design is supposed to give that impression, but it is all a lie. Nobody knows half as much as we are led to believe.
I am not a great writer, so get used to that. I am not especially gifted in my ability to discern information, understand complex arguments, or construct narratives. If I excell in any one area it is in my dedication to improving my mind and morality through earnest reflection and constant exposure to new facts and ideas.
That's about it. What you see below is my first steps toward creating this new site. In the future I intend to use PHP with MySQL to turn the lists into a navigation menu, but content has to come first. I already know about a lot of things (I was a history major in college), so my first task is to get what is in my head onto the website and annotate it with hyperlinks and so forth. Then I will have to include sections for current events and whatnot. All this will take time.
Why then am I putting the site online before it's ready? Well, why the hell not?