Category Archives: People

Part II-War, National Interest, and Iraq

Last week I wrote about the first part of the following quote.  In the piece, I discussed reasons we went to War in Iraq, why we are still there, so on and so forth.  It came to my attention that it was really long and so with Part II today, I will attempt to keep it considerably shorter.  Now let’s address the 2nd sentence of the comment below. 

I guess my problem is I can’t honestly justify attacking a country for its oil when there are so many worse countries and regimes around the world. The situation in Darfur is much worse than it ever was in Iraq, and we don’t do something about it why?

There are two ways to address this sentence about Darfur and that is to discuss why we don’t get involved in Darfur due to interests (or lack thereof) and also to address the utter hypocricy by those who use this as a counter argument for Iraq.

First, let’s answer the question.  The hard and cold truth is we aren’t going into Sudan militarily because we have no interests there and because Sudan poses no threat to the outside world.  If you think that justifying war in Iraq was difficult, wait until you have to justify war in Sudan.  The reality, as cold and sad as it may be, is that Iraq and the Middle-East is of great interest and value to us and to the civilized world.  First and foremost they provide the world’s energy needs.  That is the only reason we have any relationship of a significant value with that part of the world.  If they didn’t have oil or natural gas we would treat and view them no differently than we do Mali or Chad. 

Today, admitting the fact that oil is a national interest and adding that it should be draws the gasp of millions people.  But why shouldn’t it be, we need it, the world needs it, and the middle-east has it.  But, people say, we are exploiting those people and making their lives worse. B.S., they and their governments are what determines whether or not their lives suck; how that money is used and spent is entirely up to them. I don’t see the UAEers or Kuwaitis complaining.  But I digress.

I completely understand the desire some have for more action in Darfur.  I have a great fascination for Africa, it is my favorite region to study.  I wish so much that we had the means and justification to use force to end genocide and ethnic cleansing. I remember studying the Rwanda genocide and then watching Hotel Rwanda and just being so disgusted with the actions of the western World and the inaction of the UN.   As I pondered those things, I realized the catch-22 the United States is in.  On the one hand, we are the world’s most powerful and prosperous nation.  Our people enjoy immense freedom and partake of democracy, don’t we have an obligation to help and defend those who can’t help and defend themselves?  I wish the answer were ‘yes’ and in a perfect world, we would do so.  But unfortunately, we just can’t do it.  First, if we did start getting involved militarily, where does it end?  Are we going to attack Sudan, then Uganda, Nigeria, Somalia, Eritrea, Myanmar, Zimbabwe, etc?  We would be involved everywhere and undoubtedly, both sides of the conflict would wish we would go home.

Second, we have limited resources, just because we have the largest military in the world, doesn’t mean we have the ability to fight multiple wars on multiple fronts.  Third, the entire world would be outraged and we would have no support.  We can’t force democracy through the barrell of a gun, no matter how much we may want to.  The sad reality is that there is only so much we have the ability to do and only so much we can legally do. 

This brings me to the hypocricy of those that make comments like this.  There are two hypocricies herein.  First, they imply the argument that that we should leave Iraq to go stop a genocide in Africa, they try to come across as so compassionate and caring about human rights, yet they they either fail to realize or blatantly ignore the fact that if we leave Iraq too soon, we would inevitably have a human rights crisis created in Iraq.  All of these people who say we need to get out of Iraq also claim to care about freedom and human life, yet are ok with us pulling out to make a political point and indicting Bush, all the while creating a major humanitarian crisis.  Fixing one humanitarian crisis while creating another one does not sound like a productive move to me.

The second hypocricy is that people who make comments like this want us to think they would actually support military action in Sudan.  This is utterly ridiculous.  These people will yell and scream for us to leave Iraq and say that we should be helping in Sudan, if we actually did it and sent our military in there, they would call us murderers, empirialists, etc.   Straight hypocricy. 

Finally, as I said earlier I have great affinity for Africa.  What is occurring in Sudan and other parts of that continent break my heart and is very sad.  The U.S. does need to do more, but we also need to do more smartly.  Throwing money at it won’t help.   I personally believe that this should be a EU and UN matter.  It was European countries who colonized that continent and they have a significant amount of blame on their shoulders.  The UN needs to allow their peacekeeping forces to use force when necessary, just minor force.  Peacekeepers are worthless if they can’t do anything to keep the peace.  We also need to put much more pressure on the African Union.  Most of the responsibility falls on the backs of those people and countries who surround Sudan. 

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Filed under Africa, Bush, Conservative, Democracy, Election 2008, Genocide, Iraq, Liberal, Liberalism, Military, People, Politics, Progress, Progressive, Race, Republicans

LDS Church Leader Urges Caution on Immigration

It appears that the LDS Church is slowly unveiling its position on Illegal Immigration and it appears to somewhat break from the common GOP consensus.  Which consensus, I should explain, is also firmer than mine.  It seems that most GOPers (especially the average voter) is pretty hardcore in their view of illegal immigration; generally they feel that ALL illegal immigrants should be deported, often without consideration of extenuating circumstances. 

Those of you who have been reading my blog for a long time now, may remember that I broke with this common view in a piece I wrote last year.   Basically, I think deporting 12 million people is utterly ridiculous, it is an economic and logistical nightmare.  Additionally, we need to consider the impact such a move (deportation) would have on families, especially children born in the U.S. who are now citizens.

Yesterday, LDS Church historian and seventy, Marlin K. Jensen, urged that Utah’s legislature (practically all Mormon) “slow down, step back and carefully study and assess the implications and human costs involved” when confronting the issue of illegal immigration.  He added that such decisions have “significant consequences, (and) I believe a more thoughtful . . . not to mention humane, approach is warranted.” 

I couldn’t agree more.  We need to consider the human implication. 

It is important to point out that Elder Jensen is not advocating one way or another any specific legislation or even point of view regarding illegal immigration.  He is simply urging reflection and serious, realistic contemplation on the impact of various possibilities.  This is a wise course of action. 

I fear that people are so embroiled with emotion regarding this issue, that is clouds sound judgement and realistic/pragmatic thought.   Many right wingers, especially, are verging on pure racism and starting to even allow their hatred for illegal immigration with criticism of all immigration.   This is a dangerous trend.

The best antidote for such irrational movement is simply to take a deep breath, pull back from the problem, and move cautiously; all the while utilizing deliberate and realistic thought and analysis.

For the Church it will be interesting to see what kind of response is received.  There are going to be huge swaths of LDS members, especially throughout AZ, CA, and the rest of the Southwest that are going to be annoyed at best by this, others will likely be outraged.   But I urge all of you who may be upset by this move to remember the role of religion.  Religions in general (should) focus on individuals, not governments.  Thus, the LDS Church is concerned about the impact such legislation will have on individuals, and this includes illegal immigrants, legal immigrants, even all U.S. citizens.   Rational and pragmatic thought, even stepping away from the issue to get an overall view, is nearly always the wisest course.  When we move to fast and are swayed by the emotional upswell of public opinion we more often than not make poor decisions that have more dire effects in the long run.

UPDATE: Further down in the SL Trib article I read the following bit and think it is essential to add to this piece.: “Jensen noted that immigration was not strictly a political issue but a moral and ethical one. And as such, he said, he was not simply speaking for himself or even for the Quorum, a group of Mormon leaders who act as church emissaries. ‘I was assigned to come here by the First Presidency of the Church.’

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Filed under Christian, Christianity, Election 2008, Illegal immigration, Immigration, LDS, Mormon, Mormonism, People, Politics, Race, Religion, Republicans

Africa’s Vicious Cycle Continues

There is something inherently wrong with Africa.  It seems that no matter how much a country in Africa, specifically sub-Saharan Africa,  progresses at some point it all falls apart and returns to what Africa is apparently used to being: a land of chaos.  I suppose there is a reason it is called the “Dark Continent” and it has nothing to do with the color of the skin of a majority of the people. 

I have a great fascination with Africa and in terms of political/social desires, there is nothing that I would rather see than a generally stable and prosperous Africa.  What a sight that would be to behold.  A continent so ripe with conflict and war, being able to rise above it and enter into the developed world while providing relative peace and prosperity for even the poorest of people. 

In the 80s and 90s it appeared that there was a shift towards this vision.  While many countries continued to reside in hell (Somalia, Sudan, Rwanda), many were stablizing and becoming prosperous.  However, today many of those same countries are or look as if they are regressing and being trapped by the grasp of ethnic strife and war once again or, at least, are in the grip or totalitarian leaders who are destroying their country.

There are three countries that come to mind that have fallen into this trap.  In the 80’s and early 90’s the Ivory Coast was often considered Africa’s shining star.  An example of openness and relative prosperity, however today it is embroiled by war and strife.

Even worse, and I would argue the most serious, is Zimbabwe.  Zimbabwe had a burgeoning economy and was Africa’s breadbasket.  They too were among the most prolific examples of African prosperity all while under the same leader they have today, Robert Mugabe.  Yet around 1998 something snapped in Mugabe (or at least that is how it seems to me), perhaps he became paranoid of losing his power, but he instituded terrible economic reforms and has continued to do so since.   As a result, Zimbabwe is arguably the worst country in Africa, or at least the worst country that was somewhat prosperous a decade ago (it is hard to compare Zimbabwe with Somalia, a country that has always been in chaos).   And through all of this, Mugabe and his government refuse to recognize that it was their policies that caused this devastation. 

Perhaps the most disappointing is what is currently going on in Kenya.  Kenya WAS as late as last fall Africa’s proud country.  The one that Africa could show the world the potential they have.  Granted, things have never been as prosperous as the West there, but they were a far sight better than most of the rest of Africa and became the standard bearer of success.  Yet, for some reason, Africa’s nature would not let it be.  Just like with the Ivory Coast and Zimbabwe (and throw Nigeria in there), Africa is pulling Kenya back to what it is apparently supposed to be; Chaotic. 

As a result of a contested and likely corrupt election, huge swaths of minority tribal people are dissatisfied and are partaking in ethnic cleansing of the Kikuyu people.   It is in sharp parallel with the Rwanda genocide in 1994, except that it has not overtaken the whole country.   All is not lost yet in Kenya however, the President can take a nearly unprecedented step for Africa and step up and either resign and call for new elections or bring all sides together and forge a new political and power sharing agreement.  But even this is no guarantee of success. 

What a complete shame and disappointment.  Will there ever be a country in Africa that will be able to rise above the fray and stay there?  I don’t know, but there are reasons for optimism.   Right now, Botswana is doing incredibly well.  They have a stronger economy and higher GDP than even South Africa (last I checked) and have a stable, though relatively totalitarian government.  Their biggest issue is AIDS; an issue that can easily bring down the country. 

Ghana, too, is a strong country with decent leadership, though with it’s own corruption issues.  However, what Africa needs immediately is stability and security, they can deal with corruption later, but stability is essential for international investment, key to fixing Africa. 

So the question now becomes, can Botswana or Ghana continue it’s rapid rise?  Can countries recently embroiled in strife, yet now seemingly out of it and improving, like Liberia and Uganda, continue to hold together it’s fragile stability?  Or will the curse of Africa strike again and tear these down.  My guess is that only one or two of them make it out alive and I would put my money on Botswana and Liberia. 

Africa is a sad yet fascinating place.  One that probably has so much more to offer in terms of U.S. national interest (which it takes for the U.S. to care about truly helping a country) than we realize.  The question is, will any country there stablize enough for us to find out?  Will the tribes put aside their differences for the good of the whole?  I doubt it.  Certainly a small handful of countries can pull it off, but as a whole Africa looks doomed with little hope.  I pray that I am wrong, but this latest failure in Kenya shows that chaos and genocide are only a moment away.

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Filed under Africa, Democracy, Genocide, History, International Affairs, People, Politics, Progress, Religion

My Thoughts on the Life & Death of Mormon Pres. Gordon B. Hinckley

President Gordon B. Hinckley 

Last night the world lost one of the greatest men ever to live on Earth.  LDS Church President and Prophet, Seer, and Revelator Gordon B. Hinckley passed away.  There is no man to have lived in my short lifetime that was a greater exemplar of faith, love, honesty, integrity, and Christ-like living. 

It is difficult to put into words how I feel personally about the man.  I never had the opportunity to meet him or shake his hand.  The closest I got to him was in 1998 when he spoke in Edmonton, Alberta.   I was serving as a missionary at the time in Calgary and our Mission President allowed us all to travel to Edmonton for the occassion.   I can vividly remember the spirit he carried and brought into the conference hall where the meeting occurred.  I cannot remember what specifically President Hinckley spoke about, nevertheless, I know that I was in the presence of a holy man, a man who literally spoke with our Savior, even Jesus Christ. 

President Hinckley was one of the longest serving President’s of the Church in Mormon’s short history.  He oversaw the largest expansion of Church membership and temple growth.  He made the Temple and provident, Christ-like living the cornerstone of his service.  It was during his tenure that the Lord revealed his plan to make Temple ordinances more readily available to members throughout the world with the plan of building smaller temples that could built in areas with smaller LDS population.   This program allowed more members to receive the saving ordinances and perform such work for their kindred dead.  

President Hinckley has been one of the anchors of the LDS faith over the last half-century.  Having been an Apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ since the 1960’s, he has had a major role in every major decision since then.  He also largely ran the Church in the late-70’s and through the 80’s when President’s Kimble and Benson had severe health problems that limited their activities.  What a great and wonderful man, he was a kind and loving person and touched millions upon millions of people’s lives for good.

Now, President Hinckley’s death is only sad for those of us whom will miss him dearly, but it is certainly not sad for him.  Pres. Hinckley has returned to that God whom gave us life and he returned in glory and honor.  I am reminded of the closing remarks of Book of Mormon Prophet Enos, in his final statement he said the following:

 27 And I soon go to the place of my rest, which is with my Redeemer; for I know that in him I shall rest. And I rejoice in the day when my mortal shall put on immortality, and shall stand before him; then shall I see his face with pleasure, and he will say unto me: Come unto me, ye blessed, there is a place prepared for you in the mansions of my Father.

Indeed, President Hinckley is rejoicing and will continue to rejoice.  He will see the Savior’s face with pleasure and will obtain a place in the mansions of our Father.  He has been faithful and dedicated in the service of the Lord and will be saved in his courts on high.

Yet, the greatest reason to not mourn, but to rejoice in the passing of President Hickley is that he is reunited with his beloved wife Marjorie.  What a blessing it is to be sealed with our spouse for time and all eternity, not just “till death do us part.”  He has rejoined his wife in heaven, there to be by her side throughout all eternity; is there any greater blessing that one can imagine that being able to spend eternity with the one that you love. 

I have a great testimony that President Hinckley was indeed a Prophet of God, on the paralell of Abraham, Moses, Isaiah, and Peter of old.  Can one think of a more important time than this in which we now live where the need for a Prophet of God was greater?  The world has changed immensly over the last 200 years, more so than any period in its previous history.  We face new challenges and evils everyday, how can it be that God has abandonded us to our own devices and own wisdom?  The reality is that he has not.  God loves us the same as he has people of old.   He continues to reveal his will, to teach us the way to follow, and how to traverse these perilous times.   What a great blessing it is to live on the earth in a time when the Gospel of Jesus Christ has been restored to the earth,  when the great gathering of Israel is commencing, and when we have Prophets to teach us the mind and will of God. 

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Mitt and Fred Up; Impact on Iowa

Mitt Romney and Fred Thompson were the two obvious winners in the Iowa debate yesterday.  Mitt wins because he had the best answers, was specific, showed Presidential attributes, and differentiated himself from the rest of the competitors.

Fox News Focus Group: Mitt Wins

Fred won because he had solid answers and had the most memorable lines and moments of the debate.  His refusal to raise his hand and not answer the global warming question was priceless.  It will probably help him with the voter too.

Fred’s Memorable Moment:

The rest of the candidates were largely forgettable.   McCain started out well, but as the debate wore on he seemed annoyed or, perhaps, somber.  Every answer showed his age and he talked with a soft and almost reflective manner, that normally wouldn’t bother me, but this is about 4 straight debates he has been like this; it gets old.  Additionally, he has become a one-issue candidate.  What immigration is to Tancredo, Iraq/Vietnam is to McCain.  One issue candidates don’t win.  The one positive, he didn’t say “let me give you some straight talk”.  I hate that.

With the exception of Huckabee, there is not much to say about any other candidate.  Rudy needed a big day to stem his plummeting numbers, but he didn’t.  Alan Keyes and Ron Paul were made for each other, how about a Paul/Keyes run on the Libertarian ticket; that would be hilarious.

Huckabee had the most pressure as the new Iowa front runner.  He folded like a cheap tent.  It wasn’t that he said anything wrong or detrimental, but he wasn’t himself.  I really think that he went into intent on not cracking jokes and limiting his witty statements; I think he wanted to come across as Presidential.  It didn’t work for him. 

What baffled me though, were the “so-called” experts on the MSM (Fox and CNN).  Many of them said that Huck won by default because none of the other candidates challenged him and he had no tough questions.  They argued that his style today won’t be a negative because most people weren’t watching.  I disagree.  While most of America wasn’t watching, Iowans were.  That is most important.  I really think this debate, coupled with the negative news of late will pull Huckabee back to the pack.  The one-night stand is over.

So in the unlikely event that I am right about Huck, what happens in Iowa.  Well I think two things will occur.  First, I think Mitt will get his mojo back and win the state.  Huck will finish a close second.  However, both Mitt and Huck need to check the rear-view mirror for Fred Thompson.  It looks like Iowa is Fred’s Alamo. He is putting all of his effort there and had a successful debate.  We saw how fast Huck caught fire, if Huck quickly flames out that support could quickly switch Fred and put him in the race. 

However, timing is a tough thing.  The Christmas holiday will likely hamper any major movement in the campaigns, leaving just one week to boom.  Additionally, what kind of ground game does Fred have in Iowa?  Not much of one.  Nevertheless, I think this new push will give him a solid 3rd place finish, with Rudy being a distant 4th.

All in all, things are starting to shape up nicely for Mitt.  He has received a bump nationally from “the Speech”, had a great debate, and pulled within 5 points of Huck in the latest Iowa poll.  A lot have said, and I agree, that if Mitt wins Iowa, he will then win New Hampshire in a landslide, and will then win the nomination.  It will be fun to watch, no matter what happens.

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Filed under Conservative, Democracy, Election 2008, Fred Thompson, Iowa, John McCain, Mike Huckabee, Mitt Romney, New Hampshire, People, Politics, Republicans, Romney, Ron Paul, Rudy Giuliani, South Carolina

Colbert 4 President

The big political news of the day is a bomb shell of immense proportions. Stephen Colbert of the Colbert Report is running for President! Well, in South Carolina at least. As South Carolina’s “favorite son,” Stephen has a natural edge and he, “Def(ies) any other candidate to pander more to the people of South Carolina…those beautiful, beautiful people.”

If I weren’t already firmly behind a candidate, Colbert might be my number 1…at least in South Carolina. Here is principled leader who is not afraid to pander and admit it. He is strong and certain, yet will choose to be Democrat or Republican when it is politically expedient. We need more of that in our Government! So I now announce that I am throwing my support behind Stephen Colbert for President of South Carolina and Veep of our great country (Sorry Huckabee).

For those who missed here are the links to Colbert’s announcement that he is considering announcing his intention to announce a bid for the Presidency, followed by his announcment.

(p.s. Note the diggs at Thompson. Hillarious and quite accurate I may add.)

Daily Show “Presidential Considerer”

Colbert Report, “Presidential Announcerer”

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Thomas S. Monson’s Priesthood Session Intro of Pres. Hinckley

Request For Information:  I have been scouring the Internet looking for a transcript or, ideally, an audio or video copy of President Monson’s off the cuff mini-talk while introducing Pres. Hinckley at Priesthood Session of LDS General Conference.  In this, he told the story of the red-headed boy and also very passionately expressed his love and admiration for President Hinckley.  It was extremely touching and I would love to have some sort of full record of it.   Hopefully they will put it on the CD’s when they are released or in the Ensign.   Thanks for your help!

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