Some just never get it right, even the brightest and most influential. For example, when US President Rutherford Hayes first saw Graham Bell’s communication discovery he remarked, “That’s an amazing invention, but who would ever want to use one of them?” H.G. Wells, renowned for his imagination, had no faith in submarines, asserting, “My imagination refuses to see any sort of submarine doing anything but suffocate its crew and floundering at sea.” And how many really believed the Y2K scare – in which nearly all computers would pack up when 1999 rolled into 2000? The mainstream media regularly gets it wrong owing to their politically orientated misrepresentation. This year global warming would have top billing of the year, Iraqi bloodshed would probably follow and Vladimir Putin with his “Person of the year” status takes some examining.
Al Gore received a Nobel Prize this year for his sensationalized film on
global warming. Conceivably, this is the first time a Nobel Peace Prize has
been given for a film (produced under the conceit of being scientific) that
wholeheartedly exaggerates a natural phenomenon, by a non-scientist. Those
that listened to his sermon believe we are in for dramatically hard times.
The issue those people, and the mass media are ignoring, is the natural
variation in weather patterns. To date, over 400 leading scientists have
expressed doubts over man-made global warming, and the number is growing;
but the press is repressing the whole story.
Over the past 2 years, far from what Al Gore suggested, the intensity and
frequency of hurricanes has not increased. As a matter of fact, for those
that might not remember, not one hurricane made landfall in the United
States. 2007 has been a calm year for hurricanes compared to past years.
In contrast to what Al Gore so readily prophesizes 2007 was one of the
coldest years in ages, which is a distinct disillusion to global warming
adherents. California saw its citrus crops fail to severe frost. Peru
declared a state of emergency due to the extreme cold. Snow fell in Buenos
Aires for the first time since 1918. In fact, many more people died of
exposure to cold than to heat in 2007.
Mr. Gore professes an economic boom in fighting global warming. But taking
into consideration the considerable financial restraints the Kyoto
conditions imposes on its members, it is more of an economic burden on the
world than an economic boom and the only ones benefiting from it so far is
Al Gore, a few of his disciples and the scientific community adhering to
this spurious naturalistic craze.
Furthermore, the ecological rush to ethanol has so far produced, for the
first time in ages, a worldwide shortage of cereal. This has increased the
prices enormously for those that can least afford it; all on account of a
questionable experiment in fuel efficiency and national independence that so
far has proven inefficient, costly and threatens starvation.
As for the looming threat of rising oceans, there isn’t anything surprising
or new in that natural reoccurring condition. If anyone tours the Brittany
Coast of France they would have witnessed the port towns and forts high and
dry well inland. Those places were onshore back in the 18th century; since
then the ocean has receded over 2 miles. If the sea level does rise
considerably, it won’t rise like some incoming spring tide; it will be a
slow process giving man plenty of time to adapt, just as they did in the
past. However, such a scenario isn’t dramatic enough for Al Gore’s prophesy.
Speaking of prophesies; it would be hard to calculate the amount of people
who were convinced Gen. Petreus’s surge campaign in Iraq would fail; it was
almost a conviction. Well, contrary to what so many thought, those extra
30,000 troops have made a big difference with the death toll to allied
soldiers and Iraqis dropping dramatically and al-Qaeda is on the run in
Iraq. Incidentally, this heavyweight approach goes to prove that Colin
Powell’s theory of using overwhelming force during a war holds true and that
Rumsfeld’s theory of a lean army is dubious at best.
Contradictory to the earlier opinion of many other people, the Provisional
Security Forces (PSF) have confirmed their effectiveness and they have
proven to be a valuable force multiplier. Their numerous checkpoints have
deprived the enemy of freedom of movement and have stripped them of their
The Iraqi people have at last recognized that al-Qaeda brought only death
and misery and they are now behind the local police force and army;
enrollment in both forces has never seen such levels. The Iraqi population
is fed up with the al-Qaeda’s macabre torture methods, their random, brutal
slaughter of even women and children, and their total lack of humanity. They
are being exposed by the local population by means of cell phones, e-mailing
and Google Earth to point out to US forces the enemy’s exact location, often
in real time. The local population has finally put their trust in the
Characteristically, journalists have been reluctant (read loath) to report
these positive occurrences, especially with the upcoming American elections,
in fear it might give support to the Republicans.
On the subject of elections, the recent Russian election simply confirmed
the obvious: democracy in that country is doomed to failure, no matter what
many Kremlinologists might have presumed. It was hardly a free and fair
election process; any opposition to the establishment was met with ruthless
justice. Political harassment, arrests, convictions and internment are
Russia is governed by a totally authoritarian regime under control, for the
first time, by the security forces, known as the Siloviki (power people).
This rather clandestine order is made up of exceedingly wealthy oligarchs on
one hand and a circle of military/secret service elite on the other. Among
them they possess a monopoly of all the natural resources of Russia. The
leadership hails from St. Petersburg where they all had close ties with the
St. Petersburg mafia, Yeltsin was in the thick of it; they knew the workings
of organized crime and adopted its principles into their government.
This structure can be considered like a Mafia family and is nothing more
than how Judge Falcone saw the Mafia to be, as an “expression of a need for
order, for the control of the state”. And as with any don, Putin has his
share of enemies and must protect himself once he leaves office. Just as
Putin shielded Yeltsin, his new prime minister and probable successor,
Dmitri Medvedev might well do the same for him. But one can never be sure of
anything in the Kremlin. For the time being Putin’s key protection safeguard
is his popularity with the people and his massive wealth.
Infighting among the clan has already begun within a group of Siloviki
hardliners in the Kremlin, led by Igor Sechin, Putin’s deputy chief of
staff. The group is made up of officials in the military and security field.
They are against a liberal faction of the Kremlin made up of wealthy
businessmen like petrol magnate Roman Abramovich, (one of the richest men on
the planet) the Uzbek billionaire, Alisher Usmanov and Dmitri Medvedev. It
is like a war among mafia bosses and the central issue concerns money, his
and theirs. They know that godfather Putin has assets of well over $40bn,
largely from his vast interests in Russian petroleum and gas companies. The
holdings are hidden in offshore companies and the cash stashed away in
Liechtenstein and Zug (tax-free zone) Switzerland. Putin is worried that his
resources would be in jeopardy if he were to retire and needs Medvedev and
his group to protect him. Putin cleverly inducted Medvedev into his clique,
as he has absolutely no ties to the security services, thereby destabilizing
the Sechin camp.
Under Putin’s leadership a big change has overcome Russia and it doesn’t
bode well for future Western relations. The FSB (former KGB) now holds all
the power; this is something unprecedented in Russian history. During Soviet
times, and even before, the security services were very powerful but they
were under the control of the reigning government and those that directed
them were loyal to the state or didn’t last long in office. Like any mafia,
those within the family always worry about one of their kind gaining too
much power with inevitable consequences. This clan has already shown very
little tolerance for disloyalty and a family feud might be inevitable.
Whatever happens, The Kremlin will become more secretive, more anti-Western
and more of an enigma than ever before. And there isn’t much one can do
Peter B. Martin