Time To dance To The Tune Of The West………

James Baker is telling George Bush he must go cap in hand to the Syrians and Iranians if there is ever to be peace in Iraq. Tony Blair is calling for both countries to play a larger role in Middle East peace generally.

For more than three years now, cialis both national leaders have been bad-mouthing the Iranians and Syrians – George Bush even denouncing Iran as part of his “axis of evil”. Can the governments of either country be blamed if they show less than enthusiasm for leaping into the fray when Bush and Blair crook their fingers?

Or, should they, perhaps, consider it an honor to be called to serve the great Western powers in their hour of need?

Many Americans will automatically assume the latter.

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Those Were The Days…….

Posting has been light of late, for which Sparrow Chat apologizes profusely.

The reason: integrating a new laptop computer into our meagre network, and a larger flat panel monitor for the rather aging Dell 3400S desktop that has been the mainstay of Sparrow Chat production for the last three years.

Of course, the geeky among us will snigger at the idea of taking so long to achieve such simple tasks, but happily the millions of non-geeks out there (with whom I proudly ally!) will understand how complex – not to say, excessively irritating – the whole process can be.

One expects to plug in, switch on, and go to work. None of it! Just deciding on a suitable screen resolution – for both laptop and desktop monitor – becomes a frustrating business when every webpage suddenly looks totally different. The new 19″ flat panel made Sparrow Chat look all squashed up in the middle of the screen, or alternatively, fat and blurry when set to the low resolution used previously. At one point I was in favor of consigning the darned thing to the garbage and reverting to the old, yet trusted, friend it had replaced. Yes, I do mean that hernia-inducing, lump of cathode-ray tube so reminiscent of an early post-war television set, which, like its 1950’s cousins somehow provided a warmer, more welcoming, picture than the sterile, pixelated, ice-images resulting from today’s modern technological achievements.

This digital age is not all it’s cracked up to be. Any audiophile worth his stack of redundant Long Playing vinyl will tell you that the sound from a stylus whirling through a groove at 33rpm is far more satisfying to the ear than an MP3 player squawking its baseless rendition of Beethoven’s Ninth. Britain’s most prestigious Hi-Fi manufacturer, Linn, still sells as many of its top of the range Sondek turntables, at around $2000 each, as it did in the 1970’s (when I owned one). This, despite the product it is designed to play being obsolete for over twenty years.

Sadly, the old Commodore 64 computers, around at about the same time, couldn’t match today’s Inspiron laptops – so we are stuck with the digital, for all its many drawbacks; not least of all – the geeks, who smirk at our ham-fistedness in taking a week to perform what they can do in a couple of minutes.

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New American Century – Dead, Or Simply Stunned?

The election is over. The post-mortems will occupy the media for weeks to come. Is America turning blue? Have the Republicans had their day?

Give me a break!

No, America is not changing color and the GOP will be back. The doctrine of “Project for the New American Century” has not yet been laid to rest. It’s sad, but true. This election was a protest over a president who ignored his people, and an administration that used political office to feather its own nests.

Two years ago, America re-elected George W Bush by a bigger majority than in 2000. Mind, it could hardly have got smaller! This time, marginally less than half America voted for the man. Most of the polls were close. America is hardly turning blue.

Midterms, in any nation, are often characterized by protest voting, and this one was no exception. If Democrats believe this is their turning point, and its all about coasting to the presidency in 2008, they’d better think again. The presidential race will be a whole different ballgame from the midterms.

Unless, of course, Pelosi and gang can pull something good out of their new blue bags over the next two years.

If they put their minds to it, that shouldn’t be difficult. There’s been enough corruption and scandal surfaced in the last twelve months to suggest an awful lot more still hidden under the White House carpets. Shaking it out, giving it a good airing, may provide enough political fodder to carry the voters for another twenty-four months.

It will take more than sorting Iraq and bringing the troops home. In another two years, George Bush would claim his policies achieved success, and many voters are crass enough to believe it. Couple that with a possible challenge by Senator John “two-faced” McCain, a darling of many on the ‘redder-side-of-blue’ America, and the suggestion of another Kerry debacle if Democratic nominations go their usual inept way, and you have a recipe for the biggest Republican rave-up in recent history, circa 2008.

America was battered emotionally by 9/11/2001. Its reaction was to kick out blindly, with disastrous consequences for most of the world. Those that suffered most were the ones not involved in 9/11. Those that gained the most were the Islamic extremists. It’s not just nations directly in the firing line that come off worst when America reacts so aggressively. No-one can have failed to notice the upsurge in violence around the globe in the last three years. Even in countries not directly effected by Islamic terrorism, violence has reared its ugly, barbaric head.

America has that effect on the world. When America practises peace, the world relaxes a little. When America roars, everyone becomes unsettled and mini-wars break out around the globe.

It’s an awesome responsibility, and one that Americans do not recognize easily. It’s the price of being the greatest; the most powerful.

America behaved like a spoilt child after 9/11. Like a schoolyard bully it lashed out at the weak; the innocent. Whoever was “do-able”. It supported a gang of schoolyard bullies out for all they could take, using a national disaster to subvert the course of world history for their own purposes.

It is a lesson in how complacency can have disastrous results. The Nazi party used complacency to rise to power in the 1930’s.

For now, the endgame is played out. The pieces have to be picked up and somehow put back together. Let us hope the Democrats have learned some lessons and take their new-found power seriously and responsibly. If not, 2008 could start it all over again.

Meanwhile, the “Project for the New American Century” will wait patiently to be unfurled once more.

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