Of Crime and Terrorism

The attacks in Chattanooga and Charleston could not seem more different: Islamic terrorism and a ‘white race war’ perpetrated by two young men who were disturbed by their own life’s inconsistencies, not because they grew up oppressed, lacking freedom, wealth and education (George Bushes favorite explanation why people engage in terrorism, one major reason to ‘bring freedom and democracy’ to the Middle East). Both young men were so called ‘Lone Wolves’ and only superficially motivated by long established political extremist thought. Neither was a member of any corresponding group (supremacists, jihadists) promoting anti-establishment politics and philosophy.

After 9/11, the ‘War on Terror’ relabeled what are clearly ‘hate crimes’ into the terminology of war, with friend and foe, good and evil, combatants and civilians. The war on terror treated a crime as an act of rebellion, for terror has always been a weapon of states, rebels, and freedom fighters. It is time to pursue acts of terror by individuals as hate crimes, not an act of war, which gives the perpetrator more mystic and esteem than they deserve. By labeling them combatants (as in enemy combatants) we grant them the status of warriors in the eyes of their supporters, not criminals.

Extraordinary times require extraordinary action

The IMF must be lauded for recommending debt relieve for Greece. And the German finance minister Schauble is dead wrong. He must resign.

If the Germans are even the slightest bit interested in the European Union, they must demonstrate solidarity with, not punishment for the Greeks. But for them right now it is all about saving their banks, who profited enormously from funneling money into the Greek economy prior to the financial crises. Now they must share the pain.

It is about rules, shouts the foreign minister. Yet vibrant economies have proven mechanisms of debt relief called bankruptcy procedures. It is a particularly helpful tool of the American economy. Many fortune 500 companies have gone and are going through bankruptcy protection (GM, Chrysler, American Airlines, or recently the city of Detroit) i.e. Government granted debt relief (through the courts) that leaves many creditors without their money or much less of it. When ever it is not available at all, it will cause systemic problems. A good example is the current growing American student debt for higher education. These debts cannot be relieved through bankruptcy and the country is heading towards a crisis in education. Or look at German history. After the first world war, Germany was saddled with war costs it could not pay. The  result: nationalistic aggression and another war. The post-WWII Marshall plan and German debt relief brought the Bundesrepublik into the community of modern democratic societies. It is unimaginable for me to see how the land of Goethe and a people how love Greek antiquity is willing to destroy modern day Greece and risk the down fall of what is a blossoming United States of Europe.

Government at its best

The flyby of the New Horizon spacecraft near Pluto is testimony to the effectiveness and perseverance of scientific and technological programs that only governments can fund.

Compare this with privatized space technology programs like the Google Lunar Prize that adds nothing new to technology but very likely causes the littering of the moon with space trash.

The Iran deal on nuclear weapons is good for the world

The deal between¬†Britain, France, Russia, China, the US and Germany and Iran to prevent the latter from developing nuclear weapons is a brave, yet simple step in the right direction. It is victory for diplomacy and a repudiation of aggression. All players will have to show that they are serious, but all should have their chance to prove that they are working for what they promised… Iran, that it uses nuclear power only for energy purpose and not weapons, the West and the US that they are allowing Iran back into the international trade. The goal must be to have an Iran worthy of its long tradition as an independent, peaceful country. Sectarian and nationalistic war fare in the Middle East does not help, of course, and all parties must find a way to reduce violence, must agree to not use violence and acknowledge the existence of its neighbors, including that of the State of Israel.

Long term, all countries must work towards a nuclear weapons free world. This means that no new country can develop them and that all current owners of such weapons of mass destruction must develop a transparent process in removing their existing stock piles. This starts with first submitting to international inspections of all countries with known military and/or civilian use of nuclear power, listing current stocks of weapons and enrichment capability, and propose a mechanism and time line for its elimination.

A Heritage of Slavery

By listening to some white folks from South Carolina and many other corners of the country, the confederate flag represents heritage, my heritage, white heritage. So let me disavow this heritage as one of hate that shall not enjoy public support, state support in anyway. This flag is a symbol of white supremacy, racism and was used as a battle flag to fight for the right to own black slaves. This is heritage alright, because we own our history, but we shall not celebrate it as an innocuous state rights issue, or to claim that upholding the flag is honoring confederate veterans who died for a cause now acknowledged to be immoral, who fought not for a United States of America and its Constitution, but a Confederate States of America, a secessionist America that went to war over the righteous believe that black people are worth less (three-fifth, to be precise) than white people.