War and Money
Where the money is, power you will find there also.
Everyone is always saying knowledge is power. Where do the smart people go? Where the money is. Who do the powerful people hire to make them more money? The smart people.
I've stated in my other post that information has value. You can pay someone to pass on information, or you can be paid to pass on information. Or bad information. Information can thus be thought of as a form of currency. And the more information you control, then the more knowledge you have, the more money you have, the more power you have.
Now imagine this scenario. I am China. I like the fact that there is a 100-billion-dollar a year trade deficit with the United States. I fucking love it and I am willing to divert a large fraction of that money to keep it coming. If I were to pay 600 prominent politicians in America 90 million dollars each to keep the trade favorable (and another 10 million to keep people from finding out about it), I would still be making a shit ton of money! Now do you think you could buy a politician for 100 million? Hell yeah! And the ones you can't buy? Disappear them for a million dollars. Don't kill them because that would be grounds for war - just disappear them for a certain price (scandal, "tragic accident", swamp them with diversions...).
See why I won't ever vote for a politician again? I'll vote for idealists from this day forward, and they won't be running for president. It is my firm belief that anyone who strives to become president has a personal agenda that matches up with America's interests only a fraction of the time. I could name a bunch of idealists I would follow. The problem is to get everyone to follow the same idealist as many idealists are such only for specific causes. Even if we all threw away our vote in the same direction, then the powers that are in charge would pay attention
Voting is an issue apart. But it makes you want to be more involved in what happens with your nation, right? Instead of letting some selfish person represent you, eh? Hell our politicians tell us that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction so that our legislature would okay a war - and no matter how much they deny it, the oil of Iraq is a motive (might not be the only one, but it is one). Please note that they did not ask the people of America if it would be okay to send our boys overseas to beat the shit out of Iraq. They asked our representatives if it would be okay to send our boys overseas. I guarantee you if they would have asked the people, Operation Iraqi Freedom would not have happened. So if asking the people meant Cheney wouldn't make as much money, why ask the people in the first place? We all should go sacrifice the lives of 4,000+ Americans so that Cheney can make more money. And sacrifice another 50 million dollars or more to keep this on the down-low so that those who would fight about it don't find out about it.
Save a life. Shoot a politician.
The Ignorant Profiteer
I had an epiphany while watching the movie Sum of All Fears. There's this crazy/brilliant/stupid guy who states quite simply that Germany would have won world war two if they had gotten America and Russia to fight each other instead of the way it really happened.
My epiphany? I was pondering how America rose to power. By the year 1900, America produced more steel than the next two countries combined (Britain and Germany). Our engineers were coming up with such things as phones, light bulbs, trains, steam boats, propellers, steel ships and all sorts of useful and unique modern things. If we didn't invent it, we made it part of every-day life. America is where it happened.
Yet Europe was still considered the seat of power in the world. Britain conquered the largest empire in the history of the world (though it was short-lived). France conquered large parts of Africa and Asia. America had risen to become probably the most powerful nation in the world some time just before world war one, but we didn't take the role. Even though we were a major power at the time, we had a lot of major competition from Europe. Then world war one happened and completely eliminated the Austrian Empire from the picture. Between world wars one and two, we definitely were the most powerful nation in the world yet we stayed out of the spotlight and let everyone else act like they were the most powerful nations in the world. Then world war two happened and everyone else beat the shit out of each other while we watched for two years. Even when we entered world war two, our homeland remained relatively safe.
And when the dust settled, America was standing almost unscathed. We had our losses, yes, but so much less than everyone else. We lost 250,000 soldiers in WWII. Japan lost five times that. The Soviet Union lost 20 million civilians. Germany lost 7 million soldiers, ten million civilians. Britain's infrastructure took a major hit with air raids and U-boats, not to mention their empire collapsed shortly afterwards. China lost 30 million people in their civil war by conservative estimates.
And of course, our factories loved being the only ones left. That meant our competition had been removed and the rich people in other countries needed to replace their lost property. Whether it was intentional or not, our country benefitted vastly from everyone else getting the shit kicked out of them. We grew richer from this and didn't even know that it was a major cause.
Solution: start a civil war in China that would lead to a collapse of its economy and power. One less competitor. Get France, Britain, and Germany to unite against Russia. Four more down. Get Japan to bankrupt itself conquering North Korea and voila! We are the only ones left standing again.
Trust me when I say this: our politicians, as well as those around the world, know this very well. Do not profit from fighting a war as much as getting others to fight a war. It's part of the reason Persia grew to such a large empire in the olden days: they'd get their neighbors to fight and when the neighbor's nobles were bankrupt and the people already decimated... it was ripe for a take-over.
Death Makes Us Rich
Settlers of Catan and World Politics
I don't know how many people play this game, but it is pretty fun. The fact that the dynamic changes every single game keeps it interesting longer than most games. I played it often my freshman year of college and learned some relevant tactics with the modern world.
I got my ass kicked a lot at first. And by a lot I mean I won less than 10% of the games I played. Then one roommate pointed out some very helpful tips. One: I was limiting my options by building in areas were I got fewer resources - I was starving myself for income (and in the long run, power). Two: I would play incredibly aggressively which made everyone focus on fighting me in particular. Three: I did not diversify enough - I left weak spots in my game plan that with just a little bit of pressure would cripple my offensive.
How does this apply to world politics? Think about what we are doing right now around the world. We are staying on top by holding everyone else down. What does that do? That unites the world against us. Notice how unpopular Americans are in a large portion of the world. We have been the world police for too long and everyone is sick of us being the world police. That goes with Settler's bad tactic number two.
Also, we are incredibly dependent on foreign fuel resources. If we burned coal, we'd have enough reserves here in America to last us for a couple generations. But we got to use up the world resources first so that by then, we will be the only country that even has fuel (believe me that politicians have figured this out. Why do you think we haven't made a major step to convert our infrastructure away from foreign oil?). Not only that, but we have oil that is not tapped yet - and why tap it now when we can tap it next year for 20% more profit? This dependency portrays the lack of diversification that leaves us one really big weakness. Bad tactic number three.
Are we limiting our own options? In ways yes and in ways no. We will pay our taxes to our government, who will then throw money at corporations to do research and then not make the research public. Public funds going to private enterprise. Benjamin got flushed down the toilet. By not releasing the latest cutting-edge technology and creating/expanding our markets, we are holding ourselves back. Think of the technological advances from 1850 to 1950 - cars, planes, phones, atomic bombs, even the rifle is about that timeframe. Then think of from 1950 to now - the microwave oven became a common household item, phones became wireless, computers were by far an away the biggest contribution, we landed on the moon... great feats that fell far short of where we should be as a species. At the rate we've accelerated, we should have landed mankind on mars, we should be driving hovercraft, our cars should be controlled by a central uplink that keeps track of our position, speed, and acceleration. Miniature wormholes would allow goods to be shipped around the world for pennies and do so in just a few seconds time. Cold fusion should have been solved in the 1960s. Do you honestly think we haven't done these things? I believe we've done some of them and the government doesn't want us to know about them. Some have obvious dangers that can't be put in the hands of the public. Other technologies are kept on the down-low simply because of greed and political gain. We are limiting ourselves in many cases without just cause. Strategy tragedy one.