Pearl Harbor

In the 1930s, Japan was expanding aggressively in Asia and the US decided to impose an embargo on Japan on steel and petroleum. Japan considered the embargo a hostile act and later decided to retaliate by attacking Pearl Harbor.

Crimea was part of Russia until it was transferred peacefully, perhaps for administrative purposes, to the Ukraine while both Russia and Ukraine were part of the USSR. With the Ukraine tilting toward the West and possible membership in the European Union and NATO, Russia saw the possibility of its Black Sea fleet bases being lost, and Putin acted to prevent it from happening. Some commentators on the Right are saying that we can and possibly should cripple Russia with economic sanctions. Russia is not Iraq or Iran or Libya or Syria. We must be very cautious what we do. Russia has as many, or more, nuclear weapons than we do. The crisis in Ukraine can be as bad as we make it.

Venezuela

There is unrest and street demonstrations now in Venezuela. I am no expert, but I do know that Venezuela has its version of the 1% and the 99% although the exact numbers probably differ somewhat from ours. The divide is the same with the country being dominated by big oil and those of the 1% who benefit from it. Hugo Chávez changed that when he was in power because he championed the concerns of Venezuela’s 99%. In fact, the US sponsored a coup against him that lasted for only two days. The US is again involved in stirring up trouble there.

Blackwater revisited

Civilian Warriors, The Inside Story of Blackwater and the Unsung Heroes of the War on Terror by Erik Prince. Erik Prince founded and ran Blackwater until he sold the company and retired. It is difficult to determine who is right, Prince or Blackwater’s many critics. I did learn where Blackwater’s second corporate name, Xe, came from. It is the chemical symbol for Xenon, a colorless, odorless gas that is invisibly a small part of the atmosphere.

Blackwater’s employees are referred to as independent contractors and were paid in the range of $150,000 to $200,000 annually. Purely from the principal of fairness, I oppose using highly paid contractors to perform military duties in a combat zone. All personnel fielded by the US in a war should be paid the same and obey the same rules. If men and women in combat deserve six-figure salaries, then everyone should receive them. If on the other hand, the US believes our military deserves low pay, then everyone should receive similarly low wages.