History has a long memory

Fidel Castro becomes the leader of Cuba as a r...

Fidel Castro becomes the leader of Cuba as a result of the Cuban Revolution (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Fidel Castro’s father was a Spanish soldier in Cuba during the Spanish-American War that saw the US defeat Spain and take possession of Cuba. From First Great Triumph, How Five Americans Made Their Country a World Power by Warren Zimmermann:

“Ángel Casto, a subaltern in the Spanish Army, had been transferred to military duty from Spain to Cuba following the 1895 revolution. He hated the Americans for preventing his army from defeating the rebels; this hostility burned throughout his long life. No doubt he vented it in front of his son Fidel, born in 1926.”

Our turbulent relations with Iran date back at least to 1953 when the CIA under Eisenhower’s direction engineered the overthrow of democratically elected leader Mohammad Mosaddegh and the return to power of the Shah. The Iranian people have still not forgiven us for that.

$2 trillion

English: Former President of Iraq, Saddam Huss...

English: Former President of Iraq, Saddam Hussein, makes a point during his initial interview by a special tribunal, where he is informed of his alleged crimes and his legal rights. Deutsch: der ehemalige Präsident des Irak, Saddam Hussein, bei seiner Stellungnahme während seiner ersten Hörung vor dem Sondertribunal, bei der er über die Anklagepunkte und seine Rechte informiert wurde. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Was it worth US$2 trillion to rid Iraq of Saddam Hussein and his two sons? No, I don’t think so. It would have been far cheaper to pay them a ransom of $5-$10 billion each to vacate Iraq with their lives than to spend so much US treasure, kill 200,000, injure countless more Americans and Iraqis, and wreck Iraq just to replace a Sunni regime with a Shiite one aligned with Iran. How stupid can the American government be? Pretty darned stupid if it’s GW Bush listening to his Neocon advisers, and backed by a spineless media.

We won (sort of)

Afghanistan

Afghanistan (Photo credit: Ricymar Photography(Thanks Everyone!!!!))

In the contest called Afghanistan, the US has won (sort of). We outlasted the USSR in Afghanistan. Their war lasted 9 years while we are still fighting after 10+ years. The Soviet effort bankrupted the USSR and led to the dissolution of the country. The Afghan war has not bankrupted the US yet, but it is past time to declare victory and get out before we bankrupt ourselves. Forget about invading Iran or Syria. We can’t afford more wars now in our time of sequestration.

The real victors in the Afghan war are the people of Afghanistan. They are undefeated against Alexander the Great, the British, the Soviets and now the Americans. The only outside victor in Afghanistan was an idea, Islam. If we believe that Afghanistan should adopt democracy and gender equality, then we must be patient and permit the Afghans to decide for themselves if and when they are ready for change. In the meantime, I suggest that we withdraw and then replace our military aid with humanitarian assistance. In the long run, that will provide a better solution for Afghanistan and for the US.

Vocabulary

Facebook spell checker

Facebook spell checker (Photo credit: murkmad)

The way to grow your vocabulary is to look up the meaning and spelling of words that are new to you. I recently added three new words: simony, squinch (invented in Iran), and ligature (having to do with fonts). I’ll not define them here; if you are interested in learning, look them up. You’ll remember them better that way.

I think that spell checkers are generally a good thing in that they catch my careless errors and they make much of the web easier to read. Spell checkers are often poor on grammar; they ensure that the wrong choice of words is correctly spelled. I see “reign” and “rein” frequently misused on blogs criticizing the President. And spell checkers are not as good as a dictionary as learning tools. I often use Google for spelling and definitions, but I prefer Encarta Dictionary tools because it also pronounces the word out loud. There is no need to struggle with phonetics.

Iran part 2

English: North Iran Jungles

English: North Iran Jungles (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Iran is mostly desert and in area is three times the size of Texas. On the north, it borders the Caspian Sea which is really a lake, not a sea, and is five times the size of Lake Superior. Although mostly desert, there is an Iranian district in the northeastern part of the country that gave us its Persian name to our word for jungle. And near that district are the remains of a remote fortress that was for a time the headquarters of a religious sect that practiced assassination and gave us the word assassin. Living in largely desert, Iranians prize greenery, and most Iranian homes have a prized garden with fountains behind their walls.

The infrastructure and bureaucracy of Iran make travel within the country difficult. However, as I read about the country, I try to find places using Google Earth. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of photos of Iranian buildings and the landscape available on Google Earth. I was surprised at how green and beautiful the holy city of Mashhad in the northeastern part of the country is. Mashhad is Iran’s second most populous city and also a center of manufacturing. Iranians are avid skiers, mountain climbers and hang-gliding enthusiasts. The games of backgammon and chess are Iranian (Persian).

I would certainly like to visit the country if the infrastructure made travel easier. Iranians are very hospitable people and extend a warm welcome to Americans. It is our government’s policies that they dislike. A typical Iranian home has little or no furniture. The floors are covered with Persian rugs and people visit, eat and sleep on the floor. Thus an Iranian home can accommodate many visitors overnight by bringing mattresses out of hiding in closets and spreading them on the floor.

My recommended reading list:

  1. Neither East Nor West by Christiane Bird
  2. The Ayatollah Begs to Differ by Hooman Majd
  3. The Ayatollahs‘ Democracy by Hooman Majd
  4. Persian Mirrors by Eleaine Sciolino
  5. All the Shah’s Men by Stephen Kinzer
  6. Negotiating with Iran by John Limbert

Please see Iran

English: Southern Caspian Energy Prospects por...

English: Southern Caspian Energy Prospects portion of Iran Country Profile 2004 http://www.lib.utexas.edu/maps/middle_east_and_asia/iran_southern_caspian_energy_prospects_2004.jpg source (CIA map) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)