Happy New Year

A bit belatedly, Happy New Year to everyone. Some optimistic wishes for 2008

* The end of the Bush era will prove to be the end of political power for the Republican party in its current (religious right/militarist/pro-rich class warfare) form, and will be followed by a return to reality-based politics

* The crisis in Pakistan will provoke the world’s leaders into serious action on nuclear disarmament. Pretty clearly, unless this happens, nuclear weapons will sooner or later fall into the hands of someone who wants to use them. There was quite a good article in Prospect unfortunately paywalled, making the point that Gordon Brown could take a lead on this if the UK (one of the prime examples of a country maintaining nuclear weapons for no better reason than national pride) was willing to offer disarmament as a bargaining chip.

* The Rudd government will deliver the goods on education, industrial relations and global warming. Despite some silly mis-steps, I’ve been favourably surprised so far at how well things have turned out.

* The slow-motion financial crisis will stay slow-motion producing a gradual reversal of the explosion of dubious debt derivatives seen over the past decade, and a relatively smooth rebalancing of household and national balance sheets.

32 thoughts on “Happy New Year

  1. Can someone explain please the link between the Pakistan crisis and the nuclear weapon?

    The Democratic record so far doesn’t hold out a lot of hope. You might enjoy this from the Buffalo Beast’s annual roundup of the 50 most loathesome Americans (Number 1 is, of course GWB).

    5. Nancy Pelosi & Harry Reid

    Charges: Graduates of the Neville Chamberlain school of appeasement, the Democratic leadership continues to ignore the constitution-and the American people-by keeping impeachment “off the table” and refusing to defund the war. True pushovers, they’re too stupid, cowardly, weak and outmatched politically to accomplish anything substantive, their “strategy” essentially boiling down to whining a lot while handing Bush whatever the hell he wants. There is just no way that appearing this weak and ineffectual could be any better for them politically than impeachment. Everything that the White House gets away with, it gets away with because congress allows it.

    Exhibit A: Failure to woo the two thirds majority needed to override a presidential veto is moot: They could defund the war with a 41-senator budgetary filibuster. But that would take guts and conviction.

    Sentence: 2 cups anthraxbisque.

  2. Obama and Huckabee just won Iowa. Is there going to be a thread on this very interesting primary season in the US?

  3. Happy New Year John!

    I also hope that Pakistan’s crisis will provoke action on nuclear disarmament. While the likelihood of Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal falling into the hands of religous wingnuts is low, it is still far too high. Global nuclear weapons arsenals are still too high, of course anything greater than zero is too high though.

    The question arises what sort of policy measures can Australia persue to contribute to nuclear disarmament. Australia has considerable market power in this area, it may be possible to make use of this. The best reference on the global uranium market is the OECD Red Book, it is possible to download a free ‘read only’ version:

    http://www.oecdbookshop.org/oecd/display.asp?CID=&LANG=EN&SF1=DI&ST1=5L9T0F7266WF

    Nuclear weapons states have the capacity to provide for their civilian nuclear needs by downblending leftover highly enriched uranium (HEU) with natural or depleted uranium to provide fuel for their reactors. Plutonium can also be used with Thorium as a way of disposing of the Plutonium and providing energy at the same time. In 2004 world primary uranium production provided for only 60% of reactor requirements. The vast majority of the shortfall was made up for by using highly enriched uranium that was previously in nuclear weapons.

    Perhaps Australia should use its market power and refuse to export uranium to nuclear weapons states, ‘encouraging’ them to downblend more of their HEU. I’m not entirely optimistic that the Rudd government would seriously consider this as a policy option though…

  4. Is it possible for confident people at this site,to find in themselves either as a preparedness for honesty,tolerance or even acceptance,that maybe they should be more circumspect about their attitudes to Pakistan and Pakistanis.I have for a number of days now, with my limited computer skills, found some really atrocious overstated and terrible comments going on…including a BBC blog,and I am of the consideration…that this stuff isnt conducive to an enabling understanding.Even if you thought the Pakistani Taliban could take over, is it really necessary to think,one overcast day they would let the damned nukes off!? If they have it in for all the infidel countries,one would expect some matters of strategic game planning would have to be played through to succeed.If you think Geo W. Bush is stupid, that call is universal,so I mean are then the Taliban in Pakistan lacking any I.Q. fibre?.I was personally hoping that Musharraf would call on our Federal Police to do some investigation work…I dont trust the Pommy Police.Well that maybe the same about Police as a matter of being an opinionated citizen when it comes to things like Tasers.Haneef ,may not of been a case of Federal Police failure alone.And Winchester as head of Police before being shot means they have some personal requirement in these matters.

  5. #28 the likelihood of Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal falling into the hands of religous wingnuts

    I’m sorry, but I think this comment is racist. Goerge W. Bush is a religious wingnut and he has his finger on the button of the world’s largest nuclear arsenal. The connection between religious wingnuttery and willingness to nuke people is not yet established.

    I repeat my question at #26 “Can someone please explain the link between the Pakistan crisis and the nuclear weapon?”

  6. Certainly Bush is also a religous wingnut and has the bomb, which is also pretty scary. When the New Yorker was reporting that the US administration was considering using nuclear armed bunker busters against Iran I was worried, probably more worried than anything happening in Pakistan at the moment. I never said Pakistani religous wingnuts were any worse than any others.

    I can’t say ever I’ve been particularly worried about Iran using nuclear weapons, having them in the first place is an important prerequisite.

    The problem with what is happening in Pakistan is that the extra level of uncertainty might raise the likelihood of a nuclear weapon being used from something like 10^-9 to something like 10^-5. It may not seem like much but something like 10^-5 is way too high for my liking. Pakistan and India have previously become too close to nuclear conflict and a year or so ago Pakistan was around the top of a ‘failed states’ index. At the same time Musharraf’s rule will have to collapse sooner or later.

    Remember the unlike possibility of the Taliban having the bomb would not only increase the likelihood of Pakistan using nuclear weapons, it would also increase the likelihood of the US using nuclear weapons.

  7. What does “serious action” mean? Does it mean all relevant parties sit down and calmly and rationally discuss, agree and then follow through on everyone’s kumbaya dreams? Why then do we see so much irrationality and lack of calm in [name your country/continent]?

    The issue with “serious action” is that it must have the capability to escalate to deal with the unfortunate facts of stubborn and intransigent human egos in seats of power. If you take away all “military” threat, will the result be a decrease or an increase of stubborn intransigence and wilful abuse of power?

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