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Pivotal Power

May 19, 2009
The good, the bad and the interesting

Zalmay Khalilzad, the former U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan, may take a major post in the Afghan government.

The Good

Tough new fuel economy standards for U.S. vehicles. In terms of international diplomacy, this is more palpable evidence that the U.S. is finally getting serious about global warming. The more the U.S. shows it is willing to take tough steps, the more leverage we will have to get others, particularly China, to commit to limits on their global greenhouse gasses.

The Indian elections. Voters in India handed a victory to the current ruling Congress party, paving the way for economic reforms that are likely to boost the Indian economy in the long term. India has roughly as many people living below the poverty level as the entire population of the United States.

The Bad

The swine flu vaccine is proving difficult to produce.  

The Interesting

The New York Times reports that Zalmay Khalilzad, the former U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan, may take a major post in the Afghan government.  He’s a powerful operator, by all accounts, so maybe he’ll be able to make the trains in Kabul run on time — or at least get the trains on the tracks.  But I wonder about situations where the interests of the Afghan government and U.S. government diverge…

– Nina Hachigian

Photo courtesy of Flickr user US Army Korea – IMCOM under a Creative Commons license.




Some good flu news:

“Scientists link influenza A (H1N1) susceptibility to common levels of arsenic exposure”

If further studies confirm this finding, then we’ll be able to allocate antivirals and eventually vaccine to most vulnerable populations. I think we also need a little more clarification on what amounts to “common levels”, but it looks like current regs in US result in low enough arsenic level to eliminate high death rates from swine flu. This doesn’t change the intrinsic risk of swine flu reassorting into something more lethal, such as by combining with bird flu (perhaps low probability but likely extreme consequences) and actually might increase that likelihood as nations let down their guard. Egypt took the most proactive stance by ending pig farming, and affected industries have spun it to their detriment, just as same interests will spin this as they can to suppress further moves to limit the real risk: CAFOs


“US is finally getting serious about global warming”

My view is that “world powers” are mistakenly addressing climate change and resource depletion as separate crises. Increasing demands for energy parallel increasing resource depletion in general, so moving to renewables – either in response to climate change or to peak oil – is wrong-headed if first we don’t change how we consume. Extinction is still forever (more or less) when it’s accomplished with wind and solar. Disaster capitalism presents us with a window of opportunity: people are ready for big change. Imagine a world where communities profit through energy autonomy and so are empowered to protect their human and natural resources, i.e. If this is possible then isn’t it inevitable in a free marketplace? The question isn’t if but when: If strong nations don’t relinquish power to the people then “when” will be after the collapse of the global marketplace. That collapse is inevitable if we do not recreate the local marketplaces that permit communities to protect resources because the global marketplace rewards the exploitation of unprotected resources. Stronger centralized regulation can’t solve this because the greater the regulation, the more profitable the piracy. Witness the Soviet Union.


A Subterranean Parallel of Meaning(s) to what was previously written (as it pertains to Human Relations):

Let there be a Proper Alchemy in every
Aspect Of The Words which we speak
which are spoken indeed beneath Branches
Of Thought-Trees Growing In The Earliest
Gardens Of Meanings determined from
those very Roots Signifying
Originally Intended Interpretations
whether or not
we have ever understood entirely
the Native Languages of the Human Speaker
before us who Daily and Nightly has long assembled the Finite Structures upon which
we must continue to build all the Contexts
of all The Infinite Things in Life we conceive.

Let there ever then be a Proper Atmosphere
for the flowing Alchemy by which our Minds do necessarily process the Light and the Dark into Temperate Mixings…
our Necessary Transmutations
of Human Understanding
of the Days we sacrifice
and the Nights we endure which run
throughout all our liquid Alchemical Lives
which are Lived within the Realms of the shared Atmospheres of the Regions of this Vast World as we Live In Them…in words of bodily
Finite Symbologies beneath the weight of singularly wordless Substance
partaking of Infinity…our Whole Lives Long.


From the Main Article:

“Zalmay Khalilzad, the former U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan, may take a major post in the Afghan government. He’s a powerful operator, by all accounts, so maybe he’ll be able to make the trains in Kabul run on time — or at least get the trains on the tracks”.

A Possible Interpretation of the Quote from
the Main Article:

This “get[ting] the train on the tracks” will prove a fine Art if the “tracks” still remain after the battles [on various physical and ideological levels] are over.

Divergence of interests might be secondary to the Idea that there might be very few willing to sincerely get on such “trains” [of, again, different planes of Thought] as will temporally pass and lead through such War-Torn Terrains as these Desolate Regions seem to be–these Deserts which must be, by Nature, the Anvils by which our Lives Of Warfare are daily and nightly “hammered” into something more enduring, spiritually, if not simply: physically…

Let Seeking Individuals be Mended, then…
to the greatest degree possible [on all levels of Being].

If this cannot be done, nothing else will be able to provide “tracks” for such “trains” of Parallel (Multilevel) Thoughts which will again lead into Deserts…in our own Regions of Desolate Thinking.

In other words…

What Thoughts can be, sincerely, mended while the Individuals are being physically mended to the depth of Spiritual Understanding necessary for living Life sanely; how much more, then:
for even…Human Survival…with some sense-residue of Dignity?

Nina Hachigian is a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress and the co-author of “The Next American Century: How the U.S. Can Thrive as Other Powers Rise.” She has worked on the staff of the National Security Council in the White House and been a senior political scientist at the RAND Corporation. She specializes in U.S.-China relations and great power relationships, multilateral institutions and U.S. foreign policy.

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