The New Persian Empire
Sometimes, my brain decides that it wants to hold a particular image of things. This is normal and most people's brains do the same thing. What concerns me is when my brain decides to have a concrete image of something in the future. That's what happened in the case of New Persia.
Today, what remains of the Persian Empire is the nation of Iran. The empire itself was more or less a thing from about 550 b.c.e. With a few minor breaks for invaders who disrupted everybody (Mongol hoards, for example). Their last emperor, referred to in the West as the Shah, was deposed in the late seventies and dies in exile.
There is still an exile government called the National Council of Iran. Their main goal is to overthrow the actual sitting government of Iran. That doesn't seem to be going too well, and I wouldn't expect too much from it.
The actual current government of Iran is an Islamic theocracy. Though they are fairly harsh from a western point of view, they aren't as radical and wildly destructive as groups like the Islamic State. However, the Iranian government does not get on well with western powers, particularly the United States. It seems that when the Iranians got rid of the Shah, who was pretty much a dictator, the U. S. and the British helped put him back in power and he promptly dealt with all the people who overthrew him. When they kicked the Shah out a second time, they captured the American embassy, leading to what we call the Iran Hostage Crisis.
Today, we still don't get along with Iran. To the West, the Iranian government are fundamentalist whackos who want nuclear weapons. The the people in charge of the current Iranian government, the Americans are a bunch of degenerates who destroy, kill, and corrupt anybody and everybody. Sure, there are citizens in both countries who are more moderate ("discomfort to the infidels!"), but the official positions are hostile to each other.
As much as we may dislike the government of Iran, we have to admit that Iran is one of the more stable countries in the middle east. This could have something to do with the fact that a huge majority are Shia Muslims and all other religions add up to a tiny minority. Also, the culture is strongly influenced by the long-standing Persian culture and less by the more tribal Arabic culture found neighboring countries.
Back to my imaginings, though, and I see a time in a century or so where Iran has expanded to encompass more of the old Persian Empire. I see their borders extended westward to take in almost all of Iraq (leaving a sliver of the north to the Kurds who would be too much trouble to fight). I also see that border taking a chunk out of the east side of Saudi Arabia, and maybe a little sliver out of the southern border of Turkey.
How could this happen? Why would the U. S. and its allies allow such a thing? I'm not sure yet. I have a few guesses, but that's all they are. There are two major points that affect the American response.
First, if Iraq becomes more unstable it would be reasonable that the Shia people there would ask for assistance from their Shia neighbors in Iran. Much like Russia's recent annexation of Crimea, this would give Iran a reason to march into Iraq to protect "their people" living there and then choose to stay. If the result was a sudden increase in stability in the region, it would be hard to argue against it and Iran's borders would be permanently stretched.
Help from the Dragon
It has already been seen that China been extending its reach into the Middle East, coming in through Pakistan and wanting partnerships further in. It would be easy to see them backing Iranian expansion. If nothing else, this would irk the U. S., but, more importantly, it gives them better access to Middle Eastern oil reserves. The American government may be willing to push back against Iran, but doesn't want to pick a fight with China at this time.
The second thing I see happening is a reduction in interest from European countries. Many countries in Europe have pinned their hopes on renewable energy sources with less pollution. They don't want to rely on oil for anything. More importantly, they don't want to have to deal with refugees from the Middle East. Anything that keeps the peace where the refugees come from will be somewhat welcome. If Iran is involved in stabilizing the region, even through expansion of its borders, many Europeans will see that as a good thing. The English may be the exception, but they are sort of responsible for a lot of the turmoil there in the first place.
Help from the Bear
The third thing involves Russia. Russia likes to annoy the Americans easily as much as the Chinese, if not more. They also tend to be more comfortable with dictatorships and harsher forms of government. We see that now in Syria where Russia has sided with the dictator instead of the rebels fighting him. Note that the U. S. is on the side of the rebels. If there is an agreement for the Russians and Iranians to fight the Islamic State, the Americans won't be in a position to do much about it. That hard-line coalition can move into the Islamic State held areas, set up a "peace keeping" force and just settle in. The Russians, with memories of Afghanistan, would probably be willing to let Iran have the real control of the area.
If Russia really wants to be sure of its welcome in the Middle East, they just have to come down in favor of a Palestinian State. If they say the current nation of Israel was created by the British Empire and other western countries (over guilt about the actions of the Nazis), they are basically saying Israel is not a valid nation. The rest of the Middle East will welcome the Russians with open arms.
If these things come to pass, the borders of Iran would expand as described above. Over time, I also see their hardline regime being mellowed by the practicalities of actual life. They will still be an Islamic theocracy for the next couple of centuries, but what that means may change with so many people to rule. They will have to adapt to interacting with the rest of the world, starting with Russia and China. As their isolation crumbles, some of their cultural defenses will crumble too. As we saw with the Soviet Union, you can get more change with blue jeans and burgers than you can with ballistic missiles.
The Romans learned early on that conquered peoples have to have a path to becoming full members of your society. When the new Persia opens up schools that teach the Persian language (as spoken in Iran) instead of Arabic, the culture will change, but change can happen in lots of ways. Their own culture will have to make small concessions to be be more open and inclusive. If not, their new empire may not last more than three centuries.
So, that's the image in my head. That's what I see as a stabilizing occurrence in the Middle East. That's what I foretell about the New Persian Empire.
The Lessons of Brexit
A little over half of the United Kingdom just voted to leave the European Union. The fallout is still to be determined, of course. Though I don't actually have any say in the matter, not being British, I still think of leaving as a stupid move. Someone I know argues that the Brits have simply voted to maintain their sovereignty and that is a good thing. That argument misses the point.
Imagine that you have a tray in front of you and on the tray there is a fork and there is a flower. You are presented with the choice to either smell the flower or to stick the fork in your eye. You may say that it is your right to choose. I will not argue that point; it is definitely your right to choose. However, if you choose to stick the fork in your eye, I am going to call you a moron. (Actually, I probably won't use such a family-friendly word.)
Having sovereignty doesn't automatically require that you be be separate. You have the right to get into cooperative partnerships that benefit you. Choosing to break such partnerships just to spite your partners is probably not in your best interest. It earns you the same respect that you would have gotten from sticking a fork into yourself.
Since the vote, reports of racial and xenophobic crimes have increased in England. That tells you a bit about the ones who really wanted to get out of the E. U. At that point, you may want to ask yourself if you want to side with those people. If you have to ask, "Those people are really horrible; am I one of them?" you may want to rethink your position.
You may be wondering what business it is of mine. That's a good question too. Here are your answers. First, as you may have heard, this exit has caused great disruption to the world economy. An economy only works if everyone is playing by the same set of expected rules. When the rules change, people get nervous and stop playing. In this particular case, no one knows what the new rules are going to be yet. It is going to take a while for all of this to settle down.
Second, rises in nationalism, particularly when accompanied by xenophobic violence, has had a bad history on this planet. It wasn't that long ago that perfectly rational people elected One-Nut to power. (Technically they elected his party to power and the party elected him chancellor and things just got a little crazy from there.) It doesn't take much to stampede normal people into wholesale, stupid violence.
The third reason this concerns me is that many of the people who voted to leave have characteristics of loud, angry people in the United States. I have to wonder if this encourages the locals or if they can learn from the Brits. In general, I don't associate learning with these particular people. There is a good chance that we could have a little exit from good sense of our own.
Regardless of where you stand on the Brexit, or the upcoming American elections, you can probably agree that people should do some thinking before they vote. Representative government works best when the voters are informed about the subject or person they are voting on. Fortunately, I have enough nihilism in me to not worry about it too much.
Pathetic Crybaby Shoots up Nightclub
On June 12, 2016, a pathetic crybaby lashed out at the world by shooting up a nightclub in Orlando, Florida, killing nearly fifty people and injuring a little over fifty more. There is outrage about this, of course, because this is just another in a long line of shootings. Some blame the easy access to firearms. Some blame a lack of mental health resources. Basically, people are blaming the things they normally blame. I have another idea.
A few decades back, some people realized that successful people had higher self esteem. This also appeared in children. With the best of intentions, they decided that if the can boost the self esteem of children then the children would become more successful. As a result, children were told that everyone's a winner and there would be no losers. Participation awards became the norm.
Since then, there have been plenty of articles about the Millennials growing up to unprepared for some of the harsh realities of life. Though they are adapting better as word has gotten out that jobs don't pay for self esteem, there are still some issues out there. As with all humans, some adapt better than others.
The Freudian psychologists will tell you that the superego is what defines your concept of where you fit in the world. What's more, they say this image is formed in early childhood, often by the age of five. Imagine that your early childhood is filled with participation ribbons and an artificially enforced level result field (not a level playing field where one's strengths and weaknesses apply). It would tell you that everything should be handed to you so that you have what everybody else has.
Now, that same person grows into their teens and twenties. Nobody is giving you anything and you are seeing, not learning, that there are winners and losers. This world is abhorrent in the eyes of your superego. It is wrong! How do you deal with that? For some, they may struggle with mental health, either with or without treatment. Some may just drift through life, sort of giving up on effort or understanding things. For a few, though, there is a clear way to cope.
This is where the second part comes in. Every time there is a shooting, it is big news. The perpetrators have gone out in a blaze of glory and will be remembered forever. Even dead at the end, these people have done something. To the few people who see a severe conflict between their childhood ideal world and the adult version, this provide the socially mandated way to deal with it.
"Socially mandated?" you ask.
Yes, that is the method we all talk about. That is the thing we all discuss at great length. These shootings fit into the category of Notable Event and that is all one of these shooters need to regain their self esteem. Even when someone says they are only going to talk about the victims so as not to glorify the shooter, they are still acknowledging the shooter's work. You've basically given the shooter the title of One Whose Name Must Not Be Spoken, and that is way cool in the mind of one of these people.
There are only three things we can do to minimize these shootings, and they must be done together. First, start teaching kids that they will be judged on their efforts and that, due to social and economic factors, some of them will have to try harder to get the same results (but they can get results through hard, intelligent work). Second, we need to address the kids who were already told that everyone's a winner and provide them tools to cope and adapt to actual reality.
The third thing is probably the most important and the one that will be the hardest to pull off. We have to remove the positive self esteem factor from being a shooter. It is important that every shooter be described as a pathetic loser who has basically thrown a temper tantrum. Was it a major temper tantrum resulting in carnage? Sure, the shooter did it because he was a loser who just couldn't deal with life like a normal person. We have to make it clear that even the lowest members of society (regardless of how you define that) are more capable of coping with life than one of these crybabies that had to lash out with a gun because they were so pathetic. This is the only way to remove the positive self esteem factor from these shootings.
Unfortunately, there is no way to make this happen. Glorifying shootings is big business for news outlets. Other businesses sell t-shirts and bumper stickers mourning the tragedy. Politicians get a vehicle to spout whatever they typically spout. The general population is titillated by the horror of other people's suffering and the mystery of the culprit. Except for the shooting victims and those closest to them, almost everybody gains something they want from the shootings. That makes it hard to paint the shooter as a loser.
Throwing Your Vote Away
For decades now, the two major parties have told you that voting for a third party was effectively throwing away your vote. The reasoning was that the major party candidates were the only ones that stood a chance of winning, so voting for anyone else was a useless endeavor. Now that the major parties have produced two of the most horrible candidates, the old wisdom may need to be rethought.
Now, it is still extremely likely that one of those two candidates is going to be elected. Voting for a third party candidate won't change any of that. However, if enough people vote for those other parties, it may send a signal that the middle of the road voters are really tired of the extremists in the major parties getting their way.
Ultimately, that is the main issue with the major parties. Hard working, rational people don't have time to be actively involved in parties. This means that the parties are made up of a small part power-hungry politico and filled out with passionate morons. The politicos have found that they can really rouse the rabble with the stupidest of things and so that's what they do. Now both parties are facing major internal divisions and have chosen presidential candidates that worry pretty much everyone who isn't a die hard party member.
I do not belong to a party (my math is too good). There are some things the Republicans want to do that I may agree with, but their attachment to religious extremists keeps me from getting along with them. On the Democrat side, there are things that I like, but the communists and the social justice warriors are just as extreme as any Southern Baptist. That puts me in the middle, and pretty much in line with most Americans.
When this fall's election comes around, voting for one of the appointed Night Mares is the only real act of throwing your vote away. Instead, use your vote to shake up the major parties and see if we can't shake some of their nuts loose.
I Have Been Slack
Wow, I can't believe that it has been a little over three years since my last post to this website. Since the last post covered my mortality, it could have left people wondering a bit. I know it left my hosting provider wondering, and wanting to be paid again. In the interest of saving money, I've decided to move the site to someplace much cheaper. In doing so, I noticed my negligence.
In the intervening time since I donned the mantle of LibertyBob, things haven't been going very well. We are in a presidential race where neither of the presumptive major party candidates are very appealing. In addition, I'm hearing people blame the current president of every calamity since the dawn of man. This is not a good situation. I should probably do something.
Slow down a minute; I'm not throwing my hat into the ring for that job. I know better than that. If the job was imperial god-king for life it would be a different story, but I don't want to be president. A person would have to be nuts to want that. Instead, I'm going to suggest that all sane people try to find an alternative candidate and start working on the mother of all write-in campaigns to get a sane person elected.
"But Your Grace, where ever would we find such a person?" you ask.
That's a mighty good question. We need to find someone who has strong leadership skills, isn't a total jerk, and does not belong to an existing political party. It should be a person who understands law, economics, and media in the technological age. This person will probably have to be Christian in order to be agreeable to most voters in the United States. We should probably try to find a good Methodist; they don't seem too hostile toward any of the other denominations. This person should probably a third or more generation American citizen so we don't have to put up with those birther morons.
That really limits things quite a bit. If such a person actually exists, he or she is probably hard at work doing something useful and is not really worried about running for office. That makes this a real challenge. So, like any good Internet challenge, I want you to run with it. Figure out who you think would be a good candidate and start pushing them to the forefront. Tell us who it is down in the comments so the rest of us can know as well.
If we all pull together, we may be able to find someone who really should be in the Oval Office.