Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Facebook Friends and Enemies of Enemies

Hello everyone.

I'm kinda glad the month of August is almost over. It's been in the 80s-90s every day this month, and while that might not seem too bad compared to what people in, say, Texas have been dealing with, we've had only one incredibly brief moment of rain in the past six weeks or so, when it sprinkled for all of three minutes. The rest has been nothing but sunshine. I love sunshine as much as the next person, probably even more so, but the problem is our well is beginning to dry up, and we've lost some of our garden crops as a result. It doesn't help that our neighbor waters his lawn pretty much every single day, and I'm sure he's pulling from the same aquifer we are. Thanks a lot, jackass.

I just want us to have a nice, big rainstorm for a day or two to recharge our water supply and give the plants a good drink, and then we can go back to the sunny weather. I guess I should get used to this as we continue to pump carbon into the atmosphere and the climate continues to change.

It's funny how whenever we get a big winter storm or cold-spell, you often hear inane phrases such as, "So much for global warming," but when Texas has summertime highs in the 100s for two months straight, you don't hear a peep about climate change. People can be really ignorant sometimes.

Rob Happenings

I've been on Facebook for the past five years or so, and I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with it. On one hand, it's quite a time-waster, and it was a big part of the reason I took a hiatus from this blog. I felt Facebook gave me my Internet communication/interaction fix, even though I had to sift through a bunch of crap, such as people inviting me to join them in a game I had no intention of ever playing, or people talking about things I had absolutely no interest in, such as who got voted off American Idol, or what grades their kid got in school. On the other hand, Facebook has put me in touch with old friends, some that I haven't seen since elementary school, as well as putting me in touch with new friends I've never met in person, and overall I think that's pretty cool.

One thing Facebook does is offer "friend suggestions," which, for those of you not in the know, is a list of people Facebook suggests to "friend," meaning you can follow them and they you. Most of the friend suggestions are people who share mutual friends with you. Today, I looked at my friend suggestions and was amazed at the number of people on the list who I was once friends with, which meant that they "unfriended" me at some point.

These are almost all people from high school or before, which means they're people I haven't seen in at least 20 years or so, and my only contact with them has been on Facebook, never in person. So you'd think it wouldn't bother me that these people "unfriended" me, particularly since I generally don't care what people think about me in real life.  But I can't help it--it does bother me. I don't know if it's the nature of Facebook itself in that "friendships" or lack thereof are official and available for others to see, so if someone "unfriends" you, it means they made a conscious decision to do so, and it's hard to not take something like that personally.  Or maybe it's just that it tends to be people I knew from high school, and so whenever I'm confronted with evidence of being "unfriended," I find myself reverting back to my high school mentality, when the most important thing in the world was to be liked and accepted, even by people I might not necessarily like.

I really don't want to care, but I can't help it. It's all very strange to me.

And those who "unfriended me" pretty much across the board held political and/or religious views that were in opposition to my leftist, anti-authoritarian, atheist views, and some even debated me about articles or comments I'd posted. On Facebook I'm pretty open about and willing to express how I see things, so I can only assume my viewpoints and my willingness to share them was ultimately their reason for "unfriending" me. I don't understand this. How weak must a person's views be in the first place if he or she can't handle being exposed to differing ones?

Of course, some people think that discussing politics or religion in a public setting is considered rude and shouldn't be done, but I think that's a bunch of crap. These are issues that affect our lives, so of course we should talk about it.

What a great segue to the next section:


According to a leaked cable, Senator John McCain promised to help Muammar Gaddafi acquire US weapons when the two met a year ago at a meeting that also included Senators Joe Lieberman, Lindsey Graham, and Susan Collins.  A quote from the cable really stood out to me: "Lieberman called Libya an important ally in the war on terrorism, noting that common enemies sometimes make better friends."

Ugh. When are "our leaders" going to learn? Here's a (somewhat) brief history lesson of failed alliances based on common enemies:

During the 1950s, the people of Iran elected a guy named Mohammad Mosaddegh to be its first Prime Minister, and his government took over production of the country's oil. Up until that time the British essentially thought they had a right to pump the oil out of the ground and keep for themselves. In response to this the CIA staged a coup to overthrow the democratically-elected government and installed the Shah, a brutal dictator who imprisoned and tortured thousands of his political opponents during his almost 30 year reign. The Iranian people finally determined they'd had enough and ousted the Shah in 1979, kidnapping 52 Americans in the process.

The Reagan administration then sold weapons to the Iranians in exchange for a release of the hostages, and they then used the profits to fund the Contras in Nicaragua, who fought against the socialist Sandinistas by using tactics such as murder, rape, torture, and kidnapping.  Somehow I think there are better ways to win over the "hearts and minds" of the people you're supposedly trying to liberate.

Meanwhile, despite illegally selling them weapons, the Reagan administration didn't want the Iranians to get too powerful, so they armed their neighbor to keep them in check.  This neighbor?  Iraq, led by a guy you may have heard of named Saddam Hussein.  The two countries ended up fighting an eight-year-long war that left over a million dead.  Later the US ended up fighting Iraq in two separate wars that caused another million deaths.  

While all this was going on, we were nearing the end of the Cold War, thanks in part to the Soviets being stuck in a quagmire in Afghanistan. The Soviets might have had an easier time if they hadn't been fighting the CIA-trained Mujahideen, which included a guy by the name of Osama bin Laden. I wonder what happened to that guy?

Also worth mentioning: Manuel Noriega worked for the CIA until he fell out of favor with the powers that be, and they determined our military needed to invade Panama and capture him in 1989.

And of course, there's Muammar Gaddafi, who was "an important ally in the war on terrorism" until last year, and is now being ousted by rebels supported by our military, and may even be dead by the time you read this.  Someone else will take his place in Libya, and if history is any indication, we'll probably end up going to war with them in a decade or two.

To the best of my knowledge, every war (or military skirmish not officially called a war) we've fought during my lifetime--and there have been plenty--has been against countries or groups we'd previously armed and/or supported, or else were directly caused by us arming and/or supporting someone.  It's all because we've had politicians who believed the mantra, "The enemy of my enemy is my friend."  Perhaps, a more appropriate mantra should be, "The enemy of my enemy will soon be my enemy, too."

Of course, a cynical conspiracy theorist would probably say all of this is no accident, that our government is arming our potential military rivals on purpose so we'll have to fight them later, and this is all a way to justify invading resource-rich countries and spending hundreds of billions of dollars a year on our military.  I'm not ready to believe that yet, but then again, if some people are willing to kill a stranger for the $20 in their wallet, is it really a stretch to think someone might be willing to let strangers kill each other on the other side of the world to secure a billion dollar military contract?

In Closing 

Let's end on a positive note.  Here it is, your moment of Tucker:


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Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've never unfriended someone - and never would because of a difference in political/social beliefs. However, I did block posts by someone (sort of related to me, no less) because his political posts were so extreme as to be offensive. I don't feel like my OTHER (read: normal) friends should have to be exposed to racist, homophobic rants. As I said, though, I do not block posts that disagree with my views that are presented in a reasonable way. I suppose taking this view, you can imagine that someone whose views are so extreme as to prevent them from recognizing anything else as valid might feel that YOUR posts were offensive. In the end, I say: if anyone is that uptight, fuck 'em.

4:06 PM, August 24, 2011  
Blogger Rob said...

Thanks for the thought-provoking comment, Anon.

4:16 PM, August 24, 2011  

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