December 27, 2012

Last posting

... This post last updated: 2014-07-27

A select few posts have been published since the blogs formal ending on on January 29 2009 however, this will be the last posting at American Interests.

As written previously, the blogs content will not be deleted recognising the role it plays in the larger ecosystem of information within blogosphere and broadly, the World Wide Web.

It is hoped that the sites content will continue to serve as a useful archive of information pertaining to the interests of the United States.

Anyone finding themselves here and wanting to comment may still do so via this post or otherwise, may contact me via the email link on the profile page.

Once again, thanks to all my readers.

On a final note, if you are viewing this post on the web, be sure to have a look at the recommended "must read" list to the immediate right, it shall be kept updated.

Comments most welcome.

Otto Marasco

October 3, 2012

The Space Shuttle – A Stunning and Spectacular Tribute to American Ingenuity

In a little over a month, NASA will make its final delivery of a space shuttle for museum purposes. To be precise, on Nov. 2, Atlantis will be transported from NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral to the nearby visitor center. We can look forward to the opening of the Atlantis exhibit in 2013, in a display that will highlight the shuttles history.

October 2, 2012

A Nuclear Iran - How much time ...

Via ISIS - The Institute for Science and International Security

A useful article detailing exactly how much time it would take for Iran to go from being not merely nuclear but weapons capable ...

ISIS has learned in researching and discussing the new National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) on Iran that important differences exist from the 2007 NIE on Iran’s capability to make a nuclear weapon. The 2007 declassified NIE specifically noted that it did not take into account Iran’s “declared civil work related to uranium conversion and enrichment” when assessing the status of its nuclear weapons program. The new NIE does not distinguish between declared and undeclared enrichment activities when considering Iran’s nuclear weapons capability. In doing so, the new NIE more accurately values the impact that Iran’s advancements in its gas centrifuge uranium enrichment program, declared or otherwise, have on its capability to decide to make highly enriched uranium for a nuclear weapon. This acknowledges that Iran’s capability to make highly enriched uranium, as represented by the declared elements of its uranium enrichment program, influences any political decision to make nuclear weapons.

The new NIE includes that Iran could be furthering its development of components for nuclear weapons while reportedly assessing that not enough activity has occurred on weaponization to justify a determination that Iran has made a decision to restart its nuclear weaponization program or build a bomb. 1 Both NIEs judge that Iran had a nuclear weaponization program prior to 2004. Missing in ISIS’s information about the new NIE is the confidence level that the intelligence community has in its ability to detect a restart and the level of detected activity necessary to determine that a restart has occurred. The 2007 NIE judged with moderate confidence that restart had not happened as of mid-2007. It should be noted that this assessment about restart was rejected by key European allies and Israel, which all assessed that Iran was likely continuing to develop its nuclear weaponization capabilities and that its nuclear weapons program likely existed after 2003.
Continue reading here

Click on Iran label below for further reading ...

July 14, 2012

Postmodernism and Critical Theory Resource

In response to my piece, "From radical to liberal Islam – Is intrinsic change possible?" which has been reproduced on this site and, my L Party Blog, I have received notice of a valuable link that serves as a useful resource for those wishing to engage in further exploration of both Postmodernism and Critical Theory. For those that recall it, I attempted to critically analyse whether "change" was possible amongst immigrants in western societies e.g. Britain, Australia and the U.S. Specifically, those who may "harbour radical elements of their faith", and questioning whether too, they would be likely to abandon "such beliefs as they commune within their new society, moving away from considerations of the extreme or moderately fanatical elements of Islamic thought - moving therefore, from radical to forms of liberal Islam?"

I suggest that in the first instance one reads my piece again to understand the how concepts of self in terms of both modernism and postmodernism, work there way into the arguement before exporing the resource.

I have taken the liberty of reproducing the first paragraph from the resource which you will find below, and invite readers to visit the actual resource page, Contemporary Philosophy – Postmodernism and Critical Theory for further reading.

Broadly and variously defined, postmodernism refers to a specific period of time that began in the 1940s, a style of literature, architecture, art philosophy, or the plight of Western society in post-capitalist age. This movement encompasses a set of critical and rhetorical practices employing concepts such as difference, repetition, and hyperreality to break apart or deconstruct other the structural elements achieved through modernism, including temporality, presence, identity, historical progress, epistemic certainty, and meaning achieved through unity. The term “postmodernism” first entered the philosophical lexicon in 1979, with the publication of The Postmodern Condition, by Jean-Fran├žois Lyotard, in which Lyotard utilizes Ludwig Wittgenstein’s model of language games and concepts taken from speech act theory to account for “a transformation of the game rules” for science, art, and literature. For Lyotard, postmodern thought can best be summed up as “incredulity towards meta narratives.” According to Lyotard, postmodernists eschew “grand narratives” that attempt to account for, explain, and compartmentalize human life and history; there is no clearly defined, collective meaning and for the postmodern world, there is no mourning of the loss of meaning because the outcome of one’s own experience and condition will necessarily be fallible and relative, rather than exact and universal.
More here

July 12, 2012

Do not write of the U.S.

Just occasionally, I come across writings that beg for reproduction within blogosphere and Greg Sheridan's latest piece is screaming for exposure further afield on blogs like, American Interests even though the blog is laying dorment for now. Indeed, I have written more than the usual piece on America's capacity to regenerate as a world power and, stay ahead of the pack, so it is fitting to highlight Greg's latest at The Australian

In such globally unstable economic times - words such as flux, fluid, anxious and unstable are getting a solid workout everywhere -- the hardest thing of all to do is to predict long-term trends.

This column, in its fearless fashion, is now going to do just that. Let me give you the headline first: the US will be the leading, probably dominant, global economy emerging out of this period of instability.

Sorting out cyclical swings from long-term, structural trends is a big challenge in this kind of analysis. Here is a cautionary tale.

In 1997 the East Asian economic crisis hit. For a short time it was popular to pour scorn on those (your columnist humbly among them) who had been celebrating the East Asian rise and predicting its continuation. But George Yeo, one of the smartest men in Southeast Asia and for a long time Singapore's foreign minister, at the height of the crisis told me to disregard such naysayers. At worst, the economic crisis would put East Asia's rise back a few years, nothing more.

Yeo was right, as he usually was. I now apply the same spirit of his analysis to the US. It's worth noting, by the way, that through all the magnificent rise of Asia, the US's share of the global economy shifted very little. Amid the ups and downs, Africa, Latin America and Europe declined somewhat as a share of the global economy, the US stayed rather constant.

I don't deny the US is in a troubled moment just now, but I want to offer you, future alarums and temporary reversals notwithstanding, seven reasons why the US will pull through this period and emerge triumphant once more.

The astonishing revival of US manufacturing and exporting. There are many ways to measure manufacturing. If you measure it by employment, US manufacturing appears to be in a small recovery. If you measure it by value, it is starting to boom. This is because of the turn of the cost structure wheel. Manufacturing jobs have been flowing out of the US and into Asia and Latin America for years because US labour rates cannot compete with China's or other developing nations. But guess what? Labour is an ever diminishing part of manufacturing's cost structure. Increasingly, machines are making machines. This plays to US strengths. Bigger costs, given the rise in fuel prices, are transport. Being inside a giant market like the US is a big advantage. A new term has been coined - "insourcing".

The US's flexible industrial relations system also means new manufacturing jobs are being negotiated at competitive wage rates - $12 or $14 an hour or so. This does not provide a comfortable middle-class life, but it's a million times better than unemployment. If you can get healthcare insurance with it, it's manageable.

Moreover, the rise of the Asian middle class means a growing demand for US-style hi-tech exports. As the economist Tyler Cowen argued recently: "The leading categories of American exports today - civilian aircraft, semiconductors, cars, pharmaceuticals, machinery and equipment, automobile accessories, and entertainment - are going to be the sweet spot of growing demand in what we call the developing world."

In 2010, US exports to China grew by 32 per cent. It might not be a huge amount of jobs, but it will be a huge amount of dollars. Watch this trend very closely.

Then there is energy. God may just be an American after all. All this shale oil, and the new technologies to extract it, mean that at anything above $US70 a barrel the US has commercially viable oil reserves that dwarf those of Saudi Arabia. Fracking, the technique to extract this oil, has its problems but this is a giant development. Not to mention the massive gas discoveries.

The status of the US dollar as the world's reserve currency, and main currency of trade, is not remotely threatened. The euro, the only candidate to compete with the dollar, is in desperate eclipse. This status gives the US all kinds of institutional advantages. It might end one day, but not for a long, long time.

The US has the most effective competitive federalism of any nation in the world. Wisconsin, of all places, passed quite tough industrial relations laws designed to improve productivity and competitiveness. There was a massive reaction and an effort to recall the reforming Republican governor. But the voters of Wisconsin endorsed the changes.

With all the talk of US political dysfunction, this is one of the most powerful competitive advantages the US political system has. States force an element of good policy on each other by innovating successfully and attracting investment, and prosperity, away from their neighbours. Competitive federalism works in the US.

Both the size, and the composition, of the US's demographic dynamic is superior to any other developed country in the world, and superior to most developing countries, too.

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See also my 2008 piece "America will remain strong"