Keith Olbermann’s Countdown: Geopolitical Implications of the Faisal Shahzad Incident


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Here is an exchange I had with Keith Olbermann yesterday on MSNBC’s Countdown on what the broader geopolitical implications of the Faisal Shahzad case may be.

— Steve Clemons


23 comments on “Keith Olbermann’s Countdown: Geopolitical Implications of the Faisal Shahzad Incident

  1. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Speaking of “radicalization”, I see these nazis in Israel have embarked upon building fourteen new housing units in East Jerusalem, the timing coinciding with press releases lauding the “positive” beginning of proximity talks.
    This is the typical manner in which this charade is acted out. The scum leadership in Israel works diligently to derail any positive inroads towards actual negotiations and progress, while publically offering propaganda aimed at painting themselves as charitable humanitarians working towards peace. These people are TRULY despicable. The one positive aspect of how evil these bastards are is the openness with which they exhibit it. Held unaccountable for far too long, they have grown overconfident with a sense of invulnerability. The rest of the world is catching on, and seeing Israel for what it has become. How far into this shithole of racism and purposeful oppression are we going to allow Israel to drag us?


  2. Paul Norheim says:

    What are you talking about?
    Obviously I didn’t try to “explain” Islamic radicalization – or the
    wealth of nations or the origin of malaria for that sake.
    I just tried to express one single unmentioned perspective (out of
    several relevant ones) – if this had any connection with the drone
    attacks. Nothing more, nothing less.
    Yes, I avoided the ideological and political aspects – not because
    they are irrelevant, but because they are mentioned everywhere.


  3. nadine says:

    “If the reports are true, Faisal Shahzad attempted to answer a
    very simple but urgent question: How do you fight drones? This
    question has a military aspect, but also a human one: How do
    you hurt the enemy who hurts you?” (Paul Norheim)
    So, what was the Taliban’s reason for supporting Al Qaeda back in the days before 2001? back in the days when the US left them quite alone?
    It’s amusing watching you practically stand logic on its head to avoid noticing the rather obvious ideological component – can you say “Deobandi Islam”? — to the story.
    At least you’re not trotting out the old stand-by, “poverty and illiteracy” to explain the Islamic radicalization of this well-off, well-educated, naturalized, seemingly assimilated Pakistani young professional.


  4. erichwwk says:

    of course in terms of “global bankruptcy, I meant in terms financial. One can certainly bankrupt oneself morally or in real terms. Real wealth can indeed be destroyed, as one can see with Deepwater Horizon.


  5. erichwwk says:

    Of course one could make a similar debt restructuring argument for the US (or the entire global elite).
    For every dollar owed, their is a dollar owned. Their is no such thing as a bankrupt globe.
    The global financial elite have been quite successful since Reagan and Thatcher in shifting wealth from the poor to the rich.
    Have we reached the tipping point where Manur Olson’s “roving bandits” have to give some (much) back to even HAVE opportunities to extort wealth from the population at large, much less maximize them? Or will Greed be ridden to the bitter end?
    Are we again to repeat the mistakes Keynes warned about in his “The Economic Consequences of the Peace” that led to fascism and WWII?
    “The modern conservative is engaged in one of man’s oldest exercises in moral philosophy; that is, the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness.” — John Kenneth Galbraith


  6. erichwwk says:

    Thanks, Paul Norheim.
    there is also this:
    It is not too late for Europe
    Barry Eichengreen
    7 May 2010
    EU and IMF efforts to rescue Greece have failed to stabilise Europe’s financial markets. Now there are significant concerns about Spain and Portugal’s financial circumstances. This column says Europe needs to wake up, face the facts, and take action. It outlines what the IMF, ECB, and Eurozone members need to do to prevent the crisis from spreading. It may be too late for Greece, but it is not too late for Europe.
    European leaders and the IMF have badly bungled their efforts to stabilise Europe


  7. Mr.Murder says:

    How could embezzling/trade scandals be hyperbolic to terrorism?
    Money laundering funds the stuff, usually from a overflow of funds somewhere else.
    See also Colin Powell’s money to Afghanistan as a peace bribe on behalf of venture oil before 9-11.


  8. Mr.Murder says:

    Shahzad ever live in England? His attempt may have swayed a few votes around there….


  9. marcus says:

    Shahzad was the runt of the litter and did not live-up to his fathers expectations-does that ring a bell,Paul.


  10. Dan Kervick says:

    “Germany has simply not behaved like a responsible global citizen and it has not lived up to the obligations that it has as one of the wealthiest nations on earth.”
    Here, here.


  11. WigWag says:

    “More challenging, in my opinion, is the question: If we dug deep enough would we find out that the financial tricks play on the Greek public by the financial sector was “akin to terrorism?” (Jonst)
    While the question you pose, Jonst, may be hyperbolic, I take your point.
    I actually agree with Erichwwk and Joe Stiglitz that the crisis confronting Greece is every bit as much the fault of the Germans as it is of the Greeks.
    Germany has simply not behaved like a responsible global citizen and it has not lived up to the obligations that it has as one of the wealthiest nations on earth.
    Germany’s economic model which focuses on exports while discouraging domestic demand is in many ways far worse than China’s. After all, China is a poor nation trying to develop as quickly as it can. While its export driven policy is objectionable, it is at least understandable. Why wouldn’t China want to recapitulate the strategy that Japan used so successfully to recover from the economic calamity of World War II?
    Of course there are historical reasons for German economic proclivities as well; the hyperinflation that resulted from the Treaty of Versailles and the destruction of virtually all German infrastructure during the Second World War has not surprisingly led to German fears of reliving their impecunious past. German frugality is easy to understand and even to sympathize with.
    But there’s no question that this frugality led the European Central Bank to reduce European interest rates to unnaturally low levels. After all, extraordinarily low interest rates were necessary to entice German consumers to spend and without this spending a recession in Europe with the related increases in unemployment would have been impossible to avoid.
    But the same low interest rates needed to prop up aggregate demand in Germany resulted in speculative bubbles in housing in places like Ireland, Spain, Portugal and Greece; these same low interest rates deluded relatively poor European Governments into thinking they could finance generous social spending through debt almost forever (a problem faced by the United States as well)
    Had Germans been less frugal, interest rates never would have gotten so low and the burst bubbles that are being mopped up in places like Greece might never have developed.
    Anyone who doubts that this scenario is true should look at German (and French) behavior during last year’s financial crisis. As financial markets and economies collapsed all over the world, it was incumbent on wealthy governments to do everything they could to prop up world demand. The Administrations of Barack Obama and Gordon Brown stepped up to the plate. Massive Keynesian deficit spending literally saved the world’s economy.
    Where were the Germans (and French) when the Americans and British were making this historic effort?
    They were missing in action.
    And now American and British taxpayers are stuck with the entire bill and will be for generations while the Germans squawk about how fiscally responsible they are. Of course, but for the actions of Obama and Brown, the German economy would have fallen off the same cliff as all the other economies of the world. But the German reaction to the economic calamity was the same one they offered during the Cold War; they decided to be freeloaders.
    Of course the Greeks are not blameless in all of this, but the crisis they are experiencing had its roots in Germany every bit as much as it had roots in Greece itself.
    As the Germans contemplate the loans they are about to make to Greece they should remember the famous line of Cassius,
    “The fault dear Brutus is not in our stars, but in ourselves.”


  12. jonst says:

    Wig Wag wrote: “Wasn’t the murder of three innocent people in a bank building by an angry Greek mob akin to terrorism?”.
    Akin, yes. Have to know the exact details to answer with any certainty. But “akin”? For sure. But that is the easy question.
    More challenging, in my opinion, is the question: If we dug deep enough would we find out that the Financial tricks play on the Greek public by the financial sector was “akin to terrorism”?


  13. Mr.Murder says:

    The best way to make these areas change is to unravel the economic realities woven into present geopolitical landscapes.
    Become renewable so the oil barons have no choice but to moderate government and transform economically.
    We have less domestic refinery capacity than was available in the 1950’s. This bottleneck the supply sector to inflate prices. We still send oil out of country to an extent it keeps domestic prices high despite making leases from public lands.
    We’ve had the ability to get 60mpg on carborated vehicles since the 1950’s as well. Eisenhower wanted to name the MIC as part of the MIPC. Military Industrial Petrochemical Complex.
    Fortunately the Nixon backers helped shave his scalding speech down in a key word or phrase….


  14. PissedOffAmerican says:

    I used to tune into Olberman when you were a guest Steve. But now that the asshole is pumpin’ the “You gotta be a bigot if you’re against illegal immigration” bullshit, he can go screw himself. Preferably in Ensenada.
    Tell Olberman I know of a couple of local burgs I’d suggest he have an evening stroll in. If he gets out alive, then we’ll sit down and have a nice little chat about illegal immigration.
    And the next time you see him or Rachel, give then a map of the Middle East, and point out that Iran and Syria aren’t the only countries there.
    Fox News/MSNBC, Rush Limbaugh/Keith Olberman, whats the difference? NOTHING. They’re just partisan hacks, puking out the party line like good little parrots.


  15. Paul Norheim says:

    Re. Greece and Europe (and the debt ridden planet in general):
    “The financial crisis isn’t over by a long shot, but has only
    entered a new phase. Today, the world is no longer threatened
    by the debts of banks but by the debts of governments,
    including debts which were run up rescuing banks just a year
    The banking crisis has turned into a crisis of entire nations, and
    the subprime mortgage bubble into a government debt bubble.
    This is why precisely the same questions are being asked today,
    now that entire countries are at risk of collapse, as were being
    asked in the fall of 2008 when the banks were on the brink:
    How can the calamity be prevented without laying the ground
    for an even bigger disaster? Can a crisis based on debt be
    solved with even more debt? And who will actually rescue the
    rescuers in the end, the ones who overreached?”
    This is from an excellent article, translated to English, in the
    German weekly magazine Der Spiegel – a long, scary, but sober
    article, detailed – starting with Greek and the European/German
    context, and then expanding to the global context, with focus
    on US and Japanese debt in particular.
    The whole article is really worth reading, in my view.,1518,693317,00.


  16. Paul Norheim says:

    If the reports are true, Faisal Shahzad attempted to answer a
    very simple but urgent question: How do you fight drones? This
    question has a military aspect, but also a human one: How do
    you hurt the enemy who hurts you?
    The drone as a weapon breaks the old logics of war, because
    the real enemy (from the perspective of those who get hit) is
    out of reach. For those with drones in their arsenal, they
    seemingly represent the ultimate protection. Somewhere there is
    computer geek, some non-combattant employed by the CIA or
    who-knows-who, sitting comfortably and 100% protected at an
    undisclosed location, steering these expensive and lethal
    gadgets with remote control.
    So, if you are the target, how do you fight the enemy?
    You have to find a place where he is within reach. You have to
    find his weak spots. And if your concrete enemy is absent; if
    you are fighting NOBODY in the immediate sense; if your enemy
    is no longer a soldier, a warrior, but still involved in a war,
    killing your people – then civilians become an obvious surrogate
    in the absence of a pilot, a real warrior, a real enemy.
    When you add – to this very basic and general level – family and
    relatives and friends killed as “collateral damage”, and also the
    fact that this is usually taking place in countries where endless
    revenge, tribal wars and blood feuds are deeply rooted in their
    culture, nobody should be surprised if someone throws a bomb
    into a crowded area in the country of the enemy, or starts
    assassinating politicians, businesspeople or others of the same
    nationality as the enemy.
    One party fighting with their soldiers, risking their own lives,
    while the other one fights a soldier-less war… Isn’t that too
    good to be true?
    If this incident was the first one related to the use of drones,
    you don’t have to be a prophet to predict that it will not be the
    last one.
    The more America implements it’s obsessive dream of total
    protection in war an peace, the more it’s adversaries will hit it’s
    soft spots, and the more ordinary civilians will pay the price on
    behalf of the geek with his remote control.


  17. erichwwk says:

    Joe Stiglitz on the Euro:
    Steve distributes – Views on the Global Economy: Your Daily Briefing Prepared by Daniel Mandel.
    It had that article plus ones by Simon Johnson, Nouriel Roubini, and Kenneth Rogoff as well on Greece/ Euro.
    If Wigwag is interested in this topic she might consider including some other views.
    I did not react as favorably to the Walter Mead article, finding most of his “five must dos” a bit “out there”, and his sense of how global economic components interact lacking.


  18. WigWag says:

    For those who might be interested, Walter Russell Mead did a great post on the Greek debt crisis on May 1st. The title of his post is “The Greek Tragedy Unfolds.”
    Like everything Mead writes, it’s quite smart.
    Here’s the link,


  19. JohnH says:

    In terms of blow-back, I’m more worried about the hundreds of thousands of expertly trained GIs suffering PTSD…


  20. Dan Kervick says:

    “The truth is that today I’m pretty out of it, stomach flu.”
    Was it something the White House correspondents fed you?


  21. cat says:

    Who got this guy a green card? How did his wife’s
    parents become citizens?


  22. Steve Clemons says:

    Wig — yes, indeed. The truth is that today I’m pretty out of it, stomach flu. Have been watching the 1000 point drop and rebound in the markets. I agree the Euro sector crisis is huge…but need a clearer head to think it through than I have today. Just out of juice at the moment. best, steve


  23. WigWag says:

    So many posts on Islamism, Bin Laden, the Middle East and Faisal Shahzad and so few on a calamity likely to be even more consequential; the coming disintegration of the Euro zone.
    Wasn’t the murder of three innocent people in a bank building by an angry Greek mob akin to terrorism?


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