Barry Soetoro

Nov 6th, 2008, in Opinion, by

Barry Soetoro aka Barack Obama’s Indonesian connection.

Former Menteng student now US President

Obama Barack has been democratically elected President of the US.

Quite an about face for the best democracy money can buy, in view of the Bush presidential se-lection.

But of course, corruption, collusion and nepotism is the sole monopoly of the Third World – or so the deluded denizens of the West repeat to themselves as they hug their knees, rocking back and forth – reminding themselves of how they uphold human rights equally across the board, entirely devoid of double-standards and totally oblivious to race, creed or religion.

Barrak Hussein Obama II was born to a white American Ann Dunham and Kenyan Barrak Hussein Obama Snr, in Nyang’oma Kogelo now in Kenya.

Here the Indonesian link starts.

Ann Dunham married in 1967 Lolo Soetoro, a Javanese, whose own father, in 1946 was killed along with his eldest brother were killed, after which the Dutch army burned down the family’s home. Soetoro fled with his mother into the countryside to survive. Incidentally yet more proof of Dutch war crimes – delibrate destruction of civilian property outside the scope of battle.

Pak Lolo Soetoro was an army geologist then later a government relations consultant for Mobil Oil. Obama describes Soetoro as well-mannered, even-tempered, and easy with people.

Barry Soetoro in Indonesia with mother Ann Dunham, step-father Lolo Soetoro, baby-sister Maya Soetoro-Ng.

From age 6 to 10, Obama lived in Jakarta. Age six, Obama attended the Catholic Primary St Francis di Assisi. Much was made of the lie he was educated in a Madrassa – or more accurately a pesantren – this of course was totally untrue. Obama Jnr later attended Model Primary School, Menteng and was registered as a Muslim – as his father was Muslim.

In Obama’s own words:

In the Muslim school, the teacher wrote to tell my mother that I made faces during Koranic studies. My mother wasn’t overly concerned. ‘Be respectful,’ she’d say. In the Catholic school, when it came time to pray, I would close my eyes, then peek around the room. Nothing happened. No angels descended. Just a parched old nun and 30 brown children, muttering words.

One of “Berry’s” childhood friends was Adi who often visited “Berry’s” 16 Jalan Haji Ramli house. Speaking volumes of Dutch “development” at the time the road was of this established middle-class neighbourhood was a dirt lane where Obama used to wile away the hours kicking a soccer ball.

Adi recalled Obama and his friends wore plastic bags over their shoes to walk through the muddy street during the rainy seasons.

Neighborhood Muslims worshiped in a nearby house, which has since been replaced by a larger mosque. Sometimes, when the muezzin sounded the call to prayer, Lolo and Barry would walk to the makeshift mosque together, Adi said.

His mother often went to the church, but Barry was Muslim. He went to the mosque,” Adi said. “I remember him wearing a sarong.”

Obama spent most his spare time hanging out with Adi and other friends at the home of Yunaldi Askiar, a classmate. They used to play a kind of fencing game using sticks, kick a ball up and down the narrow dirt lanes or go swimming in the river behind the school, said Askiar, 42, a car mechanic.

Obama was taller and better dressed than most kids in classes where shoes and socks were still luxuries, so he stood out from the start. As an African American, and the only foreigner, he suffered racial taunts and teasing but never turned to violence.

“At first, everybody felt it was weird to have him here,” Israella Dharmawan, his first grade teacher said. “But also they were curious about him, so wherever he went, the kids were following him.”

His friends enjoyed playing tricks on Berry: Harmon ASki recalled,

“Sometimes we’d say, ‘Barry, do you want a chocolate?’ And we’d give him a chocolate. The next day we’d give him a chocolate again. The third time we’d give him terasi (fermented shrimp paste) wrapped up like chocolate. Obama didn’t get mad. He would laugh it off.”

Ann Soetoro moved to Yogyakarta, while Obama Jnr studied in Jakarta. She was inspired by Jogja village industries, which became the basis of her 1992 doctoral dissertation.

“She loved living in Java,” said Dr. Dewey, who recalled accompanying Ms. Soetoro to a metalworking village. “People said: ‘Hi! How are you?’ She said: ‘How’s your wife? Did your daughter have the baby?’ They were friends. Then she’d whip out her notebook and she’d say: ‘How many of you have electricity? Are you having trouble getting iron?’ ”

Dunham-Soetoro became a consultant for the United States Agency for International Development on setting up a village credit program, then a Ford Foundation program officer in Jakarta specializing in women’s work. Later, she was a consultant in Pakistan, then joined Indonesia’s oldest bank to work on what is described as the world’s largest sustainable microfinance program, creating services like credit and savings for the poor.

Obama in Hawaii with Maya and Ann and maternal grand-father, shortly after leaving Indonesia.

In his tellingly-titled Memoir, Dreams from My Father, Obama describes his Indonesian interlude as “one long adventure, the bounty of a young boy’s life”. But he also recalls being troubled by the poverty around him: “the empty look on the faces of farmers the year the rains never came,” and the desperation of the disabled beggars who came to the family’s door.

“The world was violent, I was learning, unpredictable and often cruel,” he writes. Obama and his mother thus we were very well acquainted with the harsh realities of indigenous Indonesians.

Fermina Katarina Sinaga, recalled yojhng Obama in her class: in the common task of class to write an essay titled “My dream: What I want to be in the future.” Obama “wrote ‘I want to be a president,’ ” she said. During a later writing assignment on family, he wrote, “My father is my idol.

The Indonesian connection for Obama and all that shaped him proving once again all things Javanese and indigenous Indonesian the bedrock for the towering monuments built on the foundations of a great civilisation.

1,046 Comments on “Barry Soetoro”

  1. Arie Brand says:

    I agree that war is to be avoided but what if you have no other choice

    “Choice”has to do with weighing alternatives – and that was probably a bit too complicated for Bush the Lesser.

  2. Oigal says:

    Well you may have point about the treasure in Iraq Ari although not one personally I agree with. Whilst the coalition may have set the conditions for looting by have a crap after party plan it was the Iraq nationals who did the looting. Bit like the nonsense claims the US has killed zillions yet nary a word on the cowards and their bombs in markets etc.

    However that’s moot, the biggie is treasure and the Tailban, these are cultural vandals of the worst kind although we do have the milk sop version here in Indonesia.

  3. Arie Brand says:

    Oigal, with the word “treasure” I didn’t refer to the stuff of the Iraqi museum or similar artefacts but to financial loss in general – in the first place that of the US.

    E.T., I found it interesting that Brzezinski , when asked by Charlie Rose whether presidents made adequate use of the information that comes to them from all sides, answered that it was his impression that generally they are “not sufficiently open to sustained discussion of alternative perspectives”. Apparently he was called in, with other former national security advisers, to have a chat with Rumsfeld. He advised to perform the strictly necessary military operations against Al Qaeda and Taliban and then to get out – and avoid at all costs to hang on there to introduce democracy or engage in similarly chimerical undertakings. These last few words are mine.

    The man will be 84 this year and has studied this kind of stuf for over half a century. Let me give the link again:

  4. Arie Brand says:

    financial loss in general – in the first place that of the US

    Why in the first place? Not, I hope, because I am blind to the havoc created in the countries concerned but because we are discuassing, I thought, the rationality,or otherwise, of the US undertaking. And this can only be judged in its own terms.

  5. ET says:

    Arie Brand

    It’s an interesting link and I do agree that the coalition shouldn’t stay longer than necessary in Afghanistan, unless like I said here before they want to keep their equipment in the area as a measure to keep Iran and its nuclear ambitions in check. On the other hand, as far as Bush is concerned, presidents may decide to go to war but its funding is still decided by Congress. So one can hardly put the blame on his person alone. And besides it is the Obama administration who decided to escalate and send more troops.
    I am the last to defend the position that the US should be the bringer of democracy to the Middle East – see also my comments on the intervention in Lybia – or any other country, although from a security point of view democracies are the best guarantee for keeping the peace. But keeping the peace always requires a policeman, a role that the US as the world’s biggest economy and military power – maybe nolens volens – has historically been put upon its shoulders.

  6. Arie Brand says:

    But keeping the peace always requires a policeman, a role that the US as the world’s biggest economy and military power – maybe nolens volens – has historically been put upon its shoulders.

    Well apparently this policeman badly lacked another policeman to watch him. I can’t think of any other country that has undertaken so many military adventures in the last half century as the USA.

    Correct me if I am wrong but the last time it did anything positive for peace was when Eisenhower stopped England, France and Israel from attacking Egypt. Well, all right, Carter played a positive role in getting Egypt and Israel to bury the battle axe.

  7. Oigal says:

    Is that not what a policeman does ..get involved in other peoples fights? As spurious as it sounds, the US does because she can and normally with the best intentions if not results.

    It’s a bit like the strange claim you will hear from the brainwashed that no Muslim country has invaded another country in recent years forgetting Kuwait, Iraq and Iran, Iran and well anyone she can bully, Indonesia and East Timor (Papua).

  8. Yaser Antone says:

    Its so strange to see the world from the perspective of a brainwashed man named Oigal.

  9. timdog says:


    although from a security point of view democracies are the best guarantee for keeping the peace

    Although it’s hardly a liberal position to take, can you imagine how Pakistan would have fared had one of it’s venal, nominally elected politicians been in power, rather than General Musharraf in 2001?

    Personally I think Pakistan was more of less condemned to eventual carnage the moment that those planes hit the towers, but for at least six years Musharraf did an absolutely remarkable job of answering America’s impossible asks without his own country imploding. As recently as 2007 Pakistan was remarkably stable.

    Of course, in the end, he went dictatorially mad: it all started to come apart with the Lal Masjid seige, after which Musharraf fell out with the judges. Like most long-serving politicians, Musharraf did slide into some kind of meglomaniac sociopathy in the end (as, of course, do most democratically elected ones too – try Thatcher, Blair, Indira Gandhi, Berlesconi for a start). But for the bulk of his career he almost certainly ranks as the wisest and most capable leader Pakistan has ever had – despite being technically a “military dictator”…

    But I’m pretty sure Pakistan would have gone to pieces within 12 months had a democratically elected idiot like Sharif, Bhutto, or god help us, Zardari, had been in power on 11 September 2011…

    I suppose my point is that a weak democracy in an unstable country with poor rule of law is certainly not “the best gauruntee for keeping the peace…”

  10. Oigal says:

    Ah Yasar, is that the rebuttal? Frankly I was hoping something more but expecting little.

    However, for anyone else the previous comments should not be taken for support for the war in Iraq. Personally (contrary to popular belief) I am what you would call a shattered conservative with right wing leanings. When the lads decided its off to Iraq we go to fight a dictator, I thought “well it’s a long way to go and there is lots of a/holes closer to home if we really need a fight however this WMD sounds serious and they would not commit millions/trillion plus lives unless they were sure” Ooops..major loss of faith

    Then of course, we have the the grotesque mutation of the conservative movement in the US to a bunch of religious loons with major battles being fought in schools for creation nonsense to be taught as a science! When the best the US Conservative movement can throw up (literally) is a Newt and a Mormon venture capitalist (gold plates indeed) then its time to hop off that band wagon.

    As yourself what scares you most, the Taliban or religious nuts in Iran and the USA both with nukes..meanwhile we have the serial plunderer China playing the evil Dr Foo Man Choo throughout SE Asia…

    I cry victim..I have no time for over bearing nanny states so loved by the left but my traditional right of centre places of refuge have been taken over by intolerant loons and religious morons.

  11. Oigal says:

    I suppose my point is that a weak democracy in an unstable country with poor rule of law is certainly not “the best gauruntee for keeping the peace…”

    We talking Pakistan or Indonesia…?

  12. berlian biru says:

    Correct me if I am wrong but the last time it did anything positive for peace was when Eisenhower stopped England, France and Israel from attacking Egypt. Well, all right, Carter played a positive role in getting Egypt and Israel to bury the battle axe.

    Defeating Soviet Communism and liberating half of Europe from imperialist occupation and tyranny don’t count for much in your books I see.

    That’s apart from the eleventy gazillion bazillion dollars it has firehosed in foreign and humanitarian aid and its massive expenditure on technological, medical and military advances which mean that the world today is experiencing, even with all its current problems, an era of peace, prosperity and good health unparalleled in the history of mankind.

    What did the Romans ever do for us eh?

    Ye’ll miss ’em when they’re gone.

  13. timdog says:


    We talking Pakistan or Indonesia…?

    As I’ve said many times before on this forum, I consider the loose talk of hyperbules who would have it that Indonesia is a “failed state” ludicrously over the top. When it comes to stability and rule of law it is a million miles away from the likes of Pakistan. It also tops India by a very long way in those stakes too; India just has much better PR officers in the global media…

    So in short, democracy isn’t actually a problem in Indonesia.

    It does have to be said, however – and again, this isn’t a very liberal thing to say – that nationwide the most concerted and organised and far-reaching development came during the reign of… um… a dictator.
    The literacy (I know I always go on about it, but I really do think it’s a miracle, especially when you compare Indonesia to India), the puskesmas and schools and electricity cables in farflung villages, the solid (if corrupt) state structures…
    It sure as sh*t wasn’t Bung Karno who did that, and I don’t think Megawati or SBY had much to do with it either…

    It’s an asside, but something that’s always intrigued me is the nature of the New Order’s core ideology. The regime was, of course, founded on the bodies of an awful lot of dead communists, and its stated values were avowedly of the right (though the nationalist rhetoric was far less inclined to fascism than that of “left-leaning” Sukarno). The economy was clearly run on right-leaning priciples (of the worst kind, it must be said), but the actually model of the way the rest of the state was run was, well, it was kind of old-fashioned left-wing: paternalistic, a vast civil service, state-provided and funded health and education and infrastructure pushed out to the poorer parts of the country. The idea you often come across in Indonesia that “the government should do something, build us something, give us some money” is frequently tagged to some rose-tinted nostalgia – “Things were better under Suharto, discipline was better blahblahblah…”

    I guess this all links to what I see as the weird problem in Indonesia’s democratic discourse: so much of the rhetoric seems to be aching to burst out into good old-fashion rabble-rousing leftism. “The People” are everywhere in every bit of sloganeering, and they are generally having something demanded for them (from the state, for free)). And yet, of course, no one can actually back this stuff up with any bone fide political ideology… I suppose Indonesian is a kind of artificially post-ideology political entity. Now to throw another Sunday-morning-idle-consideration into the mix, I’m actually surprised that political Islam (which is by its very nature, ideological) has made so little headway in that void. Nature – into which catagory society probably falls – abhors a vacuum, so it says something about Indonesia that it seems to have prooved resistant to that particular vacuum-filler (and it has prooved resistant to it, despite what the shrills would claim).

  14. Arie Brand says:

    It seems to me that the US has lost control over its Middle East policy a long time ago, since about Kennedy.

    Eisenhower still had enough international political clout to call a halt to the British/French/Israeli assault on Egypt. But Kennedy tried in vain to get some grip on Israel’s attempts to produce the bomb. It is a story worth telling particularly in view of the stink Israel is presently making about allegedly similar attempts by Iran. I haven’t found a more informed account of it than the book by the Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Seymour Hersh “The Samson Option” (Faber & Faber, 1991). Here I will provide an extract of pp.93 – 113 of the book.

    American Jews had lavishly supported Truman’s 1948 campaign but were far more hesitant to do this for Kennedy, because of the reputation of his father.
    Those who kept those particular purse strings had a meeting with him during his campaign.

    Hersh writes:

    …it was a prominent Bostonian, Dewey D.Stone, who set the tone with the first question, as recalled by Feinberg: “Jack, everybody knows the reputation of your father concerning Jews and Hitler. And everybody knows that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree”. Kennedy’s response was to the point: “You know, my mother was part of that tree too”

    Anyway he got the money. But he wasn’t grateful. He complained about it to a close friend, Charles L.Bartlett, a newspaper columnist. Hersh writes:

    As an American citizen he was outraged” Bartlett recalled, “to have a Zionist group come to him and say: “We know your campaign is in trouble. We’re willing to pay your bills if you’ll let us have control of your Middle East policy.” “ Kennedy, as a presidential candidate, also resented the crudity with which he had been approached. “They wanted control,” he angrily told Bartlett.

    He tried to do something to prevent similar situations in the future. During his first year in office he appointed a bipartisan commission to look at ways to broaden “the financial base of our presidential campaigns”. The proposals went nowhere.

    There was, however, another factor: though the Jewish vote depends on a very small percentage of the population apparently its influence can in some cases be decisive. Hersh writes:

    a higher percentage of Jews (81 percent) voted for Kennedy in 1960 than did Roman Catholics (73 percent); it was the Jewish vote that provided Kennedy’s narrow plurality of 114,563 votes over Nixon.

    Ben Gurion visited the US in May 1961 and had a private meeting with Kennedy. It was not an unqualified success. Hersh again:

    The most memorable moment for Ben-Gurion came when he was leaving the hotel room. Kennedy suddenly walked him back inside to tell him something important


    It was a political message.

    I know that I was elected by the votes of American Jews. I owe them my victory. Tell me is there something I ought to do?” Ben-Gurion had not come to New York to haggle about Jewish votes. “You must do whatever is good for the free world,” he responded.

    Kennedy who looked even younger than his then 44 years did not impress Ben-Gurion. He complained to Abe Feinberg. Hersh:

    “There is no way of describing the relationship between Jack Kennedy and Ben-Gurion,” Feinberg said, because there was no way B.G. was dealing with JFK as an equal … He had the typical attitude of an old-fashioned Jew toward the young. He disrespected him as a youth.” There was an additional factor: Joseph Kennedy. “B.G. could be vicious, and he had such a hatred of the old man.”

    Well yes, but it would require a somewhat warped vision of the world for the prime minister of a state smaller than Belgium and (then) a population smaller than that of New Zealand not to recognize the president of a superpower as an equal.

    At any case he had said to JFK: “You must do whatever is good for the free world.” Well, as it so happened, Kennedy thought that one of the most important things he could do for the free world was to stop nuclear proliferation and Soviet nuclear tests. He suspected, in spite of Israeli denials, that Israel was on the verge of producing the bomb and that this

    could threaten Middle East stability as well as the President’s strong desire for a treaty with the Soviet Union to ban the testing of nuclear weapons in the atmosphere.

    Ben-Gurion flatly refused however to have an inspection of Israel’s nuclear site Dimona. Kennedy had replaced Allen Dulles as head of the CIA by a tough minded Republican, McCone, who advised him:

    “Write him a stiff note. Mention the United States’ international obligations and our suspicions of the French (then still the main arms supplier to Israel – AB). Lay it on the line”. The President followed McCone’s advice and received what he perceived as yet another rude response: “Ben-Gurion in effect said, “Bug off, this is none of your business …”

    Kennedy did not relish to be addressed in part of his exchanges with the old man as “young man”.

    But there was not much he could do about this attitude. There was domestic pressure as well by his erstwhile financiers:

    The message was anything but subtle.: insisting on an inspection of Dimona would result in less support in the 1964 presidential campaign. This message, Feinberg said, was given directly to Robert S.McNamara, the secretary of state, and Paul H.Nitze, then a senior defense aide: “I met with them together and said, “You’ve got to keep your nose out of it.”

    Nevertheless Ben-Gurion ultimately allowed an inspection, partly to undercut the “newly emerging anti-nuclear community inside Israel” but mainly in return “for the Kennedy administration’s decision in mid-1962 to authorize the sale of Hawk surface-to air missiles to Israel.”

    But there were not going to be spot checks. Visits had to be announced well in advance. And Ben-Gurion took no chances:

    The Israeli scheme, based on plans supplied by the French, was simple: a false control room was constructed at Dimona, complete with false control panels and computer- driven measuring devices that seemed to be gauging the thermal output of a twenty-four-megawatt reactor (as Israel claimed Dimona to be) in full operation. There were extensive practice sessions in the fake control room, as Israeli technicians sought to avoid any slips when the Americans arrived …
    The American team, following a pattern that would be repeated until the inspections came to an end in 1969, spent days at Dimona … but finding nothing. They did not question the fact that the reactor core was off-limits and gave no sign that they were in any way suspicious of the control room.

    Now of course the whole world knows that Israel has a nuclear arsenal but it is still Israeli policy not to acknowledge its existence and it has not signed the Nuclear Proliferation Treaty. In American political discourse any reference to the existence of this Israeli arsenal is, if it is made at all, regarded as gauche.

    The story about this tail wagging the dog has many chapters. I have tried to cover some of these (but not this one yet) all over the place.

    It should be said that some analysts, of whom Chomsky is the most influential, deny that the US is sent to perform Israel’s dirty work. He believes that the US’s imperial designs are in close accordance with Israel’s policy. There seems to be some truth to this if one looks at the political conceptions of a certain group of neocons. I wrote somewhere else three years ago

    Netanyahu presented in 1996, in a speech to the joint session of the U.S.Congress, the fundamentals of a neocon policy paper called ‘Clean Break’ … as his policy. This doctrine, tinkered together by Richard Perle, Douglas Feith, David Wurmser and his wife Meyraw, aimed at redrawing the map in the Middle East by ultimately getting at Iran.
    The main milestones along this path were getting rid of Saddam Husein and, subsequently, attacking Iran, after first eliminating potential proxies such as Hezbollah and Hamas. Also, Israel had to make a ‘clean break’ with the Oslo accords of 1993 to regain the strategic initiative.

    Well he still seems to be on script. His attempt to get the US on the same page is rightly worrying people like Brzezinski though he tactfully didn’t mention Israel by name.

  15. timdog says:

    I thought you weren’t going to talk about Israel, Arie 😉 …

  16. Arie Brand says:

    It’s like King Charles’s head, Timdog. It keeps popping up, and with greater relevance than that head. It is virtually impossible to discuss US policy in the Middle East without talking about Israel, it would be like the proverbial Hamlet without the Prince.

    Incidentally, is there anything else you have to say about that post?

  17. Arie Brand says:

    Defeating Soviet Communism and liberating half of Europe from imperialist occupation and tyranny don’t count for much in your books I see.

    B.B. I was talking about peace, literally the non-existence of armed conflict, not “democracy” or “liberty” or whatever else we fancy has come about in Eastern and Middle Europe.

    As far as ‘defeating Soviet communism’ is concerned: it is at least arguable that without that defeat the two Gulf Wars would not have come about. For those who need these things to be spelled out (and I fear that you are one of them), this is not an argument in favour of Soviet tyranny.

  18. timdog says:

    Incidentally, is there anything else you have to say about that post?

    Only that I agree with it, and generally share your sentiments on Israel (which are tempered only by the fact that I enjoy the company of virtually every Israeli I ever meet).

    But I get this awful, awful sense of soul-crushing weariness every time the topic of Israel comes up, the weariness of a man facing an insurmountable object…

  19. Arie Brand says:


    I have a rather different reaction. No weariness at all. In spite of my advanced age I can still get fired up when I am confronted, once again, with a piece of disinformation about Israel. I do get weary, though, about having to repeat myself. Happily I hadn’t written about this particular topic before. Anyway, we were talking about the Middle East. No question is more important there today than Israel’s plans re Iran.

    Incidentally, did you know about Israel’s trickery with that Dimona site? If so, from what source?

    This being an Indonesian site, I would also like to say something about your last post on Suharto. Sorry, but it seemed a bit redolent of the old line on Mussolini’s Italy (“he made the trains run on time” – he didn’t you know).

    Suharto’s Indonesia , it seems to me, had some of the qualities of the later stages of the old colonial regime, though it was infinitely more cruel and corrupt. You will say that the colonial regime never took care of education, a topic that seems to have your particular attention. One day I hope to devote a separate post to that ,”with particular attention”, as they say, to the differences between British and Netherlands India.

    The Orde Baru had also this in common with the colonial regime that it stifled any independent development of political life. Ben Anderson who is very well informed about Indonesia (about which SEAsian nation is he not well informed?) was once asked: “What similarities are there in today’s political culture with those of the New Order?” His answer was:

    The system is ruled by a dictator with an oligarchic system, sharing the spoils, no opposition. They know that as long as the spoils are divided and everyone is asked to participate, the oligarchy is safe. No member of the oligarchy has had the courage to break away and do something different. Perhaps this will change when there is another economic crisis.

    Another factor for change, he thought, might be the appearance of a whole new generation on the political scene – a generation without any personal experience with the Orde Baru.

    I have spent the greater part of this beautiful Sunday behind my computer. So I am going off air.

  20. Oigal says:

    Well no one can say I didn’t get my monies worth with that little sentence throw away…

  21. berlian biru says:

    “Things were better under Suharto, discipline was better blahblahblah…”

    You talking to my missus again timdog?

  22. berlian biru says:

    Rubbish Arie the world has never been so peaceful as it is now and it has achieved that peace through US hegemony and the crushing defeat of the Soviet Union.

    That peaceful era is passing as US power ebbs away, I wonder will your grandchildren have such a prejudiced view of the United States’ role in the world post 1945 when they find the Caliphate, Greater China and assorted mobs of warlords, pirates and robber barons control the world’s sea lanes, communications and technology.

    Ask how the Romanized Britons felt after the Roman centurions went home.

  23. timdog says:

    You talking to my missus again timdog?

    I only wanted to convince her that Farah Quinn was hot, BB, but she wanted to talk about politics… 😉

  24. Oigal says:

    At the risk of another provoking another “its the joows” page burner. I see today the Iranian Religious Nutbag in Chief has again vowed “to remove the cancer that is Israel from the world”.

    Curiously and maybe its just me but I can see why those people might be a tad concerned about religious fruitcakes getting Nuclear Weapon capability and no its not the same as other nations who already have the capability. The concept of MAD is not a deterrent when you expecting 72 glowing virgins in the afterlife.

  25. Arie Brand says:

    Rubbish Arie the world has never been so peaceful as it is now

    Tell me the source you get your news from BB. I need cheering up a bit having noticed lately that my morning coffee does not do the trick for me anymore.

    Ask how the Romanized Britons felt after the Roman centurions went home.

    You seem to know the answer do you? Unfortunately, Collingwood & Myres, the authors of “Roman Britain and the English settlements” (one volume in The Oxford History of England) do not. Their last sentence is:

    … If we leave the subject with little more than a blurred impression in our minds we can none the less maintain that that blurred impression represents more faithfully than any clear-cut picture the spirit of the age that we have been trying to understand.

    What we do know is that when the Roman troops were withdrawn, around 410, the “natives” were quick in kicking out their civilian administration as well. Perhaps this finds part of its explanation in the following paragraph in Gollingwood & Myres where they discuss the origin of the many peasant revolts under the Roman administration:

    The underlying cause of these recurring peasant revolts … was the contrast not in wealth alone but in security, between rich and poor. The great landowners were favoured by the incidence of taxation, and could pass on their burdens to the poor. The legal and administrative system of the late empire favoured economic tyranny. It was in the power of a rich man to deprive a poor man of all he possessed; and Salvius gives examples where the power was exercised without power and without appeal … it needed only the occasion of a barbarian inroad to convert exasperated peasants into Bacaudae (the Gaulish name for peasant rebels AB) and bring into existence wandering bands of broken men, escaped slaves, and despairing debtors.

    These were of course prey in the lowest depths of the fiscal food chain. But it is not inconceivable that there were many more victims, below the Roman top, of the “economic tyranny” C.& R. are talking about.

    These coloured pictures of Roman villas and bathhouses don’t tell us that, do they?

    What happened when the Roman administration was booted out after the Roman troops were withdrawn? Did the country fall into chaos until the arrival of the Saxons? C.& M. answer this question as well:

    We already know that the British tribal authorities were capable of managing their own affairs. The beginning of Saxon govt. is therefore not the same thing as the end of Roman. There was most likely an interval between the two when the government was neither Roman nor Saxon but British.

    Wikipedia too assures us:

    The traditional picture of Romano-British society in post-Roman Britain as being besieged and chaotic is also being increasingly challenged by archaeological evidence.

    So what did “ordinary post-Roman Britons” (if we are allowed for the moment to believe in the existence of such a beast) feel about the departure of the Romans? The tribal authorities that had taken over from the power that was perhaps inspired their feeling: these foreigners were a band of lousy exploiters and you are much better off under us.

    Or is this surmise inspired by another “decolonization” story here, that of the country you are living in?

    To return to those coloured pictures of Roman villas and bathhouses, the Pax Romana in Britain had at any case that to show for it.

    Was there ever a Pax Americana in the Middle East? I don’t know how to switch to your “Good News Source”. The sources I have to make do with make me believe that a lot of the turmoil there is due to American policies. As I argued before, these have been at least since Kennedy unduly influenced by the concerns of a third party. The way presidential candidates are now falling over themselves to swear fealty to it speaks volumes. Was there ever such a scene between heaven and earth?

    At any case there won’t be any splendid pictures of the things this “Pax Americana of your imagination” leaves behind. Ruins are not photogenic.

    Oigal, those 72 virgins … Ah well, I have thought better of it.

  26. Arie Brand says:

    I used to occasionally listen to interviews with American soldiers who were busy with establishing the ‘pax americana’ during the Iraq war. One bit sticks in my mind. It came from a soldier who, according to the reporter, was standing amidst the 4,000 year old remains of Ur. He said this (as I said, it sticks in my mind): I come from a small town back home, but even we have in our main street KFC at one end and MacDonald at the other. These people here have nuthin’.

    Now there was competition for those Roman baths and villas …

    If you would find it in some anti-American story you would call it a cheap shot.

  27. berlian biru says:

    Tell me the source you get your news from BB. I need cheering up a bit having noticed lately that my morning coffee does not do the trick for me anymore.

    Really? You think we are living in a particularly violent time in human history do you? You don’t get out much do you Arie?

    May I inquire how old you are? I’m nearly fifty and when I was growing up wars all around the world were the staple fillers of the nightly news. I recall in the seventies and eighties the Middle East, almost all of Africa, most of Latin America and large chunks of Asia were engaged in significant conflicts.

    I’m not talking about conflicts were the occasional car bomb went off every few weeks, I’m talking about hum dingers of wars leaving tens of thousands dead, with massive amounts of military hardware being used.

    We’ll pass over how the world looked for my parents and grandparents.

    All this was quite apart from ghastly famines and rampant disease wiping out millions.

    We don’t have much of that any more do we? We seem to concentrate on a couple of low-intensity conflicts that have actually declined substantially in the past few years involving US troops but the rest of the world is remarkably peaceful.

    Health standards have risen in quite phenomenal ways as have standards of living for ordinary folk. A few years ago a significant threshold was passed when the WHO announced that more people in the world suffered from obesity than malnutrition, think about that, for the first time in human history having too much food was a bigger problem than not having enough, amazing.

    And who to thank for this benign scenario, the Russians? Nope, the Chinese? You kidding me? Europe? Pah! The Arab world? Rolls eyes, India? Think again.

    But hey Americans are all just global bullies, thickos who know of nothing other than MacDonalds and KFC. By the way Arie who developed that internet thingy you posted your reply on?

    Those dumbass Yanks by any chance?

  28. Arie Brand says:

    May I inquire how old you are? I’m nearly fifty and when I was growing up wars all around the world were the staple fillers of the nightly news.

    Yes you may. I have just turned seventy six. I was four when the Germans bombed Rotterdam, in May 1940, about 7 kms from where we were living. We could see the flames on the horizon through our garret window. I lived through the German occupation including the famine in Western Holland at the end of it. I was eleven during the first Dutch ‘police action’ (agresi militer belanda) in Indonesia, fourteen when the Korean War started, eighteen when the French were beaten at Dien Bien Phu (an event that the paper where I then worked as a cub reporter related in great detail), thirty one (if I remember correctly) with the North Vietnamese Tet offensive and the Six Day War, thirty eight at the Yom Kippur War etc.

    In short I have witnessed these things for a lot longer than you and I am amused by your attempt to suggest that, compared to all this earlier turmoil, we are now living in a golden era of peace. One horrific war with a horrific aftermath has just ended – another one is still going on, and a third one, probably more horrific than these two combined, is on the horizon.

    By the way Arie who developed that internet thingy you posted your reply on?

    I don’t know. Wasn’t it the Irish?

  29. Oigal says:

    I come from a small town back home, but even we have in our main street KFC at one end and MacDonald at the other. These people here have nuthin’.

    Yea actually it is a cheap shot and something I would expect from one our ignorant fire breathing Imams here Ari. Soldiers of any nation are not generally noted for their appreciation of the fine arts that said there would many that would astound and amaze. Frankly, though I often disagree with your perspective (let’s be honest, it has a distinct tilt) taking a quote like that hardly proves anything. To bring back locally, I would suggest the average American has a reasonable idea of his nations history which is more than can be said for the average Indonesian. As for cultural, insular morons do we really need to discuss the Taliban or any of the hard line Islamist groups (to be fair you could throw Christians in there as well but by and large they have had their teeth pulled by secular governments).

    One must agree with BB (as SE Asia is slowly realising), a world the the US ascendent is much preferable to one with China ascendent as that particular beast is already showing its claws and complete disregard for national sovereignty.

    Oh and its common sense to think that Mutually Assured Destruction doesn’t work when one side thinks it has God/Allah preparing the beach house in advance.

  30. berlian biru says:

    One horrific war with a horrific aftermath has just ended – another one is still going on,

    Two low-intensity conflicts, which in the scale of what you describe having witnessed in your life time would be considered minor sideshows, and that’s what convinces you the world is in violent turmoil.

    Try some perspective Arie.

    Yea actually it is a cheap shot and something I would expect from one our ignorant fire breathing Imams here Ari. Soldiers of any nation are not generally noted for their appreciation of the fine arts that said there would many that would astound and amaze.

    To quote George Orwell,

    “People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf.”

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