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'Chicken 457, cleared to land and proceed to roost.'

Remember......

This is Dark Cloud on Wednesday, January 02, 2002.

It is time to follow-up.

Do you recall it was only two years ago that all the predictions of Y2K horrors afoot were shown to have been hysteria, and I asked that we all remember the names of the organizations and individuals who posed as selfless Cassandras and tried to scare the living hell out of us, and that we remember so that we not automatically believe them again? Remember Y2K? It wasn't all displaced, self-assumed alpha males trying to emphasize their survival capacities in right wing, ring worm Militias. A great deal of it was hypocritical sniping from out of work, generically anti-corporate activists on the left just back from the Seattle Boondoggle and actually hoping for capitalistic disaster to justify their existence. There were others. At the going down of the sun and in the morning, I'll remember them for you.

Today, we enter the second year of the new Millennium concerned about a nuclear exchange between Pakistan and India, and a spreading economic meltdown in Argentina, where the third head of government in about ten days has admitted that the state is bankrupt and that it'll get worse before it gets better. That took some courage, but it is likely the best possible spin that could be put on the truth. Argentina, which only twenty years ago invaded The Falklands and waged a pointlessly brave but inept war against Britain, is the first South American country to emerge into the Age of Democracy from fascist warlords and make a serious go at representative government and, even before South Africa, have public discussions of the past designed to heal old wounds. The discussions were often daft, and people in power tried mightily to cover up the stories of those who simply vanished. They mostly succeeded. But the impetus was there and sizeable numbers of Argentines were willing to let bygones be bygones in exchange for a whiff of truth and a plan for the future. They didn't get it, mostly because the society is based upon, by North American standards, corruption. In fact, the military heirs of Peron started the Falklands War to divert attention away from their massive thefts, and the expense of the war was added to their debits. Here is the pain of democracy in the land of Evita. People thought they could vote themselves wealth with deferred payments and thought they could tolerate a little off the top to the honchos. Well, now the piper needs to be paid, and he ain't named Zamphir.

Beneath the Caucasus and the Himalayas are the nations of Pakistan and India. Pakistan is mostly Islamic and India mostly Hindu, but it has actually more Muslims than Pakistan and about twelve times the population. Both nations want Kashmir, a lovely province with the national border down its middle. Pakistan has fought three wars with India over Kashmir, and one with its former province of East Pakistan now called Bangladesh, and lost them all. Pakistan is both comically incompetent and dangerously buffoonish. Other than the fact it wanted to be an Islamic state, it has no coherent reason to exist. Its natural resources are spare, the main reason it wants all of Kashmir. It has a higher general literacy rate than India but a poorer per capita population. It supported the Taliban and Al Qaeda because they were a source of cash. Both the United States and Pakistan are portraying the military dictatorship as a willing partner of the United States in the war on terror, but the reality is, Pakistan's military is composed almost entirely of old American equipment, and without a pipeline for replacement parts, which is to say the good will of the United States, it is toast.

I suspect the Bush Administration's negotiation with Pakistan consisted entirely of a list of demands, including angle of leap with exact altitude requirements, and they have obeyed. Well knowing this, Al Qaeda inspired the attack on the Indian legislature with the hope that India would attack Pakistan, perhaps in concert with the United States, to unite the Islamic world against the West. Al Qaeda seems delusional in thinking that there is any sort of coherent Islamic World. In any case, the slaughter of duly elected representatives is hardly an inspiration to the poor anywhere, especially those who hope, someday, to elect their own to government.

Pakistan and Argentina share some chronic qualities: mass delusional thinking, self-pity, blustering military, and incompetence. They both, historically, have blamed outsiders for their ills. This time Argentina cannot, and to its credit isn't trying to. Pakistan, which could have thrived if it had remained part of India, may be headed to a dark night of the soul itself. It is an ally of the United States in a cause it does not emotionally favor at a time when a contrived war with India is brought about by its larval care of the Taliban and the harboring of Al Qaeda, who resents losing the puppeteer's control of the government. Its problems were brought upon itself, and there is no wiggle room.

In that regard, it resembles the United States, whose accelerated dependence on foreign oil is the case study in its own march of folly.