Archive for the 'Interviews' Category

Harry Reid, Idiot

While my opposition to modern liberal left politics is pretty clear, I generally feel that name calling is rarely needed, or warranted. I certainly do not believe that any particular ideology is more or less likely to have virtuous people, whether we are speaking of kindness, generosity, bravery or integrity.

I also don’t believe that any party or ideology is represented by more intelligent or educated leaders and intellectuals. That being said, I have for quite some time made an exception when it comes to a few people. On the libertarian side, the puppet who speaks, when it comes to mendaciousness and general ideological nuttiness. On the left side of the aisle Harry Reid. He is either one of stupider men to ever hold office, or mendacious in a way that is so totally incompetent that it is almost inconceivable. He makes Bush, Kerry, Quayle and Gore look like absolute geniuses, or maybe straight talkers. I have no idea what is behind much of what he is saying here, stupidity (though it gets my vote above) or some weird attempt at Soviet style New Speak, but this video has to be seen to be believed. Hat tip: McQ via The Lonely Conservative.

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Scrambling for Africa: A Conversation with John Ghazvinian

Niger Delta Oil Shell oil venting
Gas flaring in the Niger Delta (photo: Ellie)

John Ghazvinian is a journalist and historian of considerable insight into African affairs. He also happens to have written one of the best recent books on the emergent international struggle for African petroleum: Untapped: The Scramble for Africa’s Oil (the paperback edition is due out in April). Whilst being an enormously valuable investigation of a very serious issue, it is also a page-turning and literate adventure into exotic and dangerous places. Indeed, one that’s practically impossible to put down once you’ve picked it up.

As John writes therein, since 1990 the oil industry has invested $20 billion in oil exploration and production in Africa, with $50 billion more planned before 2010. Over the next five years Chevron alone is devoting $20 billion in investment for Africa. Taken collectively, this exercise represents the largest commercial investment in African history. But such a spectacular windfall for some of the world’s most impoverished countries can be a poisoned chalice, where the brutal economic forces of the so-called “resource curse” hollow out states, eviscerate agricultural economies and break traditional cultures.

Populous and promising Nigeria for example, is one of the oldest and most well established oil producing countries in Africa. But with the expansion of Nigeria’s oil extraction industry, she has seen only the systematic erosion of her economic and civil society. As well as witnessing the transformation of her oil bearing region in the Niger Delta (one of the richest in the world), into a vast social wasteland of extreme poverty, rapacious crime and guerrilla warfare. As John notes, “Nigeria” is now a shorthand expression in Africa for what everyone with oil desperately wants to avoid.

John took some time out of his morning yesterday to sit down with me for a telephone interview. We were able to discuss a variety of subjects related to issues raised in his book. Including among other things, US oil supply diversification, the political consequences of offshore exploration in the Gulf of Guinea, the resource curse and rentier states, instability and post-nationalist militancy in the Niger Delta, oil field subculture, the labor problem, Chinese energy strategy in Africa and the difficulty of talking about Africa “without lapsing into sanctimoniousness” (as John puts it in the preface of his book). As I did, I believe you’ll find this to be a rather rewarding and unconventional discussion.


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The Green Party and National Security: An Interview with Alan Augustson

A few weeks back I posted a facile little rebuke aimed at the national security implications of Green Party presidential candidate Alan Augustson’s political platform. Alan responded to this in such a way that I realized I had little idea what the Green Party’s position on security matters was, relative to its environmental policies. Indeed, rarely have I seen anyone even ask Green Party figures questions about this subject.

In continental Europe, Greens are expected to have a broad agenda on all conventional political issues from foreign policy, to funding for the humanities. However in the United States, Greens seem to have been ghettoized into answering questions solely on subjects like global warming or genetically engineered foods. This has the natural effect of marginalizing them into niche political interests within the broader Left. A Left that the media seems quite content to have dominated by the Democratic Party alone.

So, toward a better education in the broader politics of Greens, Alan was kind enough to sit down with us for a short interview on security policy.

From the outset, it should be noted that Alan is a fierce critic of current US security policy and naturally his ideas won’t find much agreement with me, or among postpolitical’s predominantly conservative audience. But I think you’ll agree with me that we managed to ask some fair questions and the interview turned out to be an interesting and instructive exploration of a radically different political perspective.


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Venezuela Under Socialism: An Interview with Manny Lopez

Manny Lopez, editorial columnist for The Detroit News, recently returned to Venezuela after a nine year absence. He filed a striking piece from Caracas which caught my and a lot of people’s attention. It illustrated better than most reporting I’ve read on the subject, just how substantially the country had changed under president Hugo Chavez’s rule. He graciously granted our friend Lee Garnett at Postpolitical and I an opportunity to interview him about his thoughts and experiences:


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