Roots Views of
the World, Politics and News
by Robert L. Baber, Bob@RLBaber.eu
2013 August 2
This web page contains a few views of the world, current politics and
noteworthy events in the news as
seen from the grass roots levels of society — more precisely, as seen
by me. This material may be
updated from time to time.
If you have any comments or questions regarding the material below,
please feel free to contact me by
email at Bob@RLBaber.eu.
An RSS feed file for this web page exists at http://baber.servehttp.com/GrassRootsWorldViews/GrassRootsRSS.xml.
For my contact addresses see http://www.rlbaber.eu
of contents (most recent article first)
14. Whistleblowers: Bradley Manning, Edward
Snowden, Wikileaks, illegal
and immoral acts of governments
13. Thank you, Cyprus: a David conquers some
12. The arrest of the leader of Wikileaks:
setback on the long path to democracy
11. It's time to disband NATO
10. Brief von US Secretary of Defense Robert
9. Women and IT
8. Maintaining and improving one's own
destroying others' countries
7. "Don't confuse me
with facts, my head is made up"
6. Iran vs. the others: Preventing "have not"
acquiring new technologies
5. War brings out the bad on all sides.
4. Do the U.S. and Europe share the same
3. Politicians' 3 Ps, turkeys gobbling and
“do as I say,
not as I do”
2. The Airbus A380
1. Grass-roots Germans' view of the
14. Whistleblowers: Bradley Manning, Edward Snowden, Wikileaks, illegal and immoral acts of governments
The recent disclosures of questionable activities of governments by
Bradley Manning and Edward Snowden have given rise to much discussion
the news media, within and between governments and among normal
public) about these "whistleblowers". These discussions center around
the question whether they
should be hailed as heroes or incarcerated as traitors and criminals.
It seems to me that these discussions miss completely what should be
the main issue: Should it be against the law to disclose illegal or
immoral acts perpetrated by a government or by government officials or
representatives? What mechanisms should be put in place to enable such
disclosures? To whom should such disclosures be made?
Many governments have some mechanisms in place for such matters, e.g.
parliamentary oversight committees and investigatory offices. The news
media also sometimes play these roles, but they are usually severely
limited by local law. Experience clearly shows that these mechanisms do
work adequately. They completely fail to uncover reliably and
completely the worst offenses,
the very offenses that should be uncovered and prevented.
It appears quite clear that Bradley Manning and Edward Snowden have
violated laws of their country, whose government has itself violated
own laws and established norms of humanity. They have admitted
committing some of the acts for which they have been charged. That is
not the important question. The important question is instead, should
laws exist that prevent disclosing the misdeeds of a government and
of a government?
Secondary issues are the all too common double standard and the
tendency of the government of the United States of America to appear to
believe that its laws apply throughout the entire world, or at least
should do so,
and the perception by others that the USA expects other countries to do
what it wants them to do.
"Anyone who sacrifices freedom for security does not deserve either,
and in the long term will have neither." I do not remember who
originated this statement or the statement from which it is
paraphrased. Its validity should be obvious to everyone, especially to
the citizens of that country whose original reason for existence was
purported to be freedom.
Robert L. Baber, 2013 August 2
Thank you, Cyprus: a David conquers some would-be Goliaths
especially in connection with the problems of excessive debts of some
Eurozone countries and banks, I have become very concerned about the
attitudes and policies of many of our politicians. They seem to me to
have their priorities backwards: Instead of putting the people first
and other considerations later, they clearly favor BIG MONEY over
little people — in my view a very anti-democratic policy, a
starkly inconsistent with their obligations to guide societies of
people. After all, monetary systems were created to serve people;
people were not created to serve monetary systems.
Finally, this problem came to a head when certain
European political leaders, including the Chancellor and the
Finance Minister of Germany, proposed that depositors of Cypriot banks
should be called upon to finance a large part of the "bailout". By my
long term understanding, this would clearly reverse the normal order of
bearing a loss when a bank becomes insolvent. Normally, the depositors
and owners of savings accounts would be paid off first, then
bondholders, and finally the owners of the banks in question. I was
relieved and very happy that the Cypriot Parliament rejected this
ridiculous proposal with an overwhelming NO: 36 against, 16
abstentions, and none
Shortly after receiving the news of the rejection by
the Cypriot Parliament, I sent the following email to the six MEPs
(Members of the European Parliament) from Cyprus with a copy to the
the European Parliament.
Subject: Thank you, Cyprus
Date: Tue, 19 Mar 2013 20:58:45 +0100
Dear MEPs from Cyprus,
a German citizen I would like to thank the parliament of Cyprus for
having the good sense to reject the senseless suggestions of so many of
our "distinguished political leaders", who seem to me to have
too little, even no understanding of economics. Equally disturbing to
me was their lack of concern for the legitimate interests of the common
It seemed to me from the very beginning that the
proposal to levy a bank deposit tax was unfair and inappropritate. It
would have set a very dangerous precedent for all EU nations, not
just Cyprus. In my view, such a move should be illegal. If it
not already illegal under EU law, I suggest that the EU parliament pass
such a law to protect citizens of EU countries from their own national
I am also glad to see you put some of our own
German political leaders in their place. I have been quite disturbed by
their proposals in connection with Greece and now, Cyprus.
again to the parliament of Cyprus for stopping what could have become a
very counterproductive and dangerous precedent. A David has conquered
some would-be Goliaths.
I hope that Cyprus will find a good, economically appropriate solution
to the current difficulties.
best regards, Bob
Dr.-Ing. Robert L. Baber, FBCS, CEng, Eur.Ing., VDI
for telephone numbers, addresses, etc. see http://www.RLBaber.de and
for information on my latest book see http://Language-of-Mathematics.eu
Engineering is fun, challenging, interesting and important.
Robert L. Baber, 2013 March 20
The arrest of the leader of Wikileaks: Another
setback on the long path to democracy
I should begin by giving my definition of a democracy and contrasting
it with the more common definition in today’s world.
In a true democracy, the interests of the individual people are
paramount. Members of the government consciously and subconsciously
recognize that their role is to serve the individual people by
coordinating various activities in the society to serve the interests
of the individual people. In short, the members of government are there
to serve the people, not the other way around.
Today, however, governments considered to be democracies are still
characterized by the fact that they rule the people and the people are
there to serve the government. Certain citizens’ rights are
“guaranteed” by certain laws, but the politicians in the governments
still act as if it is their duty to govern, to rule, and as if it is
the duty of the individuals to do as the government tells them, i.e. to
serve the government. The rulers are elected by the people, but once
elected, they rule rather than serve the people who elected them. The
selection of the candidates to run in the elections is often strongly
influenced by politicians already in governmental positions,
effectively reducing the individual people’s role in choosing the
The view that the government’s duty is to serve the “common good” does
not invalidate these comments, because the members of the government,
not the individual people, determine what that “common good” is or
In the millenia long history of human communities and societies large
enough to require a multi-level governmental structure, most have been
governed by leaders exercising strong, authoritative control over the
masses, with the desires and interests of the common individuals
playing at best a secondary role, sometimes no role at all. At various
times during this history, and especially in the last few hundred
years, steps have been taken by groups of people to change to a more
democratic governmental structure. In all cases to date, the changes
actually achieved, while substantial, have not reversed the ruler-ruled
The recent emergence of Wikileaks on the internet is a very significant
step in the direction leading ultimately to truly democratic
government. Its main contribution is to make the common people aware of
what their governments are really doing behind the scenes. This is a
step toward making politicians in governments consciously aware that
they are – or at least will soon be – accountable to the people for all
their actions, not only for those actions they choose to publicize.
The more recent arrest of the person leading Wikileaks is a major
setback on the path to true democracy – which began only comparatively
recently. Such setbacks were, are, and will continue to be
understandable, to be expected and to arise. Those people in
governments will, of course, do all they can to maintain the status
quo, which serves their personal and collective advantage. Currently,
they have the upper hand and can be expected to use it fully. Members
of different governments can be expected to cooperate with each other
in resisting the desires of the masses for a truly democratic
governmental structure for the societies in which they live.
History will undoubtedly repeat itself. The current governments will
win most of the individual battles along the way, but in the long run,
the desires of the masses will prevail. The only question is how long
this process will take. Again, if history repeats itself, no one alive
today will live to experience the full democracy as I defined it above.
By placing obstacles in the way of those leading the way to truly
democratic government, today’s politicians will, ultimately, make
martyrs and future heroes of the revolutionaries – the very people they
are trying to supress and stop.
Robert L. Baber, 2010 December 7
It's time to disband NATO
NATO was formed as a defense pact to counter the threat to Europe
during the Cold War. Its goal has been achieved and it is, therefore,
no longer needed. Therefore, NATO should be disbanded. Celebrate its
success ceremoniously if desired, but disband it.
Many of the countries NATO was intended to protect Europe against are
now members of the European Union and of NATO. This also reduces
considerably the reason for NATO's existence.
NATO is being transformed step by step into a military pact for
offensive operations. Also for that reason, it should be disbanded.
Robert L. Baber, 2008 April 7
Brief von US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates
Heute (2008 February 1) wurde in der deutschen Presse bekannt gegeben,
daß der US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates einen
ungewöhnlich scharf formulierten Brief an den deutschen
Verteidigungsminister Jung geschickt hat, in dem zusätzliche
deutsche Truppen für Kampfeinsätze in Afghanistan gefordert
werden. Daraufhin habe ich die untenstehende Email an verschiedene
höhere deutsche Politiker und die Presse geschickt.
From: "Robert L. Baber" <Bob@RLBaber.de>
Subject: Brief von US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates
Date: Fri, 1 Feb 2008 11:06:16 +0100
Liebe führende Politiker der BRD,
Hoffentlich werden Sie jetzt endlich aufwachen und bewußt
- die USA seit langem mit Deutschland und anderen Ländern
bezüglich Kriegseinsätze spielen und
- Ihre Vorgesetzten die Wähler Deutschlands, nicht die
Regierungsmitglieder der USA sind.
Wenn Sie die Meinungen der Bürger und Wähler zu diesem Thema
erfahren wollen, lesen Sie z.B. deren Meinungen bei
Seit mehr als einem Jahrhundert hat Deutschland mehrmals nur negative
sehr, sehr negative -- Erfahrungen mit Krieg gesammelt. Haben wir
Dr.-Ing. Robert L. Baber, FBCS, CEng, Eur.Ing.
für Telefonnummern, Adressen usw. s. http://www.rlbaber.de
für Information über mein nächstes Buch, s.
Robert L. Baber, 2008 February 1
Women and IT
The trade press repeatedly asks why so few women choose to study and go
into IT (Information Technology) and reports many activities attempting
to attract more women to the field.
Could it be that they are seeking more capable, better qualified, more
professional and more cultured colleagues to work with than they find
in the software field?
Robert L. Baber, 2007 August 23
8. Maintaining and improving
country vs. destroying others' countries
Background: the recent collapse of the bridge in Minneapolis, the Iraq
The cost of restoring the bridges in the U.S. to a proper state over
the next few years has been estimated to be of the same order of
magnitude as the cost of the Iraq war.
I.e., instead of spending that money
the U.S. could have financed the proper maintenance of its own civilian
physical infrastructure. It would certainly have been in the interests
of the general population of the U.S. to have done so. It would also
have been in the interests of the many grass rootsers in Iraq.
- to destroy so much property in Iraq,
- to reduce greatly the standard of living and security of so
- to create millions of Iraqi refugees,
The only possible winners have been some U.S. oil interests, including
those belonging to families of some current U.S. government officials.
The key to understanding the policies of the current U.S. government
toward Iraq in particular and the Middle East in general is, in my
view, to understand the philosophy behind the Order of Skull and Bones:
keep things stirred up and in turmoil. Only then can I explain many
actions of the U.S. government (especially the current one) to myself.
For further information on the secret Order of Skull and Bones, search
Google for: skull bones yale.
Robert L. Baber, 2007 August 16
7. "Don't confuse me
with facts, my head is
When I was a child growing up in the U.S., the lovable but dumb
character Riley in the radio program "The Life of Riley" often
responded to suggestions he didn't want to follow with, "Don't confuse
me with facts, my head is made up."
The current stance of the western countries on the issue of Iran's
uranium enrichment activities reminds me of Riley's statement. Iran has
consistently made it very, very clear to all that it regards enriching
uranium as its inalienable right and that it will not, under any
circumstances, consider relinquishing that perceived right. The western
countries, by restricting their attention to this issue, have
effectively precluded making any progress on the much more important
issue: nuclear weapons. The fact that Iran has repeatedly stated that
it has no intention of developing nuclear weapons should, this grass
rootser would think, be an unmistakeable signal to the rest of the
world that this is a negotiable issue, and perhaps even an easily
By concentrating on Iran and the enrichment of uranium, the western
countries have distracted themselves from a much more imminent threat:
North Korea, which has just proved to the world that it has nuclear
weapons by detonating one in a test this morning.
The western countries have maintained for some time that Iran is lying
regarding nuclear weapons. They claim that Iran really does intend to
develop nuclear weapons. This grass rootser resents that no evidence
has appeared in the world press to support this claim. At least in the
case of the Iraq war, some western countries stated that they had
intelligence information to justify starting the war. That intelligence
information turned out to be false. Now, in the case of Iran's
purported plans to develop nuclear weapons, the western countries are
not even offering us that much "evidence". It is an insult to our
intelligence that they expect us to believe them. Perhaps they are
right, but they might also be wrong again.
Why don't the western countries simply drop the issue of Iran's uranium
enrichment activities and turn instead to the much more important issue
of nuclear weapons development, an issue not contested by Iran? On that
issue the western countries could count on strong support from almost
everyone in the world. Their bargaining position would be very strong,
much stronger than it is now.
Several decades ago it was, it seems to me, clear that sooner or later
the world would have to come to grips with a situation in which many
countries, large and small, would have a nuclear capability, including
the capability to make nuclear weapons. The mechanisms put into effect
to cope with such a situation were obviously appropriate only for the
short term, in which only a small number of mostly large countries had
nuclear capability. North Korea's nuclear test this morning shows
clearly that the time has come to replace these current mechanisms with
much different ones suitable for the long term.
Iran has (probably knowingly and intentionally) painted itself into a
corner on the issue of uranium enrichment, but not on the issue of
nuclear weapons. The western countries have (unwisely and perhaps
unintentionally) painted themselves into a corner on the issue of
uranium enrichment, even though the issue of nuclear weapons is, to the
common people, much more important. By giving in a little face on the
issue of uranium enrichment, the western countries could gain
considerably more face on the issue of nuclear weapons. This is the
only feasible win-win situation I see now.
The common people of the world want and need a world free of nuclear
weapons. Many also want a world free of war, and a world free of
nuclear weapons would be an important and welcome first step.
Politicians have long been known to disregard the wishes and needs of
the common people. I hope that they will not do so again this time, but
I fear that they will.
Robert L. Baber, 2006 October 9
Iran vs. the others: Preventing "have not" nations
from acquiring new technologies
History gives extensive evidence that every new technology is, sooner
or later, acquired by any and all nations that want to acquire it.
General knowledge pertaining to new technology can be kept secret for
only a very limited time. A few countries developed the capability to
generate electricity, and most followed sooner or later. The same thing
happened with explosives, motor driven vehicles, radio, television,
etc. It is clear that, similarly, the nations with the capability to
enrich uranium will, in the mid to long term, find it impossible to
Iran – or
any other nation –
from acquiring that capability if
they wish to do so.
The current conflict between Iran and other nations is characterized by
two monologues and no dialog. Two separate and quite different issues
are, unfortunately, mixed, perhaps intentionally to confuse the public.
One issue is whether or not Iran should be permitted to enrich uranium.
The second issue is whether or not Iran should use nuclear technology
to manufacture weapons.
This grass rootser is convinced that sooner or later, Iran will acquire
the capability to enrich uranium if it wants to do so, and it
apparently does want to do so.
Regarding the second issue, Iran has stated repeatedly that it has no
desire to manufacture nuclear weapons. The other countries do not
believe these statements. Here is the crux of the conflict and the key
to resolving the issue, but neither side has been reported in the
public news to have made any overtures to the other regarding this;
each only repeats its views and its demands on the other.
The most obvious and feasible solution would be for the other countries
to recognize openly that they cannot and will not try to prevent Iran
from enriching uranium and for Iran to give credence to its intention
not to manufacture nuclear weapons by agreeing to completely open
inspection. This would give each side what it purports to want and
would satisfy its stated interests. The fact that neither side has
moved at all in this direction strongly suggests to me that neither
side really wants to resolve this issue. Each is trying to bully the
other. This situation can remain stable, although tense, as long as the
other countries have no convincing evidence that Iran is manufacturing
nuclear weapons. But we remember the "intelligence" that led to the
Iraq war all too well.
Robert L. Baber, 2006 May 31
War brings out the bad on all sides.
The Haditha incident of November 2005 in Iraq, only now coming into the
news, is just one more example that war brings out the bad on all
sides. Such atrocities have been committed by most (probably by all)
sides in every large or long lasting war in the history of human
warfare over past millenia. Almost all people try to identify the "good
guy" and the "bad guy" in such conflicts, but in war there is no "good"
guy and no single "bad" guy in this respect – only worse or
less bad sides.
There is only one way to avoid such atrocities, and that is to avoid
war in the first place.
Robert L. Baber, 2006 May 31
Do the U.S. and Europe share the same values?
The BBC internet news (bbcnews.com) published an article entitled Continental drift – Do the US
share values or are they growing apart? with date line
19 February, 2005, 12:20 GMT.
It seems to me that the answer to the question "Do the U.S. and Europe
share the same values?" is clearly and obviously "No", at least as far
as the current U.S. government is concerned. Many times President
George W. Bush has reiterated the values of the U.S. as being "freedom
and democracy". In addition, the values of the EU go much further:
peace, respect for human dignity, equality, the rule of law and respect
for human rights. Recent events raise considerable doubt that the U.S.
government shares these additional EU values.
It further seems to me that democracy and qualified freedom follow from
the higher EU values cited above. The qualification on freedom is
important. If President Bush means by "freedom" the freedom to decide
when the political leader of some other country should be deposed, the
EU values do not include that sort of freedom. Neither do they include
the freedom to destroy major office buildings in another country.
Neither do they include the freedom to imprison persons indefinitely
without being charged and tried before a court of law. Etc.
Robert L. Baber, 2005 February 20
3. Politicians' 3 Ps,
turkeys gobbling and “do as I say, not as I do”
The polemics, pomp and pagentry in
and political celebrations of U.S. government leaders is becoming ever
reminiscent of the polemics, propaganda and parades of Soviet and other
communist countries' leaders in the past. In this regard, politicians
be like a flock of turkeys I once observed. They made constant gobbling
until my friend or I started mimicing them, whereupon they stopped
soon as we stopped gobbling, they started again. It seemed important to
gobbling noises were made, but by whom, didn’t matter. So when some
stop polemicizing and indulging in pomp and pagentry, others must start.
discrepancies between what many U.S.
government leaders say (e.g. bring democracy and freedom to the world)
they do (e.g. detain people incommunicado and indefinitely at the
Bay prison and even, according to some news reports, at jails within
also seem to be increasing. When I was a child in school in the U.S.,
learned that two of the most important aspects of freedom and democracy
that (1) one is innocent until proven guilty in a court of law and (2)
government arrests someone, it must either charge that person with
and initiate judicial proceedings within a short time (days, as I
recall), allowing the prisoner legal counsel, or
else release that person. The person's citizenship was not a condition
applying this principle. If I were a school child today, I would
any society whose government does not uphold this principle is not
and is not free.
also democracy and freedom are like the
turkeys gobbling. As soon as some countries start practicing democracy
freedom, the countries previously practicing them can stop doing so.
Discrepancies as those mentioned above remind me
of a statement my father
occasionally made to me as a child, "Do as I say, not as I do". But
my father made this statement jokingly, fully aware of its irony and
unfairness. I do not, however, detect any sense of humor or awareness
would be a great shame if the discrepancies between
what U.S. government leaders do and what they say represent steps in
the U.S. relinquishing its most fundamental values – its original
Robert L. Baber, 2005 January 23
2. The Airbus A380
recently announced Airbus A380 is an impressive
achievement, but the sometimes published statement that it is the
aircraft ever built" is not true. The Hindenburg and the Graf Zeppelin
were, being more than three times as long as the A380. The Zeppelin NT,
currently in civilian commercial service, is also longer and wider than
that the Airbus A380 is the
"largest ..." must be appropriately qualified, e.g.
"airplane", or must use some other dimension to measure size, e.g.
load carrying capacity. Not even "heavier than air" is a sufficient
qualification, for the Zeppelin NT is normally slightly heavier than
fact that the Airbus A380 is not the
largest aircraft should not detract from its fame. It is a marvel of
engineering and its construction, of organization. It is making
Robert L. Baber, 2005 January 23
The following is an
email I sent on 2004 December 12:
Germans' view of
the U.S.-European dialogue
To: Mr. Colin Powell, U.S. Secretary of State,
Mr. Joschka Fischer, Außenminister,
Dr. Peter Struck, Verteidigungsminister,
Mr. Gerhard Schröder, Bundeskanzler,
Mr. George W. Bush, U.S. President,
and the editors of several news periodicals
Dear Mr. Powell,
I believe that
the following will help you and your colleagues in the U.S. government
understand the views and perceptions of many common folk individual
and, therefore, of their governments. Without such an understanding,
unavoidable differences will lead to a further deterioration of
mutual respect and communication between the U.S. and Europe.
You were quoted
in a recent news report as saying "We are reaching out to Europe and we
that Europe will reach out to us". If this is meant sincerely by the
U.S. government, most Europeans, myself included, will be glad and we
expect our governments to react positively. If, however, this is only a
thinly veiled attempt to try again to get France, Germany and other
countries to send armed forces into war zones, you and we will all be
disappointed. The best compromise we can expect is that European
might contribute some more personnel to training conducted outside war
e.g. outside of Iraq.
As a German
citizen, I am very proud of the historically unique political
place in Europe today. Europe has finally abandoned its centuries old
tradition of engaging frequently in war. Next year we will celebrate
anniversary of the end of the last war among EU countries. I
believe that this is a new record in European history. We common folk
that this new evolution toward widespread and lasting peace continue.
expect all of our elected officials to continue to work toward making
warfare obsolete in Europe and elsewhere.
If you heard
Bundeskanzler Schröder's speech at the D-Day ceremonies earlier
you know that he never knew his father because of World War II. It is
unrealistic to expect a person with such a personal experience to
advocate or support wholeheartedly his country's engagement in armed
Many European (probably most German) families experienced
comparable personal tradegies as a result of war and therefore
desperately want no
more wars. We are unwilling to be party to inflicting such tragedy on
Many of my
countrymen also share our Verteidigungsminister Dr. Peter Struck's
and frustration at the lack of acknowledgement of Germany's positive
contributions in the recent stages of the Iraq conflict and the
complaint that Germany refused to make "contributions" that most
would have considered to be very negative.
perception, France, Germany and other European nations tried hard to
help the U.S.
before the current Iraq war by encouraging the U.S. not to initiate
action. We do not, therefore, accept the all too frequent complaint
were unwilling to help the U.S. We tried to help, but were unsuccessful.
obviously resent the presence of foreign powers in Iraq. Germany should
therefore, further inflame this sensitivity by its presence in Iraq.
I hope that the
above will facilitate mutual understanding and the future communication
between the U.S. and European governments. With regard to war, the
differences of opinion cannot and will not be eliminated. It would be
counterproductive to try to eliminate them. We must find ways to accept
decisions and live together anyway, as best as we can.
We in Europe
are learning how to do just that among ourselves.
Dr.-Ing. Robert L. Baber, FBCS, CEng, Eur.Ing.
for addresses see http://www.rlbaber.de