The Executive Director of Human Rights Watch, Kenneth Roth, summed it up rather astutely today, saying…
“It seems Washington and European governments will accept even the most dubious election so long as the ‘victor’ is a strategic or commercial ally.”
HRW released its World Report for 2008 (.pdf) today, which includes the following…
“In 2007 too many governments, including Bahrain, Jordan, Nigeria, Russia and Thailand, acted as if simply holding a vote is enough to prove a nation ‘democratic’, and Washington, Brussels and European capitals played along.
The Bush administration has spoken of its commitment to democracy abroad but often kept silent about the need for all governments to respect human rights.”
That is, of course, accurate. While praising fledgling democracies in Afghanistan and Iraq, both of which were ushered in by US military interventions, very little is said about those nations in which elections are held that are basically little more than electoral performances.
Of course, there is a reason for it…
“HRW said the West was often unwilling to criticise the autocrats for fear of losing access to resources or commercial opportunities, or because of the perceived requirements of fighting terrorism.”
The irony of the War On Terror is that, while its supposed mandate it to promote democratic growth and stability to thwart those that support or employ terrorism, those at its helm have little problem using it as a justification to do business with suspect governments that are willing to join the crusade. In exchange they receive access to markets, natural resources, and, of course, the ability to cut lucrative arms deals. In the end, true democracy is not promoted, only the appearance of it for the sake of influence.
The losers? The people, of course.
I hate Tom Brady…
It is patently unfair… honestly… I mean who decides these sorts of things…? looks, talent, brains, charm, athleticism… how does one guy score tens in every one of those categories while yours truly would struggle for a COMBINED score of ten…?
Is there some kind of genetic lottery I wasn’t clued in on? Is this the reason I’m alone, up at four a.m. staring at super scratcher tickets in my boxer shorts? Whoa… too much information…
Let’s do a quick review of the ubermensch known as Thomas Edward Patrick Brady Jr… Early in the 2002 season, New England’s starting quarterback Drew Bledsoe was clobbered with such extreme violence that he bled internally… Coming off the bench, Brady immediately gained legendary status when he led the Patriots the rest of that season all the way to a Super Bowl victory over the heavily favored (and far superior) Rams in 2002.
By the way… That is the ONLY Super Bowl prediction I have gotten wrong in the past 15 years… I still have a bee in my bonnet over that one…
So ok… Brady is the stuff of legend, right? So the stars were perfectly aligned and he made the best of his one shot… surely he’ll fade away into relative obscurity, right…?
Nope… the sumbitch won the whole shebang in 2004, and again in 2005… and then last season, without as much as one half decent wide receiver on the roster, he almost took the Pats to the promised land again…
Bottom line… he’s good… very, very, very good… the bastard…
So impressed were the Patriots ownership with Brady’s 2006 achievements, they went out and signed the best receiver in football… Randy Moss… along with two more very good ones, Wes Welker and Donte Stallworth… and the rest is history… 18-0, 50 touchdown passes and Giselle Bundchen between the sheets…
Yup… that’s his GIRLFRIEND… (What…!? Would you have preferred I post another picture of Brady?) Hey… I’ll say this about her… at least she is smart enough to demand Euros instead of U.S. funny money…
So hey… I wonder what they talk about… or if they even speak…? Do these perfect physical specimens whine to each other about their presumed imperfections? Does Giselle complain that her beauty spot isn’t quite the right shade of ruby red lust? Or does Tom bitch that one of his molars doesn’t quite line up with the other? Or is the entire relationship based upon engaging in anatomically perfect sexual acts…?
mmmmm… anatomically perfect sexual acts… ( in Homer Simpson’s voice)
Tom Brady has got to be some kind of lab-engineered cyborg, or perhaps a Manchurian Candidate… planted by the Russians… Damn that Putin… trust me… this Brady guy isn’t going to stop with football… he is going to run for president someday… as a Republican…
Oh I think I’m going to be sick…
And the name… Tom Brady… could it get any more wholesome and apple pie? And you know what really sticks in my craw? The bastard is HUMBLE!!! He never takes credit for any of his achievements, always acknowledges his teammates AND takes the blame on the incredibly rare occasion of a Patriots loss…
How many more Super Bowl rings does he need? With the Patriots talent base, they could reasonably win another two or three championships… They have almost no weaknesses as they are two deep at every position… And so well coached that when injuries occur, the backups melt into the starting lineup without any significant drop-off in performance…
Actually, in terms of depth the Patriots have only one positional weakness… quarterback… if Brady goes down it is up to the untested Matt Cassell… why the Patriots would have left that one all-important position so vulnerable is beyond me… Knowing this, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Giants take the occasional cheapshot at Brady to knock him out of commission… it is essentially the Giants only chance at victory…
Every year I sit down, pull out the calculator and do this secret little mathematical formula I’ve devised that is almost foolproof in predicting the Super Bowl winner…
I’m not gonna do it this year… really now… what is the point?
Everyone knows the Patriots are going to win… hell… even the Giants know the Patriots are going to win…
I can tell you with absolute certainty that I haven’t been so sure of a Super Bowl winner since I picked the Rams over the Patriots in 2002…
Yes… I know… this last picture was completly unnecessary… but it just felt right…
A few things to mention while I slip in and out of consciousness due to this ridiculous cold that I’ve caught.
The situation in Kenya remains precarious. Both Mwai Kibaki and Raila Odinga have agreed to begin negotiations, so let’s hope it leads to something substantial.
In Afghanistan, the Upper House of Parliament is supporting the death sentence of a journalist for blasphemy (the distribution of an article insulting to Islam). During last night’s State Of The Union address, President Bush went out of his way to paint Afghanistan as a budding democracy full of hope and new possibilities. It shouldn’t be overlooked that this is the very same democratic government that is supporting the death of this journalist based on religious grounds. It seems eerily familiar with regards to the actions of another Afghan group, doesn’t it?
In the US, while the Federal Reserve cut interest rates for the second time in nine days in an attempt to avoid a recession, both Rudy Giuliani (R) and John Edwards (D) have both dropped out of the Presidential race. Their departures signal what will probably be the last two withdrawals before Super Tuesday.
The second half of the Winograd report was released today and it looks like Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is going to politically survive its implications.
Some 100,000 Liverpool FC supporters from around the world are launching a bid to buy back the club from its current American owners – and good on them for it.
From Tom Engelhardt comes Looking Up: Normalizing Air War from Guernica to Arab Jabour.
And lastly, US Attorney General Michael Mukasey reminds us why he’s the perfect man for the job – the inability to actually suggest that he doesn’t think it would be appropriate for him to “pass definitive judgement” on the legality of waterboarding.
I Have A New Favourite Band
I realize that I’m late to the party, but last night I finally got my hands on the first season of the Flight Of The Conchords (site hasn’t been updated since June of 2006).
In my opinion the show is utterly brilliant, but what is even more brilliant is the music produced for it. While it might be comedy based, the writing is, in truth, outstanding – that is, those songs that are original and not based on the songs of others (such as their parody of West End Girls).
There’s just something about the show’s entire situation and how it’s conveyed by the primary characters that is extremely refreshing to me.
Today is my best friend’s 40th birthday. I’ll not launch into a massive accounting of why Rod is my best friend, as many of the reasons are ones that remain between he and I alone, and that are, in truth, almost impossible to explain. We have, over the last two years, traveled the paths of loss and death and the limits of sanity together, and through it all have somehow been able to retain some semblance of humour. In many ways, when we are together, our ability to laugh as much as we do perplexes me sometimes given everything that’s transpired, but I’d not exchange it for anything.
There is no arguing that over the last several years our lives have both been irreparably changed. The upside, of course, is that through it all we’ve had each other to fall back on – even more, that one never has to ask the other to catch them, that it remains an unspoken rule between us.
I would, of course, like nothing more than to be able to grant Rod’s wish to have his father here today to share some cake, or to even stand on the back porch of his old house with him and share a cup of coffee and a cigarette and a few laughs - but that is not something that I am able to do. So I will say this instead…
In this life we often know many people. There are those that we believe we know but actually do not, and those we share ourselves with at a remove that will never be truly close to us. In many instances in life we are let down by those we believe to be trustworthy, that have given us the impression that their feelings towards us are unshakably sincere, and those that would use us for their own benefit without it troubling their conscience in the slightest. But sometimes in this life, if we are very lucky, we are gifted a bond with another person that is unquestionable in its strength, in its sincerity, and in its reliability. And though many might believe that they enjoy numerous relationships with a variety of people, the reality is that if you can seriously claim to have had one such true friendship in your time on this earth you are unbelievably lucky.
Personal politics, jealousy, and uncertainty are not elements that exist between those that are truly our friends. No matter how bad things might get, they are the ones that refuse to abandon us, even to their own peril, inconvenience, or disadvantage. That is what a true friend is, and therefore is not something that many can claim they actually possess. In my life I have been gifted such an unconditional friendship, and on this, his 40th birthday, though he doesn’t need to hear it from me, he remains one of the very few people in my life for which I would surrender my own to see him safe.
On behalf of myself, my brother and Chloe, and my parents, happy birthday buddy.
I would write something critiquing the President’s State Of The Union address last night, but it was filled with the same sort of nonsense that the last seven have been, so.
One exception was, of course, his focus on the economy, which is in the toilet for numerous reasons, amongst them the enormity of six consecutively increased defense budgets, only parts of which are actually represented by the figures made public.
I’ll be honest, I never thought to live to see the day when our dollar would once again be stronger than the greenback, but here we are. Interestingly, the last time that it was the United States was also engaged in a foreign conflict.
Updated for content at 7:16 PM PST.
Kris Kotarski made an excellent point with his article U.S. ‘wrongly’ on torture list? in yesterday’s Calgary Herald…
“Does the United States torture prisoners? This is the question Canadians should be asking after a Foreign Affairs training manual made public earlier this month listed the U.S. as a country where prisoners are at risk of torture.
The manual, released by Foreign Affairs as part of a court case addressing Canada’s now-halted policy of handing over detainees to the Afghan government, placed our neighbours in the company of Afghanistan, China, Egypt, Iran, Israel, Mexico, Saudi Arabia and Syria. It also listed U.S. interrogation techniques such as forced nudity, isolation, sleep deprivation and the blindfolding of prisoners under its definition of torture.
So, does the United States torture prisoners?
This question is far more important than whether Canada committed a diplomatic gaffe when the manual was mistakenly released to Amnesty International.
It is also far more important than whether Stephen Harper’s government is embarrassed, angry or humiliated by the inclusion of the U.S., and another Canadian ally, Israel on the list.
Does the United States torture prisoners?
It’s an important question, not only because of our close ties to the U.S. law enforcement system, but also because of our cultural proximity to our southern neighbours.
It is also a question that no longer should be ignored by Canadians, since, sadly, all signs point to the fact that the answer is “yes.”
The apologists in Ottawa that have scrambled about in an attempt to placate the US with regards to their removal from the Foreign Affairs manual should, of course, been seen for what they are – cowards. We are, after all, currently engaged in a struggle for freedom and justice on the other side of the world, a cause that is trumpeted by those exact same individuals. One of the primary points often referred to when justifying our involvement in that conflict is that the preceding regime was responsible for human rights abuses and that to not participate in the defense of the new democratic government would ensure its return, and thus the return of such practices. Of course, we have, ourselves, been guilty of handing over prisoners to Afghan authorities that have then employed torture, so perhaps there is a good reason why Mr. Harper’s government was so quick to denounce the manual. But beyond that, how can we, as a nation that purports to champion human rights, not view the unscrupulous actions of the United States for what they are? Even more, how can we, as Canadians, stand by and watch our government bow and scrape to ensure that those with whom we are politically aligned can be assured that we wouldn’t dare include them in the company of those that have been vilified for the very same reasons?
Two more shows have been added to the upcoming US acoustic tour, one in San Diego and one in Austin, Texas.
I want to become a soldier of the new right-wing. It seems far simpler than the alternatives. Answers to problems are solved in the simplest of ways – through xenophobic ignorance, through the use of aggression, and, my personal favourite, yelling.
History prior to 9/11 has ceased to exist, unless it’s history that condemns those that have the annoying habit of bringing up history prior to 9/11. To be honest, it’s a fresh new approach that I’m entirely enamored with. Historical culpability-be-damned, it’s the dawning of a whole new era, and in it the new right-wing doesn’t need to be weighed down by the inconveniences of the past. The world is now defined by those that are Islamofacists, or their bleeding heart apologists, and those that stand for all that is right and good in the world.
It is, to be honest, like a breath of fresh air in a world inhabited by moonbat fanatics that would have all of us living under Sharia law if they had their way. Either that or in societies where gays and lesbians forced their unholy lifestyles on the majority, not to mention a myriad of other politically correct nonsense.
Rather than reading the wholly traitorous literature of notorious liberal academics, the new right-wing has champions that cut through their façades like warm butter and tell it like it is. Best selling authors such as Sean Hannity, Anne Coulter, and Bill O’Reilly represent brave new voices of change and awareness that provide readers with no nonsense examinations of the real world, while the airwaves are filled with the voices of those, such as Rush Limbaugh, that have the courage to speak truth to the great liberal echo chamber that would have us all in chains.
Yes, the time has at last come to make the change. Instead of having to spend a portion of each day researching issues, I can now simply post hyperlinks and ramble on in an entirely uninhibited fashion, completely devoid of worry. Facts-be-damned; facts only serve to convolute. The revolution has no need of facts, only fact free warriors bent on wielding the sword of freedom wherever she needs to be unsheathed.
Thus, onward new right-wing soldiers. In thankless solidarity we will scourge the world of the great diseases of Islamofascism, liberalism, and a whole host of other ‘isms’. And when our work is done, and those that oppose us are dispatched, we will have helped forge a better tomorrow for all those that love freedom.
What is it about people who when angry resort to burning tires? There must be stocks of tires waiting for such occasions in the areas surrounding the airport. Last year on January 23rd the opposition decided to enforce their type of democracy by forcing the country to shut down. They burned tires and blocked roads and eventually lead to the deaths resulting from clashes. Last week in an ingenious effort by the opposition to remember that day they staged another protest, this time the army was ready for them, and no roads were blocked.
But today was unexpected. Protesters in the area of Sheiyah took to the streets to protest the recent power outages, a problem that most of Lebanon suffers from, a problem that I had touched on back in a post I called H2O. I am not sure why the rest of Lebanon isn’t burning tires but the opposition supporters seem to choose tire burning and blocking the airport road as their main mean of protest. Do they even think about the toxins they and their families are inhaling?
A state of lawlessness is the biggest fear that Lebanon faces today. People that are angry and frustrated are taking matters into their own hands. Leaders’ broken promises and the countries failing economy are only making matters worse. And with all the chaos what starts out as a protest ends as a riot, what might start off peaceful ends in death. Today’s death toll so far is 8 with many injured. Political leaders urged their citizens to get off the streets but as the day passed things worsened and tire burning turned into bullets and grenades flying. The airport road was blocked and the army was mobilized in order to end the ensuing chaos. By the end of the day the streets were cleared and tomorrow Lebanon has issued yet another day of mourning.
A day of mourning means a day of school and university closure. Lebanon usually declares days of mourning as a way to prevent further violence. I used to work at a Lebanese university and have seen my fair share of students beating the crap out of anyone who opposed their political views. A day of mourning usually gives them a day to let out steam.
I of course am sitting half across the world in my safe living room, but can’t help and panic over family and loved ones back home. I thought things would get better as days pass but it just seems to get worse. Presidential elections have been postponed over 13 times, in the last two weeks there have been two terrorist related bombings and a riot. People are becoming less tolerant and fear of escalating bursts of violence and terror are almost a certainty.
Disclaimer: The quality of this video recording is crap. In no way is it intended to promote or condone the use of drugs. The mention of drug use in this video was for comedic purposes only. No one involved in the making of this video was under the influence of drugs during its creation.
In today’s Toronto Star, Eric Margolis makes some interesting points about the recent Manley Report. His first criticism I found to be particularly well put…
“The report on Afghanistan delivered Monday by the Manley panel was deeply disappointing. Its totally predictable findings could have been written without the panel of instant Afghan experts wasting millions of tax dollars.”
Margolis’ assertion in that paragraph should not be overlooked, no matter your position on Canada’s role in Afghanistan. The report, despite its goals, produced very little in the way of constructive criticism. While some have claimed the report unbiased and critical of a variety of different positions, I must admit that I also agree with Margolis’ follow-up paragraph…
“This whitewash was designed to provide political cover for the Harper government, which has hung its hat on the failing war in Afghanistan, and provide it an escape hatch if the kabob hits the fan. It’s the latest example of the Liberals pathetic failure to demand Ottawa answer tough questions about the mess in Afghanistan.”
There are, of course, those that view the report as proof positive that we are currently engaged in a conflict against an enemy bent on the complete suppression of a people. I’ll not argue the fact that the Taliban’s ideology is entirely dangerous and counter to those principles that I, personally, hold dear, but it must also be said that its resurgence since the occupation of that country cannot wholly be aligned with the support of the group’s ideology, but rather support for the group’s desire to see foreign occupiers dispelled and their ability to put that desire into practice. There are currently some 2 million displaced Pashtuns along the Pashtun belt that have helped bolster the Taliban’s numbers, many of them simply reacting to the dire circumstances that they have found themselves in and willing to fight because the pay offered them is, in comparison to the Afghan army, considerably more.
This is also, of course, where Afghan history comes into play, and it is something that should not be conveniently overlooked. It is important to remember that the current government of Afghanistan is, in many ways, a Western proxy, and that its survival depends on Western intervention. To some, that fact is entirely relatable to the proxy government backed by the Soviets in the 70’s, which led to over a decade of armed struggle against them and their Afghan allies. During that period, Islamic radical groups were funded by the likes of the United States, largely using the Pakistani ISI as a conduit, many of whom would go on to form the Taliban.
Pakistan, then under the governance of the now assassinated Benazir Bhutto, supported the Taliban’s crusade to control the country after the defeat of the Soviets primarily because it viewed such backing as way in which to see Afghanistan become a Pakistani satellite state. It was because of this that Hamid Karzai, Afghanistan’s current President, broke faith with the Taliban, whom he himself once supported, resulting in his decision to work to reinstate Zahir Shah, the last Afghan King, which he did, rather ironically, while in exile in Pakistan (of all places).
Unfortunately, as is always the case, the people became the true victims of regional political designs, resulting in the implementation of a government that was dramatically fundamentalist and wholly without regard for basic human rights. But it should also not be overlooked that when the Taliban regime was publicly executing women in football stadiums for crimes that any civilized person would consider utterly ridiculous, the West, Canada included, did not act.
It is here that the most important aspect of the current Afghan adventure must be mentioned – the luxury of pretext.
Without the pretext provided by September 11th, the United States would have never used outright military force against the Taliban regime. They may have, at some point, funneled monies into supporting the Northern Alliance, whom they employed as a proxy force during the 2001 invasion, and may even have undertaken covert operations to kill or capture Osama Bin Laden, whom they were after because of the embassy bombings in Africa, but it must not be forgotten that prior to 9/11 a lucrative pipeline deal that would have seen a US based company granted the rights to its construction from the Caspian coast in Turkmenistan, through Afghanistan to the Pakistani coast was in the works, and that the cooperation of the Taliban regime was required to make it happen. Again, it is not wholly beyond the realm of possibility that the US might have attempted to covertly destabilize the Taliban were they to refuse their support, but what is of vastly greater importance is the reality that were the Taliban to have supported the initiative, and September 11th not occurred, the United States would most likely have played ball with them.
Back To ‘The People’
From a domestic perspective, our role in Afghanistan has been painted as one that is crucial to ensure the simplest of freedoms to the Afghan people – be it schooling, women’s rights, or the ability to freely participate in electing a representative government. And while these are truly noble causes, there is a darker side to our involvement, even to ISAF’s involvement, that must not be overlooked. That when the time comes that Afghanistan is finally secured, and at this point there is no way of knowing when that will be, the people of Afghanistan, and their government, will find themselves beholden to foreign powers. Of course, those simple freedoms fought for and secured will be in place, but so will a continued resentment amongst a percentage of the population regarding foreign influencing and the entirely inevitable economic exploitation of the country. Given that those primarily involved in operations in Afghanistan are members of the G8 and entirely supportive of globalization, it only stands to reason that Afghanistan will find itself flooded with foreign entities bent on exploiting it. Of course, given their new found freedoms and stability, not to mention the fact that Afghanistan is a nation in which most live on $2 dollars or less a day, the introduction of foreign investment will be welcomed and, as is usually the case in the beginning, hailed for its vision and commitment to the growth of the country’s economy, which is currently almost non-existent. The truth, unfortunately, is that the majority of that investment will not, as is always the case, benefit the people themselves, who will eventually come to realize that they have simply traded one form of oppression for another.
Obviously there is a massive difference between living in a nation governed by fanatical religious zealots and enduring the exploitative practices of the world’s wealthiest nations in exchange for the insurance of basic freedoms. But the question ultimately must be asked – why are those that have nothing, and most likely never will, routinely forced to choose between the lesser of two evils?
If Afghanistan is to be for Afghans, then our intentions must be plainly and unequivocally stated – that our role in Afghanistan at present is not to reap the rewards of an outcome that will benefit us and others. That we will adamantly oppose the exploitation of that country given our role in securing those freedoms for its people that we have used as justification for being there. And that we will never endeavor to take advantage of the sacrifice of those who have given their lives in that pursuit to line the pockets of already wealthy Canadian business people.
Power To Truth
That said; there are innumerable complexities regarding the current state of affairs in Afghanistan that obviously come before predictions of any post-war reality.
“Ottawa’s rash blunder into a tribal civil war in Afghanistan, and one-sided policy in the Mideast, have put Canada squarely in the gun sights of violent anti-western groups, and make it appear an eager spear carrier in the Bush/Cheney wars in the Muslim world. Every bombed Afghan village breeds new enemies for Canada.
Ottawa is hiding the full truth about Afghanistan from Canadians. Our flag-waving media has further obscured the facts.
When did we last see a report filed from the side of the Taliban and its growing number of allies?
The report’s claim that Afghanistan’s U.S.-imposed regime is “democratic” is absurd. CIA “asset” Hamid Karzai was installed by Washington and is kept in power by U.S. troops and a stream of cash payoffs to drug-dealing tribal chiefs. His rigged “election” was supervised by U.S. troops and bought with $100 bills.
Afghanistan’s so-called “national army” is made up of U.S.-paid mercenaries. The “army” does not need more training, as Manley claims. It needs loyalty to a legitimate national government — which does not exist.
Half of Afghanistan’s population, the Pashtun tribes (source of Taliban), has been largely excluded from political power. Until included, there will be no stability, never mind democracy.
Ominously, the war is spreading into Pakistan. Canada is backing Musharraf’s dictatorship in Pakistan while claiming to be fighting for “democracy” in Afghanistan.
The report soft-soaped government corruption. It ignored the 800-lb. gorilla in Kabul: Senior government officials up to their turbans in the heroin trade. Canada, the U.S. and NATO find themselves patrons of the world’s leading narcostate, which supplies 90% of the world’s heroin and runs on drug money.
The drugs are exported through Pakistan, another key western ally. Taliban eliminated the drug trade before being overthrown.
Most important, Manley’s report completely ignored the biggest problem of all. Canada has no political objective in this aimless war beyond making high-ranking Ottawa officials feel self-important at NATO meetings.
The Karzai regime, which rules only Kabul, would not last a week without western troops. There is no prospect of national political consensus until the Taliban and its allies are brought into the process. The reborn Afghan Communist Party is again a dominant influence in Kabul, including running torture prisons to which Canada had, until recently, been sending captives.
Canada is not being ennobled by this sordid, ugly, drug-fueled war. Its honour and reputation are being injured, its security endangered.
The Manley report is the political equivalent of a subprime mortgage. It does the nation a disservice.”
To many, our role in Afghanistan is a very black and white affair. That we are there to defeat a fascist movement bent on plummeting that nation back into darkness. Of course, it’s not as cut and dry as that, no matter how much we’d like to believe that it is. For every action there is a reaction, and Afghanistan is no exception to that rule. In fact, it is the rule.
It’s at this point that I am routinely asked what I believe the solution to the problem to be. With regards to conflict as a whole, there is no easy answer to that question, or at least none that anyone wants to hear, save those that possess the blackest of dispositions.
Were one to look at this situation from a purely military standpoint, one without restriction, which is, in truth, the true nature of warfare, then the answer is quite simple, and one first employed by General Thomas J. Jackson after viewing the sacking of Fredericksburg proper by Union forces…
Kill ‘Em All
For those that enjoy employing the term ‘Islamofacism’ and delighting at the quips of individuals such as William Kristol, then I am sure this solution will be particularly favoured.
Despite the fact that we like to think of ourselves as wholly honourable with regards to our conduct in previous wars, the truth is that we are masters at employing overwhelming force to crush those that oppose us. Unfortunately, war is not something that can actually be undertaken with a conscience, as was proven in Vietnam. Had the United States employed severe, and, under the auspices of the Geneva Conventions, illegal methods, they would have made far greater progress than they ultimately did.
For example. During Vietnam, South Koreans were known for their exceptional ruthlessness, in some cases employing the most unconscionable, disgusting, yet effective practices when it came to dealing with the Vietcong. On several occasions they simply entered villages and killed everyone in them, thus ensuring that civilian support for the Vietcong and potential recruits were eliminated along with those in the village that acted as informants and so forth. They were so effective at counterinsurgency operations that they actually became widely feared by the Vietcong, who adopted a standing rule never to engage them unless absolutely necessary or outright victory was a foregone conclusion.
Were the same mentality employed in Afghanistan and suspect areas of Pakistan, you would no doubt see results. Of course, that would require the outright elimination of those civilians that act as a support mechanism for the Taliban, not to mention dealing with the millions of Pashtun refugees from which the Taliban draws some of its strength. In short, such factors would have to be systematically eliminated without regard, and with whatever means are available to us short of the employment of nuclear weapons.
It would probably quadruple the monthly cost of the war, if nor more, but at the same time end the conflict in a much shorter period of time.
True, the terrain is difficult and is to the Taliban’s advantage, but that’s precisely why BLU-82’s exist. While expensive, and logistically more difficult to deploy, one would imagine that they would be extremely lethal if used in large numbers. Then again, there are countless other bombs and remotely launched missiles that, if used in overbearing force, would make an impact as well. Given the satellite targeting technology available to us, we could simply go from grid to grid turning rocks in to pebbles, villages into craters, and people and animals into nothing more than blackened skeletons. At the same time, we would employ ground forces to move into those grids that have already been decimated to confront the survivors, and those remnants of the Taliban that have stumbled out of the hellish rubble, and eliminate them. Of course, to ensure maximum efficiency, we would have to make sure that we went about it in a random enough fashion so as not to allow the enemy to simply move from location to location, having figured out our targeting scheme. It would also require, at the very least, the deployment of some 500,000 combat troops.
The repercussions of such actions would be significant unfortunately, so we would also have to be prepared to deal with any segment of the Afghan population that endeavored to dissent against the use of such tactics, no matter their chosen method. Everyone from your average man on the street protesting the action to those willing to employ violence would have to be either jailed or eliminated. This would require the creation of a special until comprised of Afghans loyal to our cause overseen by Western commanders, all of whom would operate entirely off the books.
You want to win the war? Then fight it. Because in an asymmetric situation such as this, there is no comfortable middle ground.
Canada is currently one of only three nations involved in direct combat operations despite the fact that our contingent is smaller than numerous others that currently comprise ISAF. Our role in such operations is due to end in 2009, which means that if others are not willing to fill our role, then either we stay or adhere to the conditions of our original commitment.
If we leave, and despite how the current government or the Defense Ministry will attempt to paint it, those Canadians that lost their lives will have done so having done their duty as soldiers that were ordered by their government into harms way to do their job. The continuation of our presence based on our losses thus becomes nothing more than an act of attempting to ennoble the venture to cover the asses of those that were responsible for sending them into harms way in the first place, not to placate the overwhelming desire of Canadian forces to continue fighting and sustaining losses that are wholly disproportionate to those of the United Kingdom and the United States given the size of our contingent and theirs. The refusal of other ISAF members to engage in direct combat operations must also be taken into consideration, and again, not be used to justify our continued presence, but rather question why Canadian soldiers are good enough to be sacrificed while others are not.
If the answer is that we, as a nation, believe in waging war for the freedom of the Afghan people, then the methods that we are willing to employ must be reexamined. If not, Canadian forces could very well be in Afghanistan for another decade, costing this nation billions of dollars, and gifting this country’s historians a Vietnam of their very own.
Numerous things of interest this morning.
First, from The London Times, a report of an alarming nature regarding the selling out of Brewster Jennings, the CIA front used by Valerie Plame, by an individual within the US State Department.
The unrest in Kenya continues to spread.
Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf has rebuffed US proposals to increase the US military presence in Pakistan by way of unilateral covert CIA operations or joint operations with Pakistani forces.
Despite various scandals last year involving private contractors, US officials are currently attempting to ensure that private civilian contractors continue to retain legal immunity from Iraqi law. Officials have also demanded that US troops continue to be immune from local laws and retain the ability to arrest and detain Iraqi citizens.
The Egyptian government is going to continue to allow Gazans to cross the border unhindered so that they might have access to supplies. The Egyptian government has also said that it will meet with the leadership of Hamas in an attempt to rectify the situation.
Joshua Frank details Why Bush Wants to Legalize the Nuke Trade with Turkey.
Naomi Klein on Why The Right Loves A Disaster.
US Attorney General Michael B. Mukasey has suggested that he may never provide an answer as to whether waterboarding is, in fact, torture.
Barak Obama wins South Carolina primary in commanding fashion. Super Tuesday is going to be interesting.
The cost of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have now reached $11 billion dollars a month.
The matthewgood.org Community Flickr Pool has been updated and now accepts 2 photos per day from each member. As well, one photo from new entries posted each day is prominently displayed in the sidebar on the Community Hub page.
As with any website update, be sure to refresh your browser to see the changes properly.
I’m an Appleholic, there’s no arguing that. When it comes to my knowledge of PC’s, it’s pretty much nonexistent. In truth, I haven’t touched one for the better part of six years – though on occasion have been forced to use a few in various places during that time (I know enough to click on the IE icon to get online).
Given my profession, and extreme right-brained character, Macs simply work for me. In music they are the industry standard, though some might argue that PC’s are just as useful, which I’m sure that they are, but they’re not widely used. And while my conversion to Macs was entirely based on my work, I have come to consider them superior in many aspects.
That said, and as I’ve already mentioned, my knowledge of PC’s is extremely limited. Yesterday I made several entries about various Mac related things, one of which was iChat. In the comments of that entry a few readers informed me that the same features that the newest version of iChat offers have been available on PC’s for years. Of course, I had no idea that was the case, though have tried this morning (without success) to find which PC application is comparable to iChat in that regard.
There is also the never-ending debate regarding operating systems as well. Some prefer Linux, others Windows, and some OSX. There are others, of course, though less popular. The same goes for browsers. There are advocates for almost every browser out there, not to mention chat applications, video applications, and a whole host of other things.
As I’ve said, my main reason for using Macs is because of my profession. Ten years ago, drop dead simple technology did not exist with which to quickly record ideas. Fifteen years ago, the majority of musicians used four tracks, which were massively limiting. These days I have the ability to roll out of bed, stumble three feet, and record ideas in minutes. True, I could use far more sophisticated software, such as Logic Pro (the latest version of which I do have) or Pro Tools. But neither of them offers the same simplicity that Garage Band does for putting down ideas in very little time. It is, in the simplest terms, like a notebook that you keep in a drawer on which you scribble reminders to yourself and phone numbers.
An example of this, for the next few hours at least,
you’ll notice an audio stream at the bottom of this entry that provides an example of what I’m talking about. While it has its obvious flaws, keep in mind that it’s just a quickly recorded idea, one that started with a simple bass line to which layers were quickly added. All of the instruments and effects are available in Garage Band, their use easily mastered after only a few hours of initially messing around with it (for those of you that haven’t). No external effects were used (though it should be said that my Neumann had a blown diaphragm at the time which is currently being fixed, which would explain some of the vocal distortion).
Yes, it is 4:30 in the morning. And yes, I am awake.
Last night, after eating the same steak that I have been religiously ordering for the past 15 years, I found myself laying in bed next to Benji, watching Glenda Jackson  rip up the screen in Elizabeth R (it’s hard to believe that it premiered the year I was born), and finding myself getting somewhat droopy-eyed.
Being that Benji was due for his third dose of Codine at 1 AM, I set my alarm so that I could wake up and give it to him. And then, as was the case last night, the drama began.
Since he was a puppy, Casey has always tended to sleep right next to my head. In fact, he now takes immense exception to anyone, or anything, that attempts to occupy that area. Being that Benji has to be monitored, and I don’t want him sleeping in his crate or on his bed on the floor (as his disgust with me for allowing this to befall him is abundantly apparent), I have, for the past two nights, slept with him against my chest. Unfortunately, as far as Casey is concerned, that just won’t do. Thus, Casey delights in moving from place to place above and below the covers to convey his anger at being robbed of his ritual berth.
Having fallen asleep, Casey must have strong-armed his way back into his usual position, because when it came time to give Benji his medication he was in his bed on the floor. Of course, that’s caused me overwhelming concern because it means that Benji must have, at some point, jumped off the bed. Given the very tenuous state of his leg, and the fact that the next seven weeks are crucial with regards to the rod in his leg properly fusing to the bone, you can see why jumping off of a bed, even one that is very close to the floor, as mine is, might produce some panic.
Anyway, after discovering him on the floor, he was brought back to bed, which triggered a second round of Casey moving around the bed in a very deliberate fashion attempting to convey his dislike of the entire affair.
Therefore, there are now two dogs, that weigh less than 20 lbs between them, comfortably sleeping in a queen sized bed while I am sitting here writing this.
“She retired from acting in order to enter the House of Commons in the 1992 general election as the Labour MP for Hampstead and Highgate. After the 1997 general election, she was appointed a junior minister in the government of Prime Minister Tony Blair, with responsibility for London Transport, a post she resigned before an attempt to be nominated as the Labour Party candidate for the election of the first Mayor of London in 2000. The nomination was eventually won by Frank Dobson, who lost the election to Ken Livingstone, the independent candidate. In the 2005 general election, she received 14,615 votes, representing 38.29% of the votes cast in the constituency.
As a high profile backbencher she became a regular critic of Blair over his plans to introduce top-up fees. She also called for him to resign following the Judicial Enquiry by Lord Hutton in 2003 surrounding the reasons for going to war in Iraq and the death of government adviser Dr. David Kelly. Jackson was generally considered to be a traditional left-winger, often disagreeing with the dominant Blairite governing centre-right faction in the Labour Party.
By October 2005, her problems with Blair’s leadership swelled to a point where she threatened to challenge the Prime Minister as a stalking horse candidate in a leadership contest if he didn’t stand down within a reasonable amount of time. On 31 October 2006, Jackson was one of 12 Labour MPs to back Plaid Cymru and the Scottish National Party’s call for an inquiry into the Iraq War.
Her constituency boundaries will change dramatically at the next election. Gospel Oak and Highgate wards will become part of Holborn & St Pancras, and the new Hampstead & Kilburn ward will cross the border into Brent to include Brondesbury, Kilburn and Queens Park wards (from the old Brent East and Brent South seats). It is not yet known whether she intends to stand again.”
Her official website is here.
Former Un Secretary General Kofi Annan has made an important observation regarding the unrest currently gripping Kenya, and it is one that Kenyan politicians should not overlook – the fact that while political turmoil might have been the impetus for the country’s current strife, it is, in the words of Mr. Annan, evolving into “something else” altogether.
Despite the fact that Mwai Kibaki met opposition leader Raila Odinga last Thursday in an attempt to make progress and stem the violence that began after that country’s recently disputed election results, systematic human rights abuses continue to occur in what has evolved into a conflict that is rooted in something more than simple tribalism. As the BBC’s Fergal Keane reported last week, the simplicity of labeling what is unfolding as purely “tribal violence” does not truly represent the situation…
“…the tribal issues are only the symptom. Go into the muddy, filthy lanes of Kibera and you find something approaching root causes.
I have spent the past few weeks warning people not to make facile comparisons with Rwanda, where up to a million people died in 100 days.
That was a state-planned and executed genocide. What is happening in Kenya is nothing like that either in scale or intent.
But one thing did strike me as scarily familiar. This is a conflict in which the poor are set at one another’s throats.
In Kibera it is a matter of degrees. Those who have nothing are looting those who have a little bit more.
More than 50% of the people who live in this slum are unemployed. It has a child mortality rate that is between five to seven times the national average. There are tens of thousands of AIDS orphans. And there is no proper water or sanitation or electricity.
All this in a place with nearly a million people. As Walter Kibet, clinical officer with the charity Afrem put it to me: “You see the children getting sick and it affects every aspect of their development.”
This population has seen successive governments rob billions from the public purse in well-documented scandal.
Add all this together and you get a sense of what might be driving the rage. It certainly isn’t a simple issue of tribalism.
In the middle of all this are families like that of Ruth Awuma. She is married with six children and a husband who cannot work due to dreadful burn injuries. A lit candle fell on his bed while he slept.
Ruth rises every day at dawn and travels to work as a maid in Nairobi, returning home every evening just in time to put her younger children to bed.
I asked what her dream was. She didn’t talk about a new president or democracy. Such things seemed abstract in her dark and claustrophobic home.
“I would love a water supply in my house,” she said.
But you must know that is unlikely, I said.
Ruth laughed. “But I can pray,” she replied.
It was about as eloquent a statement of hope as you could hear in Kenya these days.”
It’s freezing here in the great city of Toronto. When I lived in Manitoba, -10 would’ve seemed balmy, but I guess my pussification continues the deeper I get into my retirement.
Condolences from all of us to those survived by Cpl. Étienne Gonthier, a soldier who joined the 5ième régiment du Génie de Combat in Quebec in 2004, who died earlier this week.
The 21-year-old combat engineer was supposed to be headed back to Canada from Afghanistan on Friday morning. He is Canada’s 78th soldier killed in the operation in Afghanistan.
Nobody Asked Me But…
Why is it whenever there’s another casualty in Afghanistan we as a public are fed the same line over and over again that “the troops believe in the mission”?
Perhaps Alfred Lord Tennyson said it best in his poem The Charge of the Light Brigade: “Theirs not to reason why, Theirs but to do and die.”
Nobody blamed those gallant troopers for riding straight into the Russian cannons in a barren valley thousands of miles from England on the Crimean peninsula. That was the responsibility of their government, which had given the generals the task of achieving a goal believed to be in the national interest of Great Britain.
Somewhere along the line, our politicians, their cheerleaders and the Canadian media who relay their comments have forgotten that the role of soldiers is simply to do their duty.
I’ve mentioned it on this site before that a soldier doesn’t believe in the meaning of quit - so you’ll never get a sound bite that says - “Well after 78 casualties we think it’s pretty much time to conduct a maneuver I like to call the advance in reverse and get out of here.”
For soldiers, it will always suffice to explain their deployment in harm’s way by saying: “Because we’re here, lad.” That is because in order to do their job, they must firmly believe that the country whom they loyally serve have their interests at heart.
I realize that reporters want to get the soldiers’ point of view, and they are only relaying the comments made by the commanders and public affairs officers. Where it becomes frustrating is when the pro-war advocates point to this assessment as “evidence” that we are succeeding in Afghanistan. “The troops on the ground believe in the mission so who are we here at home to question Canada’s role in Afghanistan?” they say.
The “soldiers believe in it” argument has also been used by some of our politicians anxious to divorce themselves from their own responsibility.
When soldiers tell journalists that they support the mission, they are not lying. However, if one were to quiz the rank and file as to how the international community should handle the illegal drug trade in Afghanistan, what is the optimum troop strength for the coalition forces, when should NATO begin its withdrawal, or what role should the former Afghan warlords play in a future Kabul government, they would universally shrug their shoulders and decline to answer.
Those decisions and debates are up to those “at a much higher rank level,” they would say.
The reason for this is because soldiers are not to speak “outside their lanes” or their own experiences when doing interviews with the media - as is a regulation in the QR & O’s.
Soldier must be diplomats for their country in the region they occupy but they are NOT politicians and should not be used as proof of political success.
The mission we, as Canadian citizens, must continue to actively debate is Canada’s overall national interest in Afghanistan.
In the end, we owe it to our soldiers to ensure their sacrifice is justifiable. That the end state is clear, understood, and attainable - because even if it is unattainable a soldier will die trying.
Before I end a quick congratulations to Steve Molitor who made his third defense of his 122 lb title last week. Steve is our only champion in pro boxing in Canada and unlike many artists and athelete that travel abroad in search of bigger pay days - “The Canadian Kid” has stayed true to his roots.
Have a great weekend and wherever you are, enjoy it - and don’t forget to invest in your RSPs before Feb 29th!
P.S. See ya Ferguson - I still blame the ownership for everything wrong with the Leafs.
P.P.S. - Go check out There Will Be Blood -Daniel Day Lewis is the best actor out there today - and it makes sense - he is Irish.
itunes: The Last DJ - Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers
DVD - Rome Season 2
Cinema - There Will Be Blood
It’s been over a month now and my iChat AV is still not working. At first I thought it had something to do with my new iMac, but I’ve been able to use Skype’s AV features without any problem, and Photo Booth also works perfectly, so it can’t be the built-in camera.
Not only that, but when I first got my iMac, and prior to installing Leopard, which Dale and I did when I got home from last fall’s tour, it worked perfectly. Others have been having the same problems, so it’s not limited to me alone.
Given that I do a lot of video conferencing for work, it’s something that’s been a huge pain in the ass. I have tried absolutely every remedy offered me and still cannot launch the video function in my iChat Preferences or begin an audio or video connection without the application crashing. I’ve even had friends at Apple try and troubleshoot the problem with me to no avail.
I am hoping that a fix is released, or an updated version of the application, so that the problem is remedied. In truth, when it’s working properly, iChat is leaps and bounds ahead of pretty much every other application of its kind. Not only does it allow you to have multiple audio/video conversations at once (conferencing basically), but also allows you to grant someone remote access to your computer so that they can help trouble shoot problems or access everything from applications to your hard drive itself – and all in real time, while you watch, and are in direct communication with them via video, audio, or text.
Say, for example, you’re a new Mac user and are having trouble figuring something out. If you have a friend that is an experienced user, you can jump on iChat (by either having a .Mac account or a free AIM account) and you can ‘share your screen’ with them, allowing them control over your computer and, in essence, giving them the ability to walk you through things right in front of your eyes.
It’s a rather spectacular feature, even with regards to those that don’t use it for such purposes. As another example, let’s say that I was working on a new web design and wanted to show it to Dale and allow him to meddle with it. I could share my screen with him and he would be able to access my Photoshop application, changing aspects of the design, and so forth.
Now, all I want is the damn thing to work!
Duane Storey and I have completed some updates to the Community Hub and Community IM, bringing a few new features.
It shows the time, author, and the entire chat message for the latest 10 comments made in the IM. This Live Preview also self-updates every few seconds, so if there’s a chat happening you’ll see in real-time what’s being discussed.
We hope both the RSS Feed and the Live Preview features promote discussion and help users stay in the loop as to what’s being exchanged in the IM, while also providing everyone with a little more access and help to meet up in the Messenger.
The IM itself has been revamped somewhat, and now hovering over the person’s name will show you the time since their message was posted. Links to each user’s profile details will be added in the future.
Additionally, other style changes and fixes should improve things, as well as various back-end tweaks to add to the usability and functionality of the IM on our side of things.
Duane also was the mastermind behind the ‘Recent Activity’ feature of the Community Hub, so many thanks go out to him for his help in making this site what it is.
For more information on using Community features, visit the Help page.
The Community features on matthewgood.org are available to registered, logged in visitors of the website. If you don’t have an account here at the site you can register (it’s free) and gain access to the restricted areas of the website once logged in.