August 01, 2006
REQUIRED VIEWING - Obsession: What The War on Terror Is Really About.
So UNproductive, no?
The Globe and Mail, July 27, 2006
On hearing the news that a United Nations observation post manned by four unarmed peacekeepers at the nexus of the Israeli, Lebanese and Syrian borders was struck by an Israeli bomb, an uncharacteristically forceful Kofi Annan bolted out of a meeting with U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora to proclaim his shock at the "apparently deliberate targeting" by Israel Defence Forces of the post. The UN Secretary-General went on to say the UN would conduct a full investigation.
A curious statement, considering his comment that the IDF intentionally targeted the observers. Case closed, n'est-ce pas? Not quite. The blast on Tuesday claimed the lives of Major Paeta Derek Hess-von Kruedener, a Canadian serving with the UN Truce Supervision Organization mission in southern Lebanon, and three other UN soldiers. On July 18, Major Hess-von Kruedener had sent a number of his colleagues, including regimental officers such as myself, an e-mail describing what the situation was like at his location since the Israeli attacks began against Hezbollah in Lebanon. "Based on the intensity and volatility of this current situation and the unpredictability of both sides (Hezbollah and Israel), and given the operational tempo of the Hezbollah and the IDF, we are not safe to venture out to conduct our normal patrol activities. We have now switched to Observation Post Duties and are observing any and all violations as they occur."
UNTSO was established in 1948 and is the UN's oldest mission. Canada has participated since its inception, and one of its current roles has been to monitor the ceasefire in the Golan Heights after the 1967 Six-Day War. When there had been a semblance of peace, UN monitoring made considerable sense, so minor violations could be dealt with quickly. But to leave the observers in place with a war under way stretches the credibility of the UN's operational judgment close to the breaking point. The penultimate paragraph of Major Hess-von Kruedener's e-mail is prophetic, to say the least: "The closest artillery has landed within two metres of our position and the closest 1,000-pound aerial bomb has landed 100 metres from our patrol base. This has not been deliberate targeting, but has rather been due to tactical necessity." This is what we call "veiled speech" in military jargon. It means hiding the truth in lingo that outsiders would not necessarily understand. What he is saying translates roughly as: "We have Hezbollah fighters all over our position engaging the IDF and using us as shields. They will probably stay, hoping that the IDF won't target them for fear of hitting us."
Surprising? Not really. I have served in another mission where one side constantly set up its weapon systems, including mortars, in and around hospitals, medical clinics, mosques and, yes, UN positions, knowing full well that, when it engaged its enemies and received return fire, it would make for compelling TV as the networks covered the civilian carnage. (When they took up positions around my soldiers, I advised their leaders that I would authorize my soldiers to kill them within the hour if they didn't withdraw. Fortunately, as I was not an unarmed observer, I was in a position to do that.) In many cases, the weapon systems were moved immediately after firing, and their positions around civilians were abandoned before innocents paid the price for their despicable techniques. You have to admit this technique helps to win the PR war, which often is as important as the fighting one. Certainly, the Secretary-General is familiar with this technique, having been the UN undersecretary of peacekeeping in the horrific 1990s, when the UN was floundering in the Balkans, Somalia and Rwanda. For that reason alone -- and despite his soft-pedalling yesterday that the Israeli Prime Minister "definitely believes [the bombing was] a mistake" -- Mr. Annan should not have been so quick to pass judgment on an event that quite likely was not as it seemed in the hours following the tragedy.
Retired major-general Lewis MacKenzie was the first commander of United Nations peacekeeping forces in Sarajevo.
Copyright 2006 - The Globe and Mail
Caledonia "Wake Up Call"
WTF is happening out there in Ontario?
The British equivalent of the CBC's "Tommy Douglas Story" folly.
By: Simon Heffer (Filed: 21/06/2006).
From: The London Telegraph
Next week, the charm factory known as the BBC's drama department will present a play about Sir Mark Thatcher and the abortive coup in Equatorial Guinea. Sir Mark can fight his own battles, and of his treatment by this programme I make no comment.
However, it also features a portrayal of Lady Thatcher, his mother, at a Christmas party at his house in Cape Town. Lady Thatcher used to visit her son at that time of year when he lived on the Cape. At least one book by investigative journalists has accurately documented her presence at the very time the coup was plotted.
However, it is at this point that what the BBC calls the writer's "interpretation" departs from recorded fact. Lady Thatcher is shown as a bellicose drunk, demolishing whiskies and importuning other guests for refills. Although written by a satirist, the play is said not to be funny. Having seen some of the writer's previous work, I can well believe that to be true.
However, whether it was comic or serious in its intent is beside the point. The fact is that a basic law of the charm factory has once again been proven: that no day is too short, and no opportunity too tangential, to vilify Lady Thatcher. To this, we might add another observation: that people with a certain cast of mind have come to see her as so inhuman that no act of vilification can be deemed too much.
Insults and obloquies normally cast only at the long dead, or criminals with no reputation to lose, are flung at her. Acquiescence in her demonisation has become one of the essentials of polite society. She was long ago de-feminised by men who wished to revile her. Now she is being dehumanised by those whose political creed is, they are always telling us, long on "compassion".
Unlike those who write such drivel, I know Lady Thatcher and see her socially quite regularly. I have yet, in many such meetings, to see her drunk. She has never importuned me, or anyone else in view, for drink or any other intoxicating substance.
It is supposed to be one of the geniuses of dramatic writing about real people that profound points can be made precisely by dealing with them accurately. This makes life difficult for those who make a living out of portraying Lady Thatcher. In private and in public, she has always had exquisite manners, reflecting the strictness and decency of her upbringing.
What she has also had, over the past four or five years, is a series of strokes that have to an extent incapacitated her. With great courage and determination, she has sought to fight the effects of these debilitating incidents by maintaining something approaching a normal life.
She is in her 81st year. Like many of that vintage, she can be forgetful or vague. Perhaps this has been mistaken for howling inebriation and dissipation; or perhaps, in trying to attack her, there is no affliction so unfortunate that it cannot be used to political ends, as part of the great campaign to revile her and poison her legacy.
Some of her more prominent friends, such as Sir Bernard Ingham and Lord Bell, have condemned this vilification, quite rightly, as offensive. That, sadly, will only encourage those who engineer it to believe that they have hit their target. If those who attack her simply see themselves as propagandists, then they have succeeded: just as Goebbels did, for example, by falsely portraying Jews as rats. After all, any fool can get a laugh from the gullible and unsuspecting by telling lies.
What should really concern us, though, is not the institutional Leftism of the BBC - which will only be solved by its eventual privatisation and submission to non-political forces - but why, after all these years, the mania for assaulting the reputation and legacy of Margaret Thatcher still continues. Having over the years seen and heard various examples of this on the BBC and elsewhere, I have struggled to fathom it.
No one under the age of about 25 can clearly recall what really happened when she was in power: so perhaps the Left is determined to prevent any young people from ever remotely understanding how great she was, by ensuring she is crudely depicted as mad and evil.
Like many viewers and listeners, I have been beaten into surrender about the dramatic and comic output of our state broadcaster. We accept, with due docility, that Right-of-centre playwrights, scriptwriters and comedians (I suppose there are such people, starving in garrets somewhere) simply cannot survive the commissioning process.
The BBC might respond that such people as it does commission routinely give Tony Blair and the Labour Government a kicking, too. So they do: but the kicking is always from the Left, and is administered (quite often by ex-public schoolboys) because of the Labour Party's class treachery in moving to the Right.
This is reflected, too, in some of the corporation's current affairs output: it is not unusual to hear private conversations on the Today programme between two Leftists, one of whom is a minister and the other of whom, attacking from the orthodox liberal Left, is a BBC interviewer. The Right has no place in such exclusive discourse, which is, perhaps, why David Cameron now affects to be a Leftist, too, and urges his friends on in the same direction.
However, last week a light was shone in on my ignorance. A long-time servant of the BBC explained to me, in a moment of stunning insight, why the Leftists in that organisation, and the Leftist contributors to it, are so bilious and angry even 16 years after Lady Thatcher left office: it is because they lost. They were wrong. They were humiliated. They have become bores with nothing else to say. They were not, of course, defeated just by Lady Thatcher: the coming down of the Berlin Wall and the end of the Cold War defeated them, too.
Their defeat was then compounded by the speed with which the party of the Left - Labour - abandoned many of its historic principles and, in order to be elected, adopted what can only be described as a Thatcherite consensus. And finally, Mr Blair put the icing on the cake by (we are told) promising that, at her death, Lady Thatcher will be granted the state funeral she deserves.
Consider how angry, how seethingly, dribblingly, incontinently, steamingly angry, you would be if you were a Leftist, as you reflected on the past 25 years or so. First, Lady Thatcher had policies that, after a period of bloody but necessary economic restructuring, improved not merely the growth rate and prosperity of the private sector in general, but also helped create wealth for millions of people who had hitherto owed everything to the state. People suddenly owned their homes, owned shares, and had the freedom to spend more of their disposable income.
Second, her example flashed around a world benighted by socialism, so much so that she remains a heroine in those nations liberated from it. Freedom, choice and prosperity have replaced oppression, uniformity and poverty. Do these people ever ask Poles, or Latvians, whether they wish the clock could be turned back to the age of socialism? How do they explain that things in such lands are so much better, and people so much happier, now?
Finally, why hasn't "their" party undone all the "damage" of Thatcherism? Why do trade union laws remain unrepealed, and industries privatised? Why has there been no uprooting of the property-owning democracy? It is because she was right, and they know she was right. They cannot, however, bear to admit it. All they can do instead is tell lies, call her names and spit with rage. Don't laugh at them. Pity them.
An exchange from the cyf-talk listserv...
> I'm leaning towards organizing the entire course around the question
> of Canadian Identity. Do we have one? What is it? Is it important?
> Does it make sense to speak of a national identity? And so on.
Each person will answer these questions differently. I can first provide my own coles notes take on the subject. Canada is not, in my view, a 'nation' in the political science glossary sense of the word. There have been numerous attempts since the late 1960s to artificually create a sense of Canadian nationalism. While there are pockets where it might now have some roots and some followers whose view of the country depends on staying blissfully ignorant re several big chapters of Canadian history, for the most part this effort has not only failed, it has polarized Canada in many ways.*A Legal History professor at Dal Law used to quip that the difference between Canada and the United States was that in the United States, the people showed up and decided what kind of government they wanted whereas in Canada, the government showed up and decided what kind of people they wanted.*
On many levels, this is the situation, or (if you're of my view on the matter), the problem! I always loved even the difference in how the two constitutions begin. . . "We the people . . . " and so on right on up to the top authority, versus "Canada is a nation under God. . . . " and right on down to a point where you might even find reference to a regular individual! Now to be more positive. Canada is a federation. This doesn't mean it isn't a good country. This doesn't mean it's weaker. This doesn't mean there isn't something even more impressive inherent in the building blocks of the federation. Indeed, Canada the federation is a much more unique and promising concept than Canada the nation. Canada the federation has more potential. The last 30-40 years of federal politics has been marked by the struggle between those who see the potential and those who feel the need to rail against and exterminate anything that doesn't fall into line with post-expo-67 "CA-NA-DA-ism" [sing it to the tune of that dreadful expo anthem] If you want insights into the nature of Canada, as well as some much-needed explosion of the Ottawacentric orthodoxies about Canada and the people and how they are/were governed and came to be here, I suggest the following reading list.
"First Nations, Second Thoughts" by Tom Flanagan. Skewers all the left fed entitlemania.
- "Misconceiving Canada: The Struggle for National Unity" by Kenneth McRobarts. [turns most of what Canadians heard about unity from their simplistic Trudeauite Canadian nationalist heroes on its head. Does so with piercing logic and solid grasp of empirical fact]
"Thirty Million Musketeers" by Gordon Gibson. Another great slice into the Ottawa orthodoxy on Canada.From a more specific perspective of somebody from Newfoundland and Labrador, I recommend you take a gander at some of the defining texts that establish how most NLers see themselves and Canada.
- "Our Place in Canada" Report of the 2003 Royal Commission on NL's place in Canada.
"Surviving Confederation" by F.L Jackson http://www.bookfinder.com/dir/i/Surviving_Confederation-A_Revised_and_Extended_Version_of_Newfoundland_in_Canada/0921191022/
As well as the books that show us the depth of some of the provinces that centralizers of the Trudeau/Chretien school would so quickly dismiss as meaningless:
- "More than a Poor Majority: The Story of Newfoundland's Confederationwith Canada" by Bren Walsh
"Newfoundland and Dominion Status" by William C. Gillmore "Newfoundland at the Crossroads: Documents on Confederation with Canada." Ed. J.E. Fitzgerald.
> I want the students to keep this question in mind while we tackle a
> number of different, more specific, issues. Here is a rough list of
> the more broad categories, with sub-headings:
> I. Canadian Politics and Government Public Policy
> Question: Is there a "Canadian" approach to policy?
Unless it is some shorthand on pluralism and federalism and hopefully 'subsidiarity,' no, not really. I'd also mention the outward & inward looking work of Don Mazankowski's 2002 commission on this file as well as the writings of the Atlantic Institute for Market Studies. . . http://www.aims.ca/healthcare.asp?typeID=1&fd=0
And the work of Dr. David Gratzer ("Code Blue" & "Better Medicine"), Brian Lee Crowley ("Definitely NOT the Romanow Report"), Johan Hjertdvist, Fred McMahon, Martin Zelder, and Dr. David Zitner. A final bullet on this subject -- Tommy Douglas supported user fees!
Excerpt from a speech given by Tommy Douglas, October 13, 1961, to a Special Session of the Saskatchewan Legislature. "I want to say that I think there is a value in having every family and every individual make some individual contribution. I think it has psychological value. I think it keeps the public aware of the cost and gives the people a sense of personal responsibility. I would say to the members of this House that even if we could finance the plan without a per capita tax, I personally would strongly advise against it. I would like to see the per capita tax so low that it is merely a nominal tax, but I think there is a psychological value in people paying something for their cards. It is something which they have bought; it entitles them to certain services. We should have the constant realization that if those services are abused and costs get out of hand, then of course the cost of the medical care is bound to go up."
For the best stuff from Canadians, I'd recommend Brian Lee Crowley and Fred McMahon. They tear Maude Barlowe and company apart on their assumptions about NAFTA, FTA, WTO etc... The crazy part about that is the fact that we've stalled and we still have a ridiculously large government footprint on the economy. This is as good a place as any to consider discussing the use by the Liberals/NDP/Red Tories of the United States as the bogeyman example of what would happen if Canada became any more economically free. American students should get a laugh out of that.
> II. Regionalism
> Question: Do Canadians identify more with their region than with the nation?
72% of NLers see themselves as Newfoundlanders or Labradorians first and foremost. Less than a quarter saw themselves as "Canadian" first. http://www.exec.gov.nl.ca/royalcomm/research/pdf/ryan.pdf
The more interesting discussion is about whether this is such a bad thing. I think it's a positive and quite understandable thing. I'd recommend you also consider whether most people who advocate Quebec Independence would define themselves in the near negative (ie "separatism"). As you might expect, I have some difficulty with discussing the Newfoundland and Labrador experience in Confederation in context of "Atlantic Canadian," given the artificiality of that concept in any other sense except the greater "Atlantica" region's long history of economic connectivity. There is some commonality between the Maritime provinces' political culture. Even then, It's tough to lump these folks together. That said, I'm an MA candidate for "Atlantic Canada Studies," so I obviously didn't think the concept was completly without utility. On Newfoundland and Labrador nationalism and distinctiveness, see the texts I mentioned earlier. For history, try "As Near to Heaven by Sea" by Kevin Major and "Newfoundland in the North Atlantic World" by Peter Neary. On Atlantic Canada history, the greatest resources come from St. Marys University's Gorsebrook Institute.
> III. Parties and System - Liberal Party hegemony
I'd insert something in here about the effect of the hegemony on even the policy and leadership development in the Tory party. Dilution of conservatism. Trojan horse politics. I'd also mention some of the personality/leader worship that affects our politics and leaves us with less ideas based politics. If there's time, try to remind them that the pre-1982 provincial and federal civil rights legislation in tandem with SCC civil rights jurisprudence was leading to a quite eloquent system of rights protection and already surpassed most of what existed in the world at that time. It did so protecting a greater range of rights -- including property rights.
Hope this helps. Give me a shout if you have any specific inforequests re NL or anything else.
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This is where Islamist fascism will be defeated...
Laborers at a May Day Rally in Iran Turn the Tables Against Mullahs
By RAMIN TALAIE - Special to the NYSun
May 2, 2006
TEHRAN, Iran - A spontaneous protest by jobless Iranians in Tehran yesterday portends future civil strife for the clerical regime that is fending off Western diplomatic solidarity against its advanced nuclear program.
Against the backdrop of the former American Embassy in Tehran, where American diplomats were first taken hostage in 1979, labor unions gathered for the traditional May 1 demonstrations.
But instead of directing their chants and banners against America, "the Great Satan," the workers made their target the regime that coined the phrase. At issue was a simmering strike of bus drivers, many of whom have not been paid in months.
The demonstrations come as other cracks in the regime are beginning to form. Secular author and opposition activist Amir Abbas Fakhravar on April 29 successfully escaped from Iran and is heading for America. A spokesman for the Iranian referendum movement - which seeks a plebiscite on Iran's constitution - said yesterday that Mr. Fakhravar intended to travel to America without delay.
"How his refugee application is treated will affect the morale of others seeking moral support from the world," Pooya Dayanim said yesterday. "His security situation is very bad. He needs to leave the environment and come to the United States as soon as possible."
Reform Web sites are now reporting that the mullahs, anxious at growing dissent among younger Iranians, have redoubled their efforts to jam broadcasts into the country, a possible counter to the State Department's plan to spend at least $50 million on programming beamed into Iran.
Meanwhile, the members of the five nations that hold permanent seats on the U.N. Security Council are set to meet today in Paris to discuss next steps regarding Iran's refusal to suspend enrichment of uranium.
The scene yesterday in Tehran featured middle-aged men with days-old beard, dressed in modest clothing jumping off to eagerly pick up banners and move toward the stage. A few hundred women wearing green paper hats to shade the warm morning sun over their dark hijabs marched on the opposite side of the street.
Each labor group carried signs proudly indicating their trade. While some large banners congratulated the Iranian scientists in their accomplishment of enriching uranium, the gathered crowd seemed to become restless when a member of the Majlis began his address.
Instead of applauding the lines of the speaker, the crowd began chanting slogans demanding the resignation of the labor minister, shouting, "Shame on you for not doing anything for us." A hand-written sign brought to the rally read, "I have not been paid in 14 months," signed by a man from the city of Kashan. Other signs appealed for labor laws to be reformed.
Despite the highest prices in decades for Iran's chief export, petroleum, the Iranian economy is grim for most workers. One survey from 2004 estimates the unemployment rate to be slightly over 11%, other surveys suggest the number is as high as 16%.
According to the Middle Eastern Economic Survey in 2004, about 34% of those between the ages of 15-24 are jobless.
As the heat of the midday sun began pounding harder, the crowd started growing restless with each new speaker. More men began pushing their way toward the stage. A heavyset man with a leathery face and thick mustache finally broke the security barriers and climbed his way over, prompting the organizers to call off the rally. The men on the streets then began shouting, "Forget about Palestine, think about us." Iran's foreign ministry last month announced it would donate $50 million to the Hamas led Palestinian Authority. Others in the crowd began chanting, "Strike is our right" and started threatening the riot police. A small unit of Basij - a paramilitary group loosely organized by extreme conservatives - security men began clearing the stage. The Basij men ordered everyone off and took one person who seemed to fight back with them. An estimate from one opposition group yesterday said that overall 12 leaders of the counter-demonstration were arrested.
As the Basij security forces took one man away, they were followed by demonstrators. The chanting became more intense as the crowd shouted, "Look at France then do something for us." Other demonstrators beat their heads while chanting, "Today is a mourning day for laborers." A 60-year-old man at the demonstration who described himself as a "Janbaz," a veteran of the Iran-Iraq war, said he traveled to the demonstration yesterday from Qazvin, a city about 300 miles west of Tehran. He said he had been working for various factories trying to provide a simple living for his family.
When asked whether his photograph could be taken, he smirked and said, "Take as many pictures as you want ... but they will not let any of these to be published." He was correct in one sense. None of the state-run TV stations mentioned anything about the riot at the May Day rally. In fact, one of the stations ran an interview with the labor minister whose resignation was demanded by these very workers.
Why do we debate marriage?
I recommend this article to get you thinking about the place, the purpose, and the value of marriage.http://www.townhall.com/columnists/KathleenParker/2006/03/22/deleting_dad
This article highlights just one aspect of our culture, one of many but an important one, that speaks to the dangers of the erosion of marriage.