Monthly Archives: March 2008

Military Leaders Say PM Brown Wrong On Inquiry

Prime Minister Gordon Brown has rejected requests for an overall inquiry into the origin and conduct of the war in Iraq on grounds that such an investigaton would “disract” from the current war going on. He insists any inquiry should take place when the “work is over” in Iraq. But, a number of Britain’s former defence figures have rejected the Prime Minister’s warnings to hold such an investigation would undermine the troops. Field Marshall Lord Bramal, who commanded troops during the Falkland War, responded: “I don’t think an inquiry cold be a distraction. I think it is such a political hot potato the Government is not going to want it before the next election. There are few issues which people want to know about–why was there no planning for the aftermath of the war and how did we get involved in the first place.”

Lord Craig, former marshal of the RAF, supported this view. “I think it is very timely to have an inquiry before memories fade. The fact that there remain some British troops still in Iraq–they are on an ‘overwatch’ role and not actively engaged– should not delay it.”

The reality is Gordon Brown was a member of the British government which plunged into a war based on lies and fought it without any long-term plan for dealing with issues that were bound to occur. No wonder he would prefer not having such incompetence investigated since it will damage his own reputation. Then again, will the “work” ever be over in our lifetimes?

Turkey Faces Internal And External Issues

The Turkish government is endeavoring to deal with the problem of Kurdish rebels who are in Kurdistan without antagnizing the government of Iraq or that of the United States. At the same time, the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) is being challenged internally by both nationalist and moderate groups. Moderates fear the government of President Gul and Prime Minister Erdogan is trying to end the secular tradition of the nation by emphasizing Muslim attitudes such as ending the ban on headscarfs in universities. Moderates regard it as the opening salvo in a campaign to transform the nation into a fundamentalist center. Nationalists are angry at failure to continue the campaign in Kurdistan and blame American interference with ending the Turkish strike into northern Iraq.

The situation has been further complicated by a public prosecutor who has brought charges the AKP has become the center of anti-secular activities and thus is in violation of the Turkish constitution. Hasim Kilic, the Constitutional Court President is urging everyone to step back for a moment and consider what is best for the nation. He emphasized, “as long as the institutions are functioning in Turkey, no one should be worried.”

There is no question the Erdogan government is determined to push through an end to the ban on wearing the headscarf in universities. Hopefully, all sides can find a compromise that assures secularists their rights will not be compromised while allowing some leewayto Muslim women in universities.

Is Israel Seeking Peace Treaty With Syria?

It has become a byproduct of the Israel-Palestinian conflict for reports to circulate every few months about a seceret Israel initiative to Syria. an Israel government official, Binyamin Ben-Eliezer, hinted his nation might be planing to hold secret talks with Syria in an effort to end their long standing dispute over the Golan Heights. “All efforts are bing made to bring Syria to the ngotiating table,” he noted, “to sign a peace treaty.” Prime Minister Olmert has told German diplomats he is ready to negotiate with Syria provided as part of the talks, Syrian gives a commitment to cease providing aid to Hizbullah and Hamas.

These supposed talks have been on and off again for nearly twenty years and in each case, rumors of a get together began with hints of “sceret discussions.” Perhaps, it is time to cease having “secret rumor talks” and openly announce Israel’s intention to enter negotiations with Syria. It might even be interesting to include Hamas and Hizbullah representatives at such a meeting in order to get all sides together that are impacted by any peace treaty.

Plan Vigipirate in France Ensures Security Against ?

The French government has introduced Plan Vigipirate which “calls pon all French men and women, whatever their occupation or level of responsibility to participate in this state of vigilance that allows us to make an effective collective response to the threat of terrorist acts.” Since a terrorist act can come from anywhere, most often from where you least expect it and may not have any specific object, it requires a state of vigilance. Vigilance is a state of mind and focuses attention at all times towards anything or anyone for any reason. It assumes even if the exact nature of the threat is unknown, there is no doubt the threat exists because by definition there are threats and if we assume there are threats then threats must exist. While surveillance is an activity, with a beginning and an end, vigilance is a permanent state of mind that creates new relationships between the indvidual and society.

Every time I read ideas such as Plan Vigipirate, I can only assume someone is pulling my leg until I realize in making that assumption I have played into the hands of the non-existant terrorists. In a sense, engaging in a state of vigilance is like being a character in a Seinfeld episode about nothing. America has been in a state of vigilance for seven years and during that time we have encountered the Ft. Dix group who more likely would be successful in an episode of the Three Stooges than in actually doing anything or a man who wanted to light his shoe and blow something up.

I must admit my greatest anger at beng in a state of vigilance for the past seven years is my failure to invest heavily into security firms since they apparently are weathering the stock market fiasco in quite a healthy manner.

Germany And US Increasingly Diverge On Policy

A few weeks ago, American officials bluntly told the German government it was not doing enough to fight in Afghanistan and were just as bluntly told to mind their own business. James Goldgeier, who served in the Clinton administration told Der Spiegel: “I m amazed at how openly the current diffeerences between berlin and Washington are being aired. In Feburuary it was the German role in Afghanistan. Now, it’s about the issue of NATO expansion in which Germany quite openly orchestrated the resistance to Ukraine and Georgia. This is relatively unusual in advance of this sort of summit.” German opposition to the expansion stems from considering the political ramifications of such action. German leaders recognize the newly elected President Dimitry Medvedev should be accorded some breathing room and an opportunity to establish positive relations with the West before being forced to issue public opposition to the incorporation of the Ukraine and Georgia.

President Bush is enthralled with glowing speeches about the spread of democracy and lacks sensitive understanding of the need to walk lightly with a new president in Russia. Germany is also aware many Ukranians do not wish to becom part of NATO and Georgia has many internal problems. The German government prefers to watch and wait unlike th tpical Bush charge ahead without any long term policital thinking.

Ironically, George Bush is now the moderate in dealing with Russia while Senator McCain has become the headstrong radical. McCain has deliberately insulted Putin by saying things like seing only three letters in the eyes of Putin –K G B.

Michael Moore Innocent Of Slander

A federal appeals court ruled that filmmaker Michael Moore did not defame an Iraqi war veteran when Moore used a clip from a television interview without his permission in the anti-war documentary “Farenheit 9/11″ Army Sgt. Peter Damon, who lost an arm in combat, claimed he was humilitated and emotionally distressed when Moore used the clip to make an attack on President Bush and the war in Iraq. Damon said in his interview with Moore he was complaining about a drug that he was using and not attacking the president or the war in Iraq but Moore made it appear he was making anti-war comments.

Judge Aida Delgado-Colon said: “There is no reason to believe that a reasonable member of the military or veteran community would cnclude that Damon’s appearance in the documentary conveyed a defmanatory meaning, and therefore lowered his reputation or subjected him to scorn, hatred, ridicule or contempt in that community.”

Television people whether intentionally or unintentionally frequently transform the words of someone being interviewed into expressions that bear slight resemblance to what was said. Unfortunately, that is the world of television.

Bush- Iraq’s “Defining Moment!”

From day one of the war in Iraq, President Bush and his cohorts, Cheney and Rumsfeld, have proceeded on the assumption the fight was a military one, not a political. At his press conference on Friday, the president said the fight now raging in Baghdad and Basra represents “a defining moment in the history of Iraq” as its government endeavors to crush Mahdi militia who are loyal to Muqtada al-Sadr. “It’s going to take awhile, but it’s a necessary part of the development of a free society.” He noted “Basra has been a place where criminality has thrived… and yes, there’s going to be violence, and that’s bad.” For some reason President Bush failed to mention that Basra was under the control of British troops for four years and it was only a few months ago they left the city and are now stationed at the airport. If Basra was a place where “criminality has thrived,” is Bush attacking Great Britain’s role in the war?

The press conference comments once again demonstrated President Bush’s misunderstanding of the war in Iraq. He continues to believe engaging in military action which crushes an enemy in a city represents a “victory.” The only “victory” that will truly ensure peace in Iraq is building positive relations among the various constituents who make up what we term the country of Iraq. An angry Madhi militia could slip into the countryside and form another element along with al-Qaeda that fights the Iraq government. The only “defining moment” in the history of modern Iraq is some form of constitutional gathering which defines how various groups will function in peaceful cooperation with one another.

Peace Not Violence In Tibet Urges Chinese Dissident

Wang Lixiong, who has fought for Tibet rights over the years urged his government to recognize their policies to demonize the Dalai Lama and impose Chinese culture on Tibet have failed. Wang, and a group of writers, scholars, artists and lawyers, signed a petition calling on the Chinese government to tone down the rhetoric of anger against Tibet rebels and deal directly with Tibetan leaders in a peaceful manner. He fears “too many people are being inspired by propaganda now to hate the Tibertan people.” Wang Lixiong may be among the few Chinese dissidents who actually have met and talked with the Dalai Lama. He points out that Tibetan leaders are seeking local autonomy, not independence.

China is no longer a weak nation, it stands astride the world as a powerful force in modern times. Perhaps, the present generation of leaders are unable to escape the anger, fear, and uncertainty of life when China struggled in poverty to gain respect. Chinese leaders would become powerful figures to emulate if they entered into peaceful dialogue with Tibetans and created a new model of autonomy for ethnic groups within their nation.

Mugabe Will Win In A Fixed Election In Zimbabwe

Reporters for the South African Mail & Guardian newspaper, spoke with members of opposition parties to President Mugabe and were informed they expect vote riging to ensure the president wins once again as he has for over two decades. Patrick Craven of the Congress of South African Trade Unions reflected on the upcoming election: “We remain very sceptical as to whether the elecitons will be free and fair” due to intimidation of opposition party members and threats by the Zimbabwe military to refuse allowing anyone other than Mugabe to become president. Tseliso Thipanyane of the South African Human Rights Commission, warned a flawed election will impact the entire region. “Whether we like it or not, the outcome of Zimbabwe’s elections will affect the entire Southern Africn region, so if the elections turn out not to be free and fair, we must act against the violation of human rights. Even it it means we go to the extent of holding sacntions against Zimbabwe.”

The Zimbabwe elections will not be fair. That is a given. The issue is whether South Africa and the African Union will stand up for the people of Zimbabwe as they did in Kenya. A trgedy is failure on the part of President Thabo Mibeki to make clear to Mugabe that Africa will not allow dictatorships that brutalize people to continue functioning.

Let Them Eat Salads And Keep Trim!

Gret Britain’s School Fund Trust came out swinging with demands schools should enforce “lock-in” during lunchtime so that children will eat healthy canteen food instead of going off to places where they consume junk food. A survey conducted by the Trust found there are, on an average, about 23 fast-food outlets within a mile of the typical seconday school building. It is concerned students are not taking advantage of new nutritional standards found in school cafeterias because they go elsewhere in search of foods that lead to obesity and poor health. The solution is to adopt a “stay on site” policy which restricts students to school grounds. John Dunford, general secetary of the Association of School and College Leaders, pointed out: “For instance, large schools with multiple entrances would struggle to provide levels of supervision. Other schools were built with canteens that are physically too small to cater to every pupil.”

After 50 years of teaching, I suspect the implmentation of this policy would result in black market foods being smuggled into schools since the ingenuity of adolescent children far surpasses the intelligence of school administrators. Of course, there is also the real issue once out of school they will devour extra portions of junk food. Noble intention, doubtful if it will ever be achieved.