Monthly Archives: October 2008

US Air Strikes Continue In Pakistan

American missiles continue hitting into Pakistan in the search to kill al-Qaeda or Taliban leaders, but the only message emerging from these attacks is growing anger on the part of Pakistani leaders about outside forces killing their citizens. At least 27 people have been killed in two strikes over the past week. Several observers on the scene agree a few al-Qaeda middle level leaders might have been killed, but in all such operations, the dead also include innocent civilians. These attacks raise other issues. Will killing ten or twenty or a hundred middle level officials result in peace? Or is it meaningless since there will always be others to assume the mantle of leadership in al-Qaeda?

Bush continues to misunderstand the concept of fighting a guerrilla war. Such wars are won by gaining the support of the people more than killing some leaders of the opposition.

Britain Losing War Against Drugs–Who Isn’t?

The United Kingdom is gradually losing the war against cocaine according to latest figures which reveal a large increase in use of the drug and an ever declining amount that is being seized by the police. The proportion of adults who use cocaine has risen nearly four fold since 1996 to an estimated 810,000 last year. The actual volume of cocaine being taken by police has fallen by more than half since 2003. Ironically, the overall use of of drugs is falling, but the number who resort to cocaine continues to rise. Naturally, those who believe drugs should be illegal complain about failure on the part of police to do their job, but ending drug use is about as possible as was ending use of alcohol during the roaring twenties in America. People will always find a way to obtain an illegal drug regardless of what police do in the way of prevention.

It is time for Great Britain to admit defeat in its war against drugs, and seek alternative paths that begin with government ownership of drugs and using that leverage to assist individuals to enter into controlled drug use under proper medical supervision. There is no guarantee that will work, but it will reduce drug violence.

Pakistan Gazes West To Turkey On Education Model

Pakistan has failed to create a modern education system which serves the needs of all of its youth. A high percent attend religious schools known as madrasah in which, all too often, they are indoctrinated in religion, and fail to engage with modern thinking and ideas. Syed Yousaf Raza Gilani, prime minister of Pakistan is considering the possibility of revamping Pakistan education based on the model of Muslim Turkey whose secular schools are high quality and few of its students graduate to serve in the world of terrorism. There are currently more than 20,000 madrasahs in Pakistan who serve about 1.7 million students

Pakistan must address the needs of its poor students who are the ones most likely to attend a madrasah because their family can not pay school fees. Defeating terrorism in Pakistan begins with weaning away disaffected youth from the madrasah in which they learn to hate, and involving them in secular schools where they learn how to utilize their inherent talents.

Reading Dead From Stalinism In Putin Russia

There was a glorious opportunity after the end of the Soviet Union and Stalinism for the Russian people to become members of the democratic world. For a few years, there was high hope that wonderful goal would be achieved, but Putin arrived on the scene, and a modern version, less horrible, but still a version, of Stalinism appeared. The press was censored, the media became an arm of the government, innocent people were arrested on false charges, and the Russia so many of us loved and wanted to become a reality, is still trapped in the dead past. The other day, hundreds gathered in Lubyanskaya Ploshchad to read some of the names of those who died under the brutality of the KGB–Putin’s old stomping ground. Young and old read names of those brutalized by the Soviet Union.

“Kokakrevke, Alexander Danilovich, 30 years old. Exp[elled from the communal far for being a kulak. Shot January 31, 1938.”

The names were read with love. Hopefully, no names need be read in 2025.

Afghanistan Witnesses Further Violence In Kabul

President Karzai is reaching out to Taliban militants in order to halt the destruction of his nation as forces of violence continue to exert their influence. The latest example which depicts the weakness of his government was a suicide bomber who blew himself up on the steps of the ministry for information. The Taliban claimed credit for the incident which witnessed a man opening fire at guards before decided to explode himself and kill and wound several people. The incident highlights confusion which is now present in Afghanistan. Karzai is using the good offices of the Saudi Arabian government in order to broker some sort of peace with Taliban leaders, but does the suicide attempt reflect a desire on the part of the Taliban to illustrate its power or does it reflect internal divisions within the movement?

Most probably, if history is any guide, the Taliban is split between those ready to accept some sort of peace provided they can secure power in Afghanistan and those who will not end fighting in Afghanistan until they have gained complete victory. The best bet for Karzai is quickly securing some sort of peace arrangement. The problem remains — what is he willing to surrender in order to gain peace? And, the other question is –will the American government allow him to negotiate peace?

Indonesia Legislature Passes Anti-Porn Bill

The Indonesian legislature passed a controversial anti-pornography bill that has been denounced by human rights activists and many women groups. Many minority groups and those who defend social justice fear the new bill will erode free speech rights. One opponent argued: “We agree we must protect our nation from pornography, but we can’t accept the substance of this bill.” The bill defines pornography in terms that could place an artist or a comedian or a woman in danger of being arrested. For example, it defines “gestures” that incite pornography as illegal, a definition that could cast a wide variety of behaviors as tantamount to pornography.

The bill allows local groups to take the law into their own hands by acting to get rid of pornographic materials or take action against an individual who they believe is fostering pornography. The bill is so vague that an art exhibition which is termed “pornographic” by a local group can be halted and the organizers thrown in jail.

Topsy Turvy Egyptian Sexual Harassment Case!

Several weeks ago, in a landmark case, an Egyptian court held a young man guilty of sexual harassment, the first time this had happened in the nation. Naglaa El Emam, the lawyer who represented the woman in the case, Noha Roushdy, suddenly announced she was switching sides and would now represent the defendant. She learned that Ms. Roushdy was an Israel Arab which for some reason angered the lawyer. She also learned that the defendant had filed a civil harassment against a public officer in France and won the case. Perhaps, the nail in the coffin was a statement by Ms. Roushdy that her native Israel was a “respectable state.” Apparently, there is a move to throw Ms. Roushdy out of the country.

The issue is sexual harassment, not the nationality of the woman who was abused. The lawyer in this case has an ethical responsibility to defend any woman, regardless of race, religion or nationality.

Who Caused Deaths In Somalia?

Somalia is to Africa what Afghanistan has become to Asia, a center of turmoil, destruction, bombings, and murder of innocent people. North Somali authorities arrested a local sheikh who is suspected of being behind this week’s rash of bombings that rocked the nation and killed dozens. The United States believes al-Qaeda was behind the bombings while most Somali authorities blame local Islamic militants. Medical staff at a hospital blamed recent killings on Somali and Ethiopian soldiers. The horror of the entire death and destruction is the lack of any group or nation which can find a way out of the madness that has become Somalia.

The UN is trying to broker some sort of peace but there is no indication local Somalian Islamic groups have any interest in accepting peace. It is estimated over 10,000 people have been killed since the first of the year and there is not doubt another 10,000 will die next year.

The Tragedy Of The Congo Goes On

The body count of dead Americans in Iraq has reached four thousand, tens of thousands of Iraqis and Afghan people have died, and George Bush insists America must stand tall in the fight to extend democracy. Of course, there is never a word from the United States of the European Union concerning events in the Congo where more people have died than in any conflict since the end of World War II. Current estimates are at least five million are dead, and thousands of women have been raped, and thousands of children forced to kill family members so they have no home except serving in some rebel army.

According to Johann Hari, the official story of what happened in the Congo was after the Rwanda massacre in which Hutus killed thousands of Tutsi and then lost, they fled to the Congo for safety. The real story is exploitation of Congo’s incredible riches by businessmen from Africa, Europe and elsewhere who use soldiers to get at gold, diamonds, coltan and other riches waiting to be taken by whoever has an army to seize it. The 17,000 man UN army is unable to halt the carnage which never stops and the rapes which destroy human life.

If George Bush really cared about democracy, he would have sent American troops into the Congo, not into Iraq.

Saudi Arabians Tend To Support Obama Candidacy

Saudi Arabia has been among the firmest allies of George Bush and his Republican administration, but in a recent poll taken by the Saudi Gazette revealed a surprising support among a wide range of citizens for the candidacy of Barack Obama. Eight out of ten Saudis who were interviewed preferred Obama over the Republican candidate, John McCain. Most people expressed a hope that Obama would be more successful at dealing with resolving the Middle East crisis and finally end the conflict between Israel and Palestinians. They also wanted an end to the American occupation of Iraq and action to deal with energy issues. A few Saudis referred to McCain’s age and “hot temper” as factors that turned them away from his candidacy.

The overwhelming support for Obama had nothing to do with rumors that he is a Muslim, but stem from desires on the part of people in the Middle East for peace and security. They just don’t trust McCain to accomplish those goals.