Monthly Archives: January 2010

Tony Blair And Arrogance Of Power!

Nearly seven years have passed since American and British forces invaded Iraq in order to seize the alleged WMD and to bring the benefits of democracy to the people of that nation. Former Prime Minister Tony Blair appeared before the Chilcot inquiry which is attempting to unravel how the decision to invade was made and what were original goals of that decision. Blair told the inquiry he had “no regrets” and blamed any subsequent problems on Iranian interference, misplaced assumptions and not enough American troops on the scene. He did not offer any explanation as to why 40,000 British troops were sent into a country in search of non-existent weapons.

When questioned if the invasion was worth over 100,000 dead Iraqi civilians, Blair responded: “I genuinely believe that if we had left Saddam in power, even with what we know now, we would still have had to deal with him in circumstances when the threat was worse..” It is unclear which “threat” was ever posed by Saddam Hussein, given that he lacked any WMD. All Blair could utter was, “I think he was a monster.” Blair repeatedly defended his decision by claiming Saddam Hussein had the power to become a threat.

The former prime minister denied he had conspired with George Bush to create a war, he expressed shock at American torture of prisoners, and would only admit to “errors” in not being prepared for the aftermath of the invasion.

Where does one begin to respond to this cloud of words. First, Saddam Hussein was noteven capable of defeating Iran during the 1980s despite years of war. Second, the UN asked for a few more weeks to continue their investigation about the alleged WMD. Third, General Shinseki, Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff asked for 400,000 troops and was not only told he was wrong by Secretary of Defense Don Rumsfeld, but was forced to resign. As Tony Blair left the room, there were shouts from the audience, “you are a liar and a murderer.”

What Happened At Wanat, Afghanistan?

It was a typical summer day on July 13, 2008 in a remote valley in Afghanistan when a body of American soldiers were ambushed by Taliban militants and in the resulting clash, nine US soldiers died and 27 were wounded. Army units were stationed in a small remote combat outpost near the village of Wanat when over 200 Taliban fighters swarmed over their position. This was the deadliest attack on US forces since the beginning of the Afghanistan war. Family members of those killed have enlisted the support of Senator Jim Webb to get at the truth. Why were the men in such a remote area? What was their mission? Who ordered the mission?

Reality is all too often American troops are in isolated areas of Afghanistan which calls into question the mission of our presence in that country. Is the goal protecting all areas of Afghanistan? Is the goal securing specific areas? Until these questions are answered it is difficult explaining our presence and our goals in Afghanistan.

Can’t Beat Em-Buy Em Off!

An international conference which is discussing ways of dealing with the war in Afghanistan has concluded that if NATO/US forces can not win on the ground, then why not simply save time and money and bribe Taliban forces to end their fight against the government of Hamid Karzai. The 60 nations pledged $180,000,000 to offer moderate members of the Taliban who would cease fighting and be provided jobs, farms, housing and other amenities for simply laying down their arms. Diplomats deny this in any way is a bribe approach, we simply are giving people who seek to kill our forces money in order for them not to kill anyone. Of course, this is not a bribe, it is called, “capitalism in action.”

President Karzai will call a royal jirga which hopefully will be attended this spring by chieftains and other local Afghan leaders in order to gain their support for this “victory through money approach.”

Is there a way the Obama administration could adopt this approach to win over Republican combatants who are deadlocking Congress? How much pork barrel legislation would convince several Republicans to end their defiance against any action in the Senate?

Is Shared Child Care A Solution?

Father groups are up in arms over proposals to change existing laws which encourage both parents to continue being responsible for sharing in the raising of children living through divorce. A recent study by the Australian Institute of Family Studies found that 70% of male and female lawyers believed the existing law favors fathers over mothers, and 62% said they favored parent rights over children rights and needs. One lawyer noted that “a lot of women are desperate to settle because they are so frightened of what might happen if they go to court.” The study believes shared care all too often ignores needs of children in order to deal with emotional of financial needs of adults.

The National Council for Children Post-Separation believes the current system has resulted in “parents being forced to send their children to abusive and violent parents as part of court-ordered custody visits.” This is one issue that has no clear-cut conclusion. One could readily argue both sides of this dispute. Children benefit by having interaction with both parents, but if one parent is abusive it results in emotional damage.

Sweden, A Modern Melting Pot?

In my youth back in the 1930s and 1940s, if someone said the word, Sweden, thoughts of tall blond haired men and women entered my mind. That was true, to some extent that is, about fifty years ago, but the modern nation of Sweden increasingly has become a mixture of people from every part of the world. Over the past fifty years, the number of foreigners residing in Sweden has gone from 4% of the population to nearly 20% and that figure will continue to rise in the coming years. However, the largest non-Swedish group is compose of people from neighboring Finland, but there are also a contingent from Iraq of over 140,000. The Swedish experience is simply a manifestation of modern migrations which allow people from non-European lands to wind up in northern climes.

One can only wonder if the 140,000 Iraqis really wanted to live in Sweden or has the chaos of Iraq led Iraqi migrant to go to those nations having open doors for refugees from violence?

Human Rights And European Court

Among the most important developments in the quest to further human rights on planet Earth over the past fifty years has been the emergence of the European Court on Human Rights. For among the first times in history, there is a recognized court whose jurisdiction entails defending human rights of those who are being oppressed. Last year, the European Court on Human Rights issued 2,395 rulings on a wide spectrum of issues dealing with nations or groups which violate the human dignity of people. Turkey led the list of violators with 341 rulings against it and Russia was not that far behind with 210 negative decisions. Most of the cases dealt with violation of individual rights, mistreatment of prisoners and denial of due process.

The European Court on Human Rights is not a perfect example of how the world can handle oppression of people, but it represents an important first step on the path toward creating a world court which would protect individuals on every part of this planet when their rights are violated.

Dishonor Of Honor Killings

At least once a week or it could be daily, a story appears in a Muslim newspapers concerning a father or brother or uncle or whoever decided to take justice into his own hands and kill a wife or sister or daughter in order to avenge “family honor.” A 19 year old man in Jordan turned himself into the police and admitted he stabbed to death his 22 year old sister because she was absent from home too often without being able to explain where she was or what she was doing. The Jordan criminal code recognizes killing a delinquent member of the family can be regarded as an “honor killing” which automatically does not have it classified as deliberate murder. The young man undoubtedly will be out of jail years before he spends the 10 years to which he was sentenced.

As an outsider to the world of honor killing, my question is: are there occasions in which behavior of a male member of the family can be construed as violation of the family’s honor?

Saudi Justice –300 Lashes For No Male Guardian!

I am so proud that we Americans have Saudi Arabian ally in the war against evil terrorists. Imagine if terrorists gained control of Saudi Arabia and imposed their fundamentalist ideas upon the population! To show you who our Saudi ally really is, read on. A Saudi court sentenced a woman to a year and half in jail for coming to government offices to lodge a complaint against her husband WITHOUT HAVING A LEGAL MALE GUARDIAN ALONG!! She is upset at her husband and went to see authorities which is a calm and decent approach to handling a family problem. But, in dear old modern Saudi Arabia, coming to talk with men about a husband without the company of a male relative is a violation of every 15th century dictum of the Muslim religion. Or at least, that is the view of Saudi officials.

Oh, she will also receive 300 lashes for her terrible action. What can one say about such “allies?”

To Negotiate Or Not To Negotiate In Middle East?

President Obama in his State of the Union message discussed a wide variety of domestic and foreign policy issues, but conspicuous by its absence was any mention of the Israel-Palestinian conflict. President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority once again told America and the world it would not resume negotiations until Israel ceases housing construction in the West Bank and in east Jerusalem. He agreed to recognize Israel as a Jewish state if that was an item in the entire range of issues to be resolved for peace. He spoke honestly about why it was ridiculous to return to a bargaining table that had nothing to bargain about. “If Israel says in the meeting that it will not accept the 1967 borders and that it is not prepared to discuss Jerusalem and the refugee situation, what is there to talk about?”

The dilemma is no discussion can proceed on topics such as who rules east Jerusalem if Israel continues building homes for Jews and evicting Arabs. The actions of the current Netanyahu administration make impossible any meaningful discussions. President Abbas never said he was unwilling to discuss the West Bank and, perhaps, agree to some modifications of the 1967 boundary, but such concessions will only emerge after Israel ceases building. It is in the best interests of Israel to halt construction and negotiate with Abbas about territorial modifications.

Let’s Not Burqa Down Says Sweden

Swedish political leaders refuse to become caught up in the anti-burqa, niqab controversy which has engulfed France. The French Parliament has condemned wearing of these garments and charged anyone who covers the face is somehow threatening the very existence of French culture. Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt made clear he opposed any such actions and “that’s not something I want” or will support for Sweden. He spoke in response to a discussion in his nation’s parliament where some members expressed support for banning the burqa and niqab. As Reindfeldt noted, any “such legislation shouldn’t lead to certain women being isolated even more from Swedish society.”

If a Muslim women wears either of these garments, she is active in society. The fear is passing such legislation might lead very conservative Muslim families to keep women at home and out of public participation.