Tuesday, October 31, 2006

"These are the things that happen"... when you let them

The civil war in France's streets finds a target that even the media cannot ignore, as the "gangs of youth" attack... the media.
From Yahoo! France, translated by myself:

A France 2 team assaulted in Clichy-sous-Bois

A team from the television station France 2 was assaulted at Clichy-sous-Bois, in Seine-Saint-Denis, by three hooded men armed with lead pipes, according to the administration of national police.
The assault took place around 3:30 pm in the neighborhood of Chene Pointu where 6 representatives from the station, of which two were interns, were in the middle of a report.
Two members of the team were beaten, among them the cameraman who was lightly wounded in the head and hospitalized. Two others took refuge in a firehouse. They were later taken to safety by police.

The team's car was damaged and the station's camera and two bags were stolen.
[Etienne Leenhardt,] France 2's adjuct director of information confirmed that a cameraman had been seriously injured and "hospitalized for several hours", without specifying further details of the assault.

"We try to do our job and, unfortunately, these are things that happen", [said Leenhardt.]
France 2's own website has a small notice of the assault, only this time the spokesman for the station mentions that the cameraman was "wounded to the head seriously enough to be hospitalized. He did not lose consciousness, but his head would was quite deep."
And so, with a gallic shrug of the shoulders, these are the things that happen, in France.
C'est la vie!

Pumpkin photos anyone?

Monday, October 30, 2006

Mass rape in downtown Cairo

Police do nothing; the authorities and MSM turn a blind eye. Reports here and here.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Is Iran really fooling anyone?

Can there really be someone who believes Iran at their word, or might it be more that the majority of people have become so nihilistic, that they just don't care, just don't want to be bothered, and therefore take no heed of headlines like ....

Iran doubles nuke enrichment capacity

TEHRAN, Iran -- Iran has doubled its capacity to enrich uranium by successfully executing the process with a second network of centrifuges, a semiofficial news agency reported Friday, sending a defiant new message to the UN Security Council.

Council members are working on a draft resolution that would impose limited sanctions on the Islamic republic because of its refusal to cease enrichment, a process that can produce fuel for a civilian nuclear reactor or fissile material for a warhead.

French President Jacques Chirac, meanwhile, expressed support for sanctions against Iran but insisted that they be temporary and reversible.

In a separate report on Friday, [The Iranian Students News Agency] quoted Ali Larijani, Iran's top nuclear negotiator, as saying his country's enrichment program should not hinder negotiations with the West.
"It is possible to review both nuclear and regional issues through negotiation,'' Larijani was quoted as saying.
Larijani called for an open negotiation on the enrichment issue, and blamed the West of being irrational in its opposition to an Iranian nuclear program,
which Tehran says is geared toward purely civilian use.

The United States accuses Iran of secretly trying to build an atomic bomb under the guise of a civilian nuclear program. But
Iran denies this, saying its program is strictly for the generation of electricity.

Well, Mr. Larijani, some people may be forgiven for closely following the news and arriving at their own conclusions:

One year, three explosions and no justice

It’s now been one year since the terrorist attack in New Delhi on October 29 2005. Three explosions tore through the capital on that day:

  • The first explosion (Paharganj explosion) occurred outside Delhi Railway Station. … When the explosion took place large number of people were eating golgappas in the adjoining snacks-cum-sweet shop resulting in the high number of deaths in the area.

  • The Govindpuri explosion, which took place inside a bus, injured nine people, four critically. 35-40 people were travelling in the bus when the conductor of the bus spotted a suspicious plastic bag which none of the passengers claimed. The passengers were already suspicious as a man had climbed aboard the bus and refused to buy a ticket, according to the BBC, leaving his large, black bag aboard. The driver and conductor of the bus quickly alerted and disembarked the passengers and, by doing so, minimised the damage when the bomb was thrown out of a window. …

  • The third and the most devastating explosion took place in a very crowded corner of the busy Sarojini Nagar market. … The bomb went off near a vendor using a gas cylinder, which exploded, triggering multiple explosions and leading to an outbreak of fire in a row of shops….

The second bomb attack, targeting the innocent travelers on the bus, reveals the quick-thinking courage that the average man is capable of when fate calls upon them for it. The cost of that heroism: the hero's eyesight.

Among those who had come to pay their respects to the victims was Kuldeep Singh, the conductor of the ill-fated bus, who lost his eyesight while trying to throw away the bomb. His prompt action saved the lives of at least 70 passengers who were returning home after work. "Though I have lost my eyesight and my right hand in the blast, I have the satisfaction that I succeeded in saving the lives of many people," said Kuldeep Singh.

The evil of the attacks is horror aplenty, but sadly an additional spectre haunts the surviving victims and their families... no justice.

"Life has completely changed for us in the past one year," said Bhagwan Das, whose son Michael John Das, daughter-in-law Sunita and grand-daughter Elwin were among the 40 people killed after the bomb explosion at the bustling Sarojini Nagar market few days before Diwali last year.
..."Earlier we were a family of six but now we are only three left. We have still not been able to move on after the tragedy. My wife continues to be in a state of depression and her health is deteriorating every day," said Das as tears rolled down his eyes. ... He, however, added, "It is not easy to live when you know that those who killed your children have not been punished."
...."We want justice from the government. Why have they not taken any action against those involved in the blast?" asked Kavita Bhasin, who lost her mother, a sister and niece in the 29/10 blast. "These people who roam around in police protection have no value for the lives of innocent people who are killed in such cowardly acts," she added.
"The only thing given to us is compensation money. We are not beggars, we will contribute money and give it to ministers if their family members are killed by terrorists," she added before breaking down in tears.
"The politicians have no respect for human lives. They have insulted our family members by not taking any action to nab those involved in the blast," she said.
Similar reactions came from Manisha who lost her eight-month-old daughter in the blast. "It is painful to see that the government has done little to prevent such attacks. We have lost our loved ones and we want those involved in the blast to be brought to the book."

"We want justice for them so that their souls can rest in peace," she said.

We all do. Except leftist elites, evidently, who think throwing money at shattered people with deep holes in their lives can somehow suffice in soothing their grief. That alert bus conductor wasn't thinking of a raise when he risked his life to toss a probable bomb out his vehicle's window... he was thinking of his humanity, and the common bond he shares with the other riders on his bus.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Al-Qaeda targets Canada

Some unsurprising news in the National Post this morning, as jihadists, furious with Canada for helping to give Afghanistan citizens the freedom to vote, for believing that Afghan women deserve the right to an education, and for killing the Taliban terrorists before they can kill us, are now targeting our country for a bloody attack:

OTTAWA - An al-Qaeda strategist has warned Canada to withdraw its troops
from Afghanistan or face terrorist attacks similar to 9/11, Madrid and the
London transit bombings.
The threat, attributed to a member of the al-Qaeda information and strategy committee, condemns Prime Minister Stephen Harper for refusing to pull out of Afghanistan.
It also refers to Canada's "fanatic adherence to Christianity" as well as its purported attempts to "damage the Muslims" and its support for the "Christian Crusade" against al-Qaeda.

"Despite the strong, increasing opposition to spread its forces in the fire of South Afghanistan, it seems that they will not learn the lesson easily," Hossam Abdul Raouf writes.
"They will either be forced to withdraw their forces or face an operation similar to New York, Madrid, London and their sisters, with the help of Allah."
The document, written in July, was obtained and translated by the
SITE Institute, a U.S. non-profit group that monitors terrorist Web sites for clients, many of them in government.
It is the second reference in recent weeks to al-Qaeda singling out Canada because of its role in Afghanistan. Last month, Osama bin Laden's deputy, Ayman Al-Zawahiri,
referred to Canadian troops in Kandahar as "second-rate Crusaders."

The text of the threat suggests that
al-Qaeda is aware of divisions within Canada over the mission, pointing to public opinion polls and opposition within Parliament.
It is also consistent with analysis by Canadian intelligence officials who report that al-Qaeda views Canada as a "priority target" because of the country's high-profile role in Afghanistan and its close relationship with the United States in the war on terrorism.
"Despite the differences between the Canadian foreign policy and its U.S. counterpart, and despite
the hatred the Canadian people harbour towards the Americans -- their bad neighbours who cannot hold back their damage from them -- they agree with them regarding leading the Christian Crusade in Afghanistan and confronting al-Qaeda there," it says.
"Its fanatic adherence to Christianity makes it rush to the financial aid of any issue that will damage the Muslims and strengthen their enemies," the 66-page document claims.
The threat was posted on Arabic-language jihadist Web forums commonly used to disseminate al-Qaeda-related training and propaganda materials.

Being called a "second rate crusader" stings my pride, but honestly, the shoe fits... years of military cutbacks under the liberals have not exactly left Canada standing as a modern-day Order of the Knights Templar......

When the Roman emperor Hadrian built his Wall across England, it was not so much a fence as it was to be a dam, strung across the center of a hostile enemy's land, and not at its frontier. Meant as a military disruption of the enemy's strength, through a dismemberment of the enemy's lands, today's equivalent in Iraq and Afghanistan aims to weaken our enemy just as occured in Hadrian's time. With a significant difference: our mileforts are nascent democracies, and these eggs need nurturing now more than ever, as the enemy reveals the depth of their evil.

We must continue to keep faith in the belief that staying the course in the beleaguered nation of Afghanistan can make a difference, for the better, in their lives, but especially in ours, by crippling the jihadists future strength through dismemberment of their current nests.

Withdrawing or strengthening our presence in Afghanistan would not make one iota of difference to minds like theirs. The jihadists want to attack us no matter what we do, because it is who we are that, ultimately, bothers them so. Prosperous through our ennoblement of labor and self-sacrifice, free through our capacity for trust in our fellow citizens, and optimistic through our awareness of the existence of progress... that there will always be something better to become. These are the mysterious strengths that place us above them, and we are resented for it.

"Fanatical adherence to Christianity", indeed! I would beam with pride if we could sincerely boast that Canada even remained a mildly-interested-in-Christianity nation. At least this latest al-qaeda threat can reveal even more starkly the clear contrast between us and them: one single raindrop is the equivalent of a lake for these extremists, such is the depth of their intolerance and hatred. And envy.

Hopefully this latest noise from the enemy will ensure that our mission in Afghanistan does not degenerate into a second-rate Hadrian's Wall, one that crumbles under the weight of modern-day barbarians determined to be through our gates. Canada must come together to admit the enemy is evil, that the enemy must be challenged in his home, and must be prevented from poisoning our own.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Knowing Love

Is there a deeper love than that which a parent feels for their child?
It's incredible to think about the responsibilities that we place upon ourselves, the sacrifices we make, the sense of devotion we feel, towards ensuring that our children live better lives than our own.
It is a cycle of progress that we simply take for granted, that we will be better off than our parents were, that we in turn would do more for our kids than had been done for us.
We expect nothing less from ourselves, than to discover how to love our children more, than we were loved as children.

Or do we?

I still remember looking into the eyes of a classmate in my early high school years, a kid who's parents didn't love him. They didn't hate him, they just didn't love him; they didn't care one way or the other whether he lived or died, and had told him so. When I tried to talk to him, he would matter-of-factly relate why he never made friends, why he constantly skipped classes, why he wrecked his body and mind with the things he put into it; he hadn't been taught to care.
There was nothing in those eyes as they looked out into ours; there was a coldness, an empty indifference that chilled my 13-year old soul.

The lesson I learned, but constantly forget and keep having to relearn...: caring, connecting, loving, are acts that are taught as much as they are learned.

Reminder - Covenant Zone welcomes all readers to our Thursday meetings

We meet in the atrium of the Vancouver Public Library, central branch, outside Blenz coffee, 7-9pm. This week we will continue our discussions into the nature of the Canadian covenant we wish to renew. We will also be discussing the American conservative writer, Thomas Sowell.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

France: The Party's Over

As a child, I was lucky to learn French as well as English in school. It's a beautiful language. Say what you want about France, but it is a pleasure to speak french, there's a majestic rhythm to the flow of the words; I should miss it, were it to go.
As a teen, I read much about France, marveling at its history, discovering the glory in its past. Say what you want about the french, but they have inherited a wonderful legacy; I would miss it, were it to go.
As an adult, today, I read much about France, her problems, her mistakes; the nation, and its people, find themselves at a crossroads. Which turn shall they take? Do they have the memory that I have, of France?
I shall miss them, should those memories go.

Where Are You?

The fate of a nation resting on the resolve to an idea.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Two solutions for France

Another day, another civil war battle in France. Sunday's skirmish involved a rebel band of approximately 30 "youths" having their way with French transit:

Youths set passenger bus alight in Paris

A band of up to 30 youths forced passengers out of a bus in a southern Paris suburb in broad daylight, set it on fire and then stoned firefighters who came to the rescue, a police official said.
District police chief Jean-Francois Papineau called Sunday's bus attack "deliberate". He said the vehicle was forced to stop at a road block at about 2 pm. Two youths then entered the back of the bus to clear out passengers before dousing it with petrol and setting it ablaze.
When firefighters arrived, the youths began stoning them, he said....The local prefecture said nearly 30 youths were involved in the incident.

[Now, a study in contrasts. First (from later in the same article), the reaction of the elites currently holding the reigns of power (well, officially, anyway): ]

...France's minister for social cohesion, Jean-Louis Borloo, called on citizens to act responsibly because "tensions are raw just as we're in the process of resolving the difficulties".

The government has since provided funds and enacted numerous measures in a bid to reverse the situation. However, the problem remains entrenched, and there are no concrete signs that daily violence has diminished.

[Borloo said] it could take three or four years to see concrete results from the efforts his government has put in place, which he called "a sort of enormous Marshall Plan", in reference to the project to rebuild Europe after World War II.
Speaking on Europe-1 radio, he called on "parents, associations, mayors, all (those involved)" in the suburbs to "act responsibly" to avoid a new explosion.
"Authority is clearly needed but we also need dialogue and respect, much more than we had in those neighbourhoods," he said.

I'm not sure just what kind of portfolio a "social cohesion minister" carries... but as a welcome contrast to his begging for "respect" and "responsibility", we found a press conference offered by the Mouvement Pour La France (MPF), the political party headed by Phillipe de Villiers, the centrist conservative presidential candidate, of whom we have written from time to time.

From the party's official website (from where I've made this quick translation):

During his press conference at the national headquarters of the MPF, [party spokesman] Guillaume Peltier today asked for the establishment of a "preventative curfew" for minors in order to prevent new violence, one year after the urban riots of 2005. "The principle of the curfew, which must last as long as necessary, must be decided by the government, but the zones of application must be defined with the prefects or the mayors", Peltier said. [He goes on to describe the MPF's "Urban plan": it...] aims at "reconquering the lost territories of the Republic", and comprises, likewise, the application of the principle of "zero immigration", of "zero tolerance" on matters of security, judicial reform with "the creation of assured penalties in order to fight against the feeling of impunity", and the the establishing of an hour of "patriotic education" per week in the schools.
"Reconquering" vs "respecting"... "zero tolerance" vs "dialog"... "curfew as of today" vs "an enormous Marshall Plan with results in three or four years"... and "patriotic education" vs a "social cohesion ministry"...

If I were French, I know who I'd be voting for in next year's election... especially if I had to take a bus to work every day.

Auntie's White Guilt

Via Melanie Phillips:
A leaked account of an 'impartiality summit' called by BBC chairman Michael Grade, is certain to lead to a new row about the BBC and its reporting on key issues, especially concerning Muslims and the war on terror.
At the secret meeting in London last month, which was hosted by veteran broadcaster Sue Lawley, BBC executives admitted the corporation is dominated by homosexuals and people from ethnic minorities, deliberately promotes multiculturalism, is anti-American, anti-countryside and more sensitive to the feelings of Muslims than Christians.

One veteran BBC executive said: 'There was widespread acknowledgement that we may have gone too far in the direction of political correctness.' Unfortunately, much of it is so deeply embedded in the BBC's culture, that it is very hard to change it.'

In one of a series of discussions, executives were asked to rule on how they would react if the controversial comedian Sacha Baron Cohen known for his offensive characters Ali G and Borat - was a guest on the programme Room 101. On the show, celebrities are invited to throw their pet hates into a dustbin and it was imagined that Baron Cohen chose some kosher food, the Archbishop of Canterbury, a Bible and the Koran. Nearly everyone at the summit, including the show's actual producer and the BBC's head of drama, Alan Yentob, agreed they could all be thrown into the bin, except the Koran for fear of offending Muslims.

In a debate on whether the BBC should interview Osama Bin Laden if he approached them, it was decided the Al Qaeda leader would be given a platform to explain his views.
And the BBC's 'diversity tsar', Mary Fitzpatrick, said women newsreaders should be able to wear whatever they wanted while on TV, including veils. Ms Fitzpatrick spoke out after criticism was raised at the summit of TV newsreader Fiona Bruce, who recently wore on air a necklace with a cross.

The full account of the meeting shows how senior BBC figures queued up to lambast their employer. Political pundit Andrew Marr said: 'The BBC is not impartial or neutral. It's a publicly funded, urban organisation with an abnormally large number of young people, ethnic minorities and gay people. It has a liberal bias not so much a party-political bias. It is better expressed as a cultural liberal bias.'

Washington correspondent Justin Webb said that the BBC is so biased against America that deputy director general Mark Byford had secretly agreed to help him to 'correct', it in his reports. Webb added that the BBC treated America with scorn and derision and gave it 'no moral weight'.

Former BBC business editor Jeff Randall said he complained to a 'very senior news executive', about the BBC's pro-multicultural stance but was given the reply: 'The BBC is not neutral in multiculturalism: it believes in it and it promotes it.' Randall also told how he once wore Union Jack cufflinks to work but was rebuked with: 'You can't do that, that's like the National Front!' Quoting a George Orwell observation, Randall said that the BBC was full of intellectuals who 'would rather steal from a poor box than stand to attention during God Save The King'.

There was another heated debate when the summit discussed whether the BBC was too sensitive about criticising black families for failing to take responsibility for their children. Head of news Helen Boaden disclosed that a Radio 4 programme which blamed black youths at a young offenders', institution for bullying white inmates faced the axe until she stepped in. But Ms Fitzpatrick, who has said that the BBC should not use white reporters in non-white countries, argued it had a duty to 'contextualise' why black youngsters behaved in such a way.

Andrew Marr told The Mail on Sunday last night: 'The BBC must always try to reflect Britain, which is mostly a provincial, middle-of-the-road country. Britain is not a mirror image of the BBC or the people who work for it.' Daily Mail
So, the question for the day: what do you call people who are forced to pay - via licenses on every tv set - for a media outfit that promotes worldwide hatred of these very same people who are footing the bill? Melanie calls it cultural Stalinism. But I doubt we yet have words adequately to describe this evil and wide-ranging resentment of a given reality.

UPDATE, in the comments, an anonymous person challenges me to post this link, a response by the BBC's Helen Boaden to the Daily Mail article quoted above. My response to Helen Boaden's nonsensical response can be found in the comments to this CZ post.

Friday, October 20, 2006

France falls, again; who will follow?

Historian Richard Landes has a blog full of material on the Mohammed Al-Durah affair in France. A court has just found that a French Jew who demonstrated, pretty believably to my mind, that a French journalist and tv network were engaged in fauxtography in 2000 and were thus somewhat responsible for the storm of Palestinian violence and worldwide Judeophobia that followed their "reportage", was actually being libellous. Since his opponents didn't even try to make their case, it seems the fix was in. People are calling this a repeat of the Dreyfuss affair; but this time with the Jew being judicially damned. Will France soon follow into Hades? Landes has background, here; and responses to the verdict here and here.

It is really hard to keep up optimism for France. However, every next step they take into the delusional, the closer they come either to destroying themselves for ever more, or to waking up and seeing the need for yet another republic and reformation. Who's to know where the latest leap into the mental illness of Judeophobia will take them. Will enough French start to fight for courts and state tv and politicians with some grasp on reality? Or will they give up, damn Israel and America, and turn over the nukes to those who will?

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Covenant Zone meets Every Thursday

We meet, 7-9 pm, in the atrium of the Vancouver Public Library, central branch. Curious about what will hold Canada together in future? Join us in the political discussion that really matters. We are to be found in front of Blenz coffee - look for the blue scarves and my Covenant Zone cap.

Bravo Mr. Harper!

Prime Minister Harper once again amazes me with how unlike the rest of the politicians he is. Where countless would hem and haw, blurring differences to gain points in today's Canada where Israel is widely (and wrongly) seen as victimizing its Arab neighbours, a Canada whose present politics is suffused (and hence corrupted) with trade in victim figures, Mr. Harper just speaks plain truth and refuses to trade. His is a commitment to moral clarity that is so refreshing, not the least because he will not pander very much to the many irrational pieties spoken in the name of Canada's pre-eminent, but nonetheless incoherent, ideology: multiculturalism, the ideology in which one is not supposed to favor a strong, western democracy and nationalism over its immiserated Other, no matter how psychotically totalitarian and murderous is the Other's ideology, as is Hezbollah's and much of the Arab world's.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper has defended his staunch support of Israel's war against Hezbollah militants, in front of a receptive audience of B'nai Brith Canada members.

"When it comes to dealing with a war between Israel and a terrorist organization, this country and this government cannot and will not be neutral," Harper told the Toronto crowd.

Harper came under fire during the war for calling Israel's invasion of Lebanon a "measured response" against Hezbollah militants, who captured two Israeli soldiers in a cross-border raid in July.

"This summer, we were mercilessly attacked by the Opposition for the position we took on the Middle East," said Harper.

"I understand that with the news reports of the day, and the sound of battle, the images of destruction and the suffering of innocents, that it is sometimes difficult to see and keep the focus on what is truly at stake.

"But the fact is this: those who attacked Israel, and those who sponsored such attacks ... seek the destruction of Israel of the destruction of the Jewish people."

Harper has used his staunch support of Israel to attack the Liberal leadership candidates, whom he recently accused of taking "anti-Israel" positions.

That accusation was partly in response to a comment made by Michael Ignatieff. He argued that an Israeli strike on the Lebanese village of Qana, in which 28 civilians died, was a war crime.

Last week, B'Nai Brith called on interim Liberal Leader Bill Graham to distance his party from Michael Ignatieff's remarks.

Ignatieff has since said it would be up to international bodies to determine whether a war crime was committed. And during an impassioned speech in Toronto last Friday, Ignatieff fired back at Harper for what he called a disgraceful personal attack.

"Stephen Harper used my statement that war crimes were committed in this (Mideast) conflict to launch a personal attack on me and on my colleagues running for the Liberal leadership of Canada. Mr. Harper's comments were a disgrace, a disgrace for a man who holds an office that is supposed to represent all Canadians," he said.

"There is no basis whatever for Mr. Harper to suggest that the Liberal party is biased against Israel. The prime minister showed a profound lack of respect to the Official Opposition and a profound lack of respect to the Canadian people who elected them." Link...
Well now, Mr. Ignatieff, the ball is back in your court. How exactly can the pandering in your party, including that of your campaign co-chair, Denis Coderre, to anti-Israel opinion on the question of the recent war not be construed as evidence of a more general anti-Israel opinion? Can you really feign neutrality in a war between a modern western democracy and a totalitarian terrorist organization that hides among civilians whose lives it will sacrifice with little thought, in the name of some apocalyptic fantasy ideology? You say you are a friend of Israel but that you must criticize its methods when Israel crosses some line. So how would you respond to Alan Dershowitz's clear explanation that your calling Israel guilty of war crimes is ludicrous? Let me remind you what Dershowitz says:
Ignatieff has surely seen the videos and other indisputable evidence that Hezbollah was launching rockets from areas near the building that Israel bombed. He surely knows that Israeli intelligence was completely unaware that Lebanese civilians were hiding in the building. He cannot reasonably believe that the Israeli air force deliberately intended to kill the civilians in the building. Why then would he characterize the resulting tragedy as a "war crime?"

There are several possible answers. The first is that he simply misspoke in the course of an interview in which he wanted to make up for his past misstatement. If that is the case, he should be accused only of carelessness. The second possible explanation has far greater implications for his candidacy to lead a great political party.

It is possible that he believes that even if the Israeli killing of Lebanese civilians was an unintended consequence of its efforts to prevent rocket attacks against its own civilians, it was still a war crime. Such a view would reflect a perverse and dangerous approach to international law that would make it nearly impossible for democracies to protect its civilians from terrorists who launch rockets from civilian population centres. It would also encourage other terrorist groups to emulate the tactic employed by Hezbollah in its recent war against Israel: to use local civilians as human shields behind whom the terrorists fire their rockets at enemy civilians. This gives the democracy only two choices: to protect its civilians by destroying the rocket launchers even if that means some civilians will inevitably be killed; or do nothing and allow its own civilians to be targeted. Faced with this choice of evils imposed by the terrorist, every democracy would chose to protect its own civilians, as Israel did.
Finally, Mr. Ignatieff, if you become Prime Minister, how do you propose to protect us from a totalitarian enemy that is growing in this world, even here in Canada? Will you just blame Israel and America and hope the crocodile eats us last? Or will you grow a spine like Harper's once the season of pandering - to what I can only honestly call the anti-Israel sentiment in your party - is over? We might argue over how general is this anti-Israel sentiment, or how specifically it is related to recent events. But to deny that some such sentiment is out there is to deny reality; and to get all self-righteous, as did all the Liberal leadership front runners, that Mr. Harper pointed to this ugly reality is childish grandstanding. Is that what we want in a Prime Minister?

I promised last week to say more about Bob Rae's non-policy on the Middle East. I hope to get to that soon to show that there is indeed a problem general to the Liberal party, and not just to one of its leadership candidates.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Worshipping the wrong idol in the Horn of Africa

More trouble brewing in the Horn of Africa.
This corner of the world tends to receive only sporadic attention in the western media… maybe it’s time to start paying much more attention.

Courtesy of afrol news:

17 October - An internal document shows that Somalia's new Islamist rulers have decided to send suicide bombers to the neighbouring peaceful self-proclaimed state of Somaliland. Their aim is to topple the elected Hargeisa government. The Islamists have already staged violent demonstrations in Somaliland to destabilise the government.

In a decision signed by Sheikh Dahir Aways, the most radical leader of the Mogadishu Islamists … the Shura Council of the Union of Islamic Courts (UIC) decided to send 30 young assassins to Hargeisa as suicide bombers to kill what they called the Jewish and American collaborators.

"The Shura Council of the Perseverance Alliance has decided to send 30 young martyrs to carry out explosions and killing of the Jewish and American collaborators in the northern regions," the document said.
[T]he decision blasts the Somaliland leadership for being apostates who reneged from Islam and opted to work with Jews and Americans at the expense of their nation and religion.

The Islamist council also decided to train 3000 young mujahids hailing from the northern regions, or Somaliland, that are currently living in the southern towns of Mogadishu, Kismayo and Guri Eel. These would later be dispatched to Somaliland, the document reveals.

A number of Somaliland clerics have also issued statements, calling for the Somaliland government to apply Islamic Sharia without any delay.

Somaliland, a former British colony that has unilaterally annulled its union with the rest of Somalia after the collapse of the Said Barre regime in 1991, has since then enjoyed a high degree of peace and stability. It also established a robust democratic system and held internationally observed presidential and parliamentary elections.
Scoffing at Somaliland's peace and stability, [Sheikh Dahir Aways] recently accused the Somaliland people of worshipping the wrong idol. "The Somaliland people forgot to worship Allah and instead worship an idol called Peace," he said in a statement to the media.

Curiously, this sentiment echoes that of an islamist arsonist, fresh from a rampage to curtail Somaliland free speech the day before:

A huge number of issues of Somaliland's independent daily 'Haatuf' newspaper were burned in the town of Buroa by extremists linked to the Islamist courts of Mogadishu in neighbouring Somalia. 'Haatuf' is highly critical on the Somali Islamist movement, terming them "terrorists", and was first to report on their Buroa-based Somaliland link.

One of the newspaper burners, Saeed Muse Faras, was also reported to have said after Friday players at a mosque in the Hodan neighbourhood of Buroa, "there is nothing sacred about Somaliland's unity, the only thing that is sacred is the Holy Book," according to 'Somaliland Times'.

Meanwhile the whole Horn of Africa seems to be descending into war:

In what the UN calls a "major ceasefire breach", Eritrea has moved some 1,500 troops and 14 tanks into the UN monitored buffer zone that separates it from Ethiopia […and] is reported to have breached the UN arms embargo on Somalia by supplying weapons to the well-funded Islamists.
Analysts earlier pointed out that this was an effort to distract Ethiopian forces from its ongoing conflict with Eritrea and incite a second front in Somalia. At the same time, Ethiopia for the first times in centuries is experiencing violence between Muslims and Christians in what seems to be well planned actions to cause hatred between the country's two major religious groups.

The parading peace-at-any-price protestors might do well to review the sacredness of their "peace", long enough to pay attention to what the forces of radical islam are doing to those who worship Peace and not allah.

UBC Humanities 101 - Reflections on what passes for our intellectual life

As noted in the previous post, last night I attended a panel discussion on the West and the Middle East hosted by UBC's Humanities 101 program for adults. The discussion at the Vancouver Public Library featured four speakers.

The first, Hadani Ditmars, a freelance journalist began by questioning the title for the evening’s discussion. Was the polarity she thought was implied by the title “a false construct”? After all, she alleged, the west has been much shaped in its cultural formation by the Arab and Muslim Middle East; and, in turn, the Middle East has been shaped by the West. She quoted something from Edward Said suggesting that power in such a relationship is all a question of discursive constructs; and so in questioning whether the evening’s title was a false construct she suggested that if we don’t like the realities of power in the world, it is up to us to construct an alternative, as if existential realities and the conflicts they engender could all be made better if only we committed ourselves to the constructs. These vague allusions to the seemingly magical power of discourse over reality were never really well explained.

Rather this speaker showed her facility in innuendo and coy irony, starting what appeared to be arguments only to leave them hanging in the wind, with the mere suggestion that what really matters is noting how power victimizes the powerless. Indeed, the apparent justification for her having a position at the front of the room, while everyone else quietly listened, was that she speaks for victims. The larger purpose of such a stance was not stated, lest it get in the way of what her innuendoes suggested: that the United States is the cause of much evil in the world. The mess in Iraq – what once was a rather westernized country, she claimed, a country that is now in chaos and witness to the growing power of Islamic fundamentalism – is the fault of the Americans destabilizing the country, creating a power vacuum in which insecurity reigns amid the destruction of libraries, museums and culture in general.

She painted herself as a victim at times, as someone who has “toured the belly of the beast” – i.e. America, and had to face down sundry accusations on talk radio, e.g. that she must have supported the reign of Saddam since she is so anti-American in her accounts of Middle East turmoil (one reviewer of her book accused her of a taste for totalitarian chic). What she really believes in terms of how to bring order to this very troubled region is not at all clear. However, she made much of comparing Canada favorably to the US, but with the suggestion that all our distinctive values that make us superior to the Americans are disappearing in the reign of Stephen Harper. Thanks to our positions on Afghanistan and the recent war in Lebanon, Canada is now becoming a target of resentment in the Middle East and we somehow need to rediscover our erstwhile position where we somehow stood above the conflicts of the world as a beacon of decency. Canada as morally righteous force of multicultural neutrality was indeed what she tried personally to represent, without explaining how neutrality is morally righteous.

The very real differences that are at the root of conflict can somehow be mediated if only we have the right attitude. She lauded a recent letter writer to the Globe and Mail who presented himself as a gay leather man defending the right of Muslim women to wear veils in public. Both contributed to the greater cultural mosaic of Canada; the possibility that the value systems behind gay culture and the veiling of women might be at some fundamental level incompatible was not broached. But none of the conflicts she briefly sketched were explored in depth. It was enough to point to the bad guys.

What really matters, it seems to Ditmars, is that we stand for victims and their rights. We were reminded that it was not until the 1940s that various racial minorities received the vote in Canada and that indeed aboriginal people had to wait until 1960. The point being, perhaps, that we are not much better than the countries we presume to reform? Any possible downside to a public culture in which victimary claims dominate was not discussed.

The second speaker, Deborah Campbell, another journalist and an adjunct professor at UBC was introduced as an expert on Iran where she has spent time as a reporter. She argued that the mainstream media has a blurred, narrow lens on the Middle East. Due to media concentration in the hands of a few corporations, we apparently only hear what the owners of media, like Canwest Global (whose Jewish owners she did not mention, though I imagine everyone knew who she was figuring) want us to hear. There are only six major media companies in the US, we were told, and some of them, like GE, are also arms makers with an interest in war. She implied there was some conspiracy at work to keep us from knowing the truth. You must do your own fact checking she told us and recommended newspapers such as the British papers, the Guardian and Independent, which she lauded for providing more than one point of view – i.e. for providing a leftist, anti-American view.

To someone like me who finds the mainstream media, including that owned by Canwest Global, dominated by left-liberal journalists, with a few exceptions, this seemed deluded: there was no evident difference in the outlook of Deborah Campbell compared to what I read in the MSM, despite what she implied. The fact that large corporations don’t really have a moral or political centre but are rather interested in selling for whatever there is a sizeable market – and in North America this means mostly left-liberal points of view – did not occur to her. She sees some conservative conspiracy at work, while I could only wish.

Campbell told us that there was much more to Iran, surprise surprise, that what we hear about in the media with their reports that largely focus on the insane rhetoric of President Ahmadinejad. Whether Ahmadinejad is or is not someone for us to be concerned about was not made clear. Rather we got a few allusions to a history in which the Americans were clearly the bad guys. Did we know that it was the Americans who helped start the Iranian nuclear program in the 1970s, during the rule of the Shah, and that Cheney and Rumsfeld had roles in making this happen, while Wolfowitz (oh the irony) was responsible for nuclear non-proliferation at the time? She pointed out that while the West is obsessed about Iran getting the bomb (I wonder why – might it have something to do with the apocalyptic rhetoric and apparent lust for a final conflict evidenced by its leaders?) they allow Israel, India, and Pakistan, all non-signers of the nuclear non-proliferation treaty, to get the bomb. Hypocrisy was implied. But why we should wish or imagine a world where all nations and regimes are deemed to be the moral equals of each other (with the exception of America), all with equal claim to nuclear weapons, was not explained. The very fact of treating one nation differently from others was supposedly enough to fill us with a sense of victimary scandal. It would be better for all and sundry to have nukes! This suggests a certain unreality in representing the conditions for human survival.

We were told that Saddam was once a friend of the US and that there has already been a regime change in Iran – in 1953 at the behest of the CIA, who overthrew a democratically elected government. This, she tells us, is the reason that the ordinary Iranians that our media supposedly never tell us about, tell her that they say “yes to democracy (and regime change) but no to American intervention.” Young people in Iran are demanding change… but how they are to get it without American intervention was not made clear. We were only told that it would be insane if America were to attempt to destroy the nuclear program or overthrow the Mullahs, since they don’t have the power at present to do it. What’s more, there is no proof that Iran even has a nuclear weapons program – we were reminded that the Americans who supposedly lied about WMD in Iraq are not to be trusted. The point of all this anti-American baiting in the name of their ostensible victims was not made clear. What she believes about demon nations, conflict, order, and the balance of power in the world is anyone’s guess, but she implied her right to speak at the front of the room because she, as a member of the progressive elect, knows the truth about victims that the mainstream media hide.

The next speaker, Hila Russ-Woodland, artist and educator, was quite a contrast to the previous two, for she was meek and had to fight for her words, full of emotion and uncertainty. She was the Jew on the panel, coming to Canada from Israel in 2001, and here finding herself having to defend Israel against critics who made her a personal target for their anti-Israel resentment. But if she is a defender of Israel, she gives the impression that she is nonetheless very much a defender of a left-liberal world view. The fact that so many on the left scapegoat Israel pains her very much, but it’s really not clear to what degree, if any, she accepts that Israel carries blame beyond that which clearly accrues to all of warring humanity.

She spoke of her work in various peace movements. Upon arrival in Canada she met “the peace walker”, Derek Walker, someone who apparently works for peace by going on long walks and engaging people in dialogue. He realized the power of one-on-one contact, and no longer trusting the media to tell us about reality. She invited Walker to go on a peace walk in Israel, and when he said yes, she suddenly found herself having to get busy and organize a walk from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

While her semi-depressed tone conveyed the sense of hopelessness she said she often feels, she was ultimately convinced that people can make a difference. She has organized various workshops in Canada for Israeli, Palestinian, and Canadian youth, where teens from the various sides of conflicts can meet and break the stereotypical ideas they have of each other. By working together, making films, etc., they can create fantastic group dynamics and learn about conflict resolution, while being inspired to be more pro-active. Just how Israelis and Palestinians can learn from this workshop model and find common projects together in future was not made clear, but the sincerity of her intent was evident.

The final speaker, political scientist and law professor, Michael Byers was the most intellectually ambitious but the most disappointing for this reason. He began and ended by name dropping, to tell us that his opinion is sought by people who matter. He was recently asked by one of Michael Ignatieff’s managers whether Ignatieff was right to say that the recent Israeli bombing at Qana was a war crime. But before telling us the answer, Byers assured us that he has no vested interest on either side of the recent conflict in Lebanon. He comes at these questions “objectively” you see. Just how it is possible for someone as aware as him to remain morally neutral when many people are dying in a conflict was not made clear, though Byers certainly made it clear that he sees himself as the defender of some higher (international) law whose intent is to defend innocent civilians from the violence of war. In short, he is basically against war. Again, how this position is compatible with reality or morality was not made clear. Apparently it should be obvious to all of us that war is bad, peace is good.

He went on about how he had taught Israeli military officers (great people, members of a “wonderful, surreal country” ) international law in 2004 and discussed with their Commanding Officer, at a luncheon, the right of Israel to bomb Hezbollah rocket facilities. Instead of flirting with the attractive colonel (try thinking about doing that with a Hezbollah commander, Michael), he was forced to answer her businesslike questions. An attack on Hezbollah could only be justified under international law, he said, by the right of self defense, a right which must meet requirements of imminent necessity and proportionality – i.e. pre-emptive attacks were wrong, and any attack that did more than destroy a threatening military target were illegal. Since Lebanon is a sovereign country, Israel could not target anything in Lebanon that wasn’t specifically Hezbollah’s – i.e. there could be no wider attack on Lebanese infrastructure. He insisted that a fundamental rule of international law is that all war must be in self defense and civilians must be protected from harm. Just what was the authority behind this international law was not made clear – but we inferred that it was the product of progressive men like Michael Byers having come together in the past at places like Geneva and the Hague to write and conventions and having government officials sign them.

Anyway, while Israel apparently attacked Hezbollah in a way that met Byers’ approval in 2004, this was not the case in 2006. In the recent war, Israel clearly did not meet the requirements of necessity and proportionality in justifying self-defense. However, he could not tell Michael Ignatieff’s man outright that Qana was a war crime because he did not know enough about that event – unlike Ignatieff, Michael Byers is a politically smart guy and he knows that “the massacre at Qana” has been exposed as, in some good part, a creation of Hezbollah propaganda. Nonetheless, Byers is sure that Israel committed war crimes. However, Byers adds, so did Hezbollah in its indiscriminate rocket attacks against civilian targets.

In any case, Byers was devastated to hear Tony Blair and Stephen Harper defend Israel’s right to protect itself by going to war in Lebanon. International law, the conscience of mankind, must rule over such men. Just why that is so was not made clear. Under what sovereign authority is international law articulated? Is there anyone who can legitimately enforce it, and if there is, under what kind of vision of reality do they claim the right? The fact that the moral suasion of those who shout about international law probably had something to do with bringing the recent war in Lebanon and Israel to a temporary stalemate – but only sure to lead to more war in future, given the lack of a clear victor on one side or the other - did not seem to be a question to raise. That international law might lead to more war, not less, would be a suggestion beyond the kin of Byer’s discourse.

He condemned Canada’s democratically-elected leader for saying that Israel’s approach to the war was measured; and he claimed a staggering failure of leadership that Canada is not involved in the United Nation’s UNIFIL peacekeeping force in Lebanon. Just why Canada should assume neutrality in a conflict between a democratic western nation and a terrorist entity bent on tyranny, chaos, and wiping Israel off the map was not made clear. It’s just that endless ceasefires and peacekeeping is somehow more humane that bringing wars to some final conclusion, it seems.

War is hell after all; and I am very sincere in recognizing this. Byers apparently figures that humanity can realize some dream where there is no hell on earth. But what if this dream only creates more hell by dint of encouraging fantasies that are at odds with reality?

Byers, who writes for the London Review of Books, went on to defend the recent controversial article in that journal by Stephen Walt and John Mearsheimer. The ludicrous anti-Semitic and anti-American conspiracy theories of these two were much criticized and this criticism in turn led Byers to suggest that while there is something of a politically correct climate in which Israel cannot be criticized (is this guy living in the same reality as I, I wonder) he was brave enough to do so, in the name of humanity and civilians who suffer in wars. How this comment squared with his opening remark that he doesn’t take sides in the conflict, I just don’t know.

The moderator for the evening, Am Johal, Director of Public Programs and Outreach, UBC Humanities 101, then posed two series of three questions for the speakers. By asking three questions simultaneously, with the appearance of pointing to various moral and intellectual conflicts and competing imperatives in our discussions of human rights and war, he showed some sign of wanting to raise the intellectual level of the discussion. But what he was really doing was making gestures to the day when universities had serious discussions, but actually allowing the panelists to avoid answering any of the three questions that might put them on the spot, letting them go on with whatever thoughts they felt comfortable emoting. The present-day etiquette in which it is most uncool to challenge anyone (‘cept a Yankee imperialist) directly with tough questions was preserved.

Only three questions – and again, they were solicited simultaneously, so that the panelists could avoid them – were taken from the audience. (Nonetheless the panelists lauded themselves afterwards on a good discussion that avoided the heated debates that often sully discourse on the Middle East). The first question was full of antisemitic innuendo, with Israel portrayed as the world’s greatest human rights violator (tell it in the Congo or Sudan, dearie!). The second was the only somewhat pointed question of the night: a young man asked Byers whether “international law” was somehow na├»ve or unrealistic since it made demands of Israel that even those on the extreme left of Israeli public opinion deemed unrealistic. Byers didn’t, to his credit, take the opportunity presented by the format to avoid the question. He simply replied with the question, would you rather live in a world without international law? He wouldn’t want to risk it. However utopian the idea of international law might seem, he suggested, at least it put some restraints on the powerful. But just who are the powerful in a world where unelected “progressive” elites like Michael Byers can pronounce on international law and on who is and is not committing war crimes? To whom do international law makers and their media publicists answer? How is this elect group of lawyers who promise to minimize war and protect the innocent constituted? The greater question of whether utopian notions like international law and world peace might constitute a fantasy ideology that actually acts to prolong and exacerbate conflicts was not raised. Rather, the responsibility of the powerful nations to impose order on the world was implicitly denied. The powerful cannot be trusted. Only those who deny they are powerful while monopolizing public venues in the name of defending victims can apparently be trusted.

The panelists all seemed to agree that Canada’s stature in the world is disintegrating. Everyone they know in the Middle East is telling them this. We are now viewed as victimizers. The fact that those who trade in figures of victimization are a vain, uncentred, and unforgiving lot, who will naturally turn on Canada, the minute it chooses to take sides (especially with the USA) in a conflict, does not worry me, but it surely did worry our panelists. To them Canada should not have strong allies and enemies. Canada should rather be some kind of multicultural empire where a special elite, people like themselves, rule with some mysterious ability to find a way beyond conflict among the various groups - thus allowing for multiculturalism by dictating from on high the terms and laws by which all shall be ruled together. In contrast, if all Canadians were to share together in ruling themselves, i.e. aspiring to some common national purpose that any or all might try to represent to any other member of the nation, we would be sure to begin to recognize our natural allies and enemies, and thus come into conflict with non-Canadian peoples other than Americans. So, it was implied that we should have no national purpose beyond keeping ceasefires; we should not really rule ourselves, but would do better to defer to the victim-trading of our post-national elites. Right now we are apparently seen, in the victimary markets of the world, as too much victimizers, and not enough as nice guys. We need again the kind of governing elites who will return us to our lot as peacekeepers, helping keep conflicts in balance, indecisive, with all sides, except America, equally to blame for the war that comes when peacemakers and the UN rule the world’s “moral” stage.

That there may be virtue in some nations being leaders and others followers only occurs to our panelists in the context of nations leading the cause to rid the world of clear-cut winners and losers. The implications of this for those who would take a lead in human creativity (and hence in creating differences and temporary inequalities) – the only real alternative to endless conflict – were beyond the concerns of our panelists.

Byers told us that Canadian soldiers in Afghanistan, while legally bound not to criticize their mission, are nonetheless telling reporter David Grammaticus that they don’t know why they are there and that they want to go home. Those soldiers who we hear saying things otherwise in the Canadian media are, apparently, simply toeing the line of what can be said without damaging your career. What we hear in the media is not the truth; we need a Gnostic elect like our panelists to set us straight for they know the secrets that are hidden to ordinary mortals. Byers closed the night with an anecdote. His friend, Dawn Black, an NDP Member of Parliament, was recently named by NDP leader, Jack Layton, as the party’s defense critic. Apparently, Dawn knows nothing about defense but was named just because she is the smartest cookie in the NDP caucus. So Dawn phones up her pal, Professor Michael Byers, to ask him what she needs to know. “All I know is that peace is good and war is bad” says Dawn. Byers fawningly replies: “Dawn, you’ll be just fine.”

So there you have it: you can be considered smart if you know nothing about war and conflict, ‘cept that war is bad and peace is good. Peace is good, isn’t it? But what if sometimes the road to peace goes through war? What if those whose only thought is that war is bad help create more war than peace in this world by letting conflicts grow instead of allowing them to be fought out, sooner rather than later? I agree with Thomas Sowell, as quoted in the previous post, that that is exactly what our would-be peacemakers often do. This was a panel of people immersed in well-meaning fantasy ideologies in which a vague utopian vision is substituted for a spiritual struggle over our fears of individual and social mortality, and the struggle of human existence as it actually is. No one on the panel actually attempted to suggest what is at the root of our conflicts – ‘cept that the USA or Israel is somehow to blame for everything, ‘cause they are the imperial war lords.

One of the three permitted questioners was a young man who went on about Jungian archetypes and the need to understand the psychological dimensions of our warring nature. He received some reassurance from Deborah Campbell that we really do have to get at the psychological causes of conflict. That fact that conflict and all that is fundamental to humanity cannot be reduced to questions of individual psychology (or similarly, to scapegoats, like the USA), precisely because these are anthropological questions - our humanity is constituted on a shared scene, in a communal reality that prefigures the individual psychology - was the kind of fact that was far from the minds of these people.

Rather, they were lords of postmodern victimary discourse. But of course they did not explore the nature of this discourse itself. They did not raise the question of how it is that people like them who claim authority in the name of victims dominate our universities and journalism. To raise the question would be to locate themselves in history and thus to question the locus of authority they implicitly claim. Is human freedom really maximized - is peace and not war encouraged - when we have elites whose primary care is to trade in figures of victimhood? There exist today many good arguments that freedom and peace is not so maximized. Stay tuned to Covenant Zone to learn more. You are unlikely to hear about it from the folks at UBC Humanities 101.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Thomas Sowell

As part of our continuing program of Covenant Zone interventions in our public life, this article by Thomas Sowell was handed out at the Vancouver Public Library on the occasion of the
UBC Humanities 101: Undercurrents Public Forum on The West and the Middle East
A program for Adults

A wide ranging discussion on the west and the middle east. Speakers: Hadani Ditmars, journalist and author; Deborah Campbell, writer and UBC adjunct professor; Michael Byers, UBC professor; Hila Russ-Woodland, artist and educator.
Speakers will be:

* Hadani Ditmars, journalist and author
* Deborah Campbell, writer and UBC adjunct professor
* Michael Byers, UBC professor
* Hila Russ-Woodland, artist and educator.

The discussion will be moderated by Am Johal, Director of Public Programs and Outreach, UBC Humanities 101.
Since we are led to believe, by a poster publicizing this event, that this will be a forum that will promote "pacifist" and anti-Israel opinions, we felt a need for someone to show up in support of an alternative point of view. Immediately below, I reproduce the Sowell article, and then I'll add some comments of my own. When I return from the public forum tonight, I'll add some thoughts in the comments. (UPDATE: see my comments here.)
July 21, 2006
Pacifists versus Peace
By Thomas Sowell

One of the many failings of our educational system is that it sends out into the world people who cannot tell rhetoric from reality. They have learned no systematic way to analyze ideas, derive their implications and test those implications against hard facts.

"Peace" movements are among those who take advantage of this widespread inability to see beyond rhetoric to realities. Few people even seem interested in the actual track record of so-called "peace" movements -- that is, whether such movements actually produce peace or war.

Take the Middle East. People are calling for a cease-fire in the interests of peace. But there have been more cease-fires in the Middle East than anywhere else. If cease-fires actually promoted peace, the Middle East would be the most peaceful region on the face of the earth instead of the most violent.

Was World War II ended by cease-fires or by annihilating much of Germany and Japan? Make no mistake about it, innocent civilians died in the process. Indeed, American prisoners of war died when we bombed Germany.

There is a reason why General Sherman said "war is hell" more than a century ago. But he helped end the Civil War with his devastating march through Georgia -- not by cease fires or bowing to "world opinion" and there were no corrupt busybodies like the United Nations to demand replacing military force with diplomacy.

There was a time when it would have been suicidal to threaten, much less attack, a nation with much stronger military power because one of the dangers to the attacker would be the prospect of being annihilated.

"World opinion," the U.N. and "peace movements" have eliminated that deterrent. An aggressor today knows that if his aggression fails, he will still be protected from the full retaliatory power and fury of those he attacked because there will be hand-wringers demanding a cease fire, negotiations and concessions.

That has been a formula for never-ending attacks on Israel in the Middle East. The disastrous track record of that approach extends to other times and places -- but who looks at track records?

Remember the Falkland Islands war, when Argentina sent troops into the Falklands to capture this little British colony in the South Atlantic?

Argentina had been claiming to be the rightful owner of those islands for more than a century. Why didn't it attack these little islands before? At no time did the British have enough troops there to defend them.

Before there were "peace" movements and the U.N., sending troops into those islands could easily have meant finding British troops or bombs in Buenos Aires. Now "world opinion" condemned the British just for sending armed forces into the South Atlantic to take back their islands.

Shamefully, our own government was one of those that opposed the British use of force. But fortunately British prime minister Margaret Thatcher ignored "world opinion" and took back the Falklands.

The most catastrophic result of "peace" movements was World War II. While Hitler was arming Germany to the teeth, "peace" movements in Britain were advocating that their own country disarm "as an example to others."

British Labor Party Members of Parliament voted consistently against military spending and British college students publicly pledged never to fight for their country. If "peace" movements brought peace, there would never have been World War II.

Not only did that war lead to tens of millions of deaths, it came dangerously close to a crushing victory for the Nazis in Europe and the Japanese empire in Asia. And we now know that the United States was on Hitler's timetable after that.

For the first two years of that war, the Western democracies lost virtually every battle, all over the world, because pre-war "peace" movements had left them with inadequate military equipment and much of it obsolete. The Nazis and the Japanese knew that. That is why they launched the war.

"Peace" movements don't bring peace but war.

Copyright 2006 Creators Syndicate
Page Printed from: http://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2006/07/pacifists_versus_peace.html at October 16, 2006 - 03:30:56 PM CDT
Sowell begins with the distinction between rhetoric and reality because he belongs to a school of thought that believes much of what passes for public debate in the west is today the product of fantasy ideologies (about, e.g., "Global Peace") that would bring violent conflicts to an end by outlawing war and ruling the world through some articulation of "international law". These are fantasy ideologies because they pay little attention to the causes of war in the existential struggles of humanity, and to the hard but realistic means by which these struggles can actually be mediated and deferred.

For example, the need of warring parties to impose and enforce laws of moral reciprocity on each other is often undermined by claims that violence, when performed by leading nations in attempts to impose some order of moral reciprocity on their rivals, violence however rationally measured and focussed as a deterrent to those threatening disorderly violence, only begets an endless cycle of violence. Thus, for example, the violence meted out by the Canadian troops in Afghanistan cannot possibly have the effect of one day, if all goes well, defeating the Taliban's will to fight; it can only have the effect of increasing resentment and hatred and further violence in that country. And to the extent we and other nations that could get involved are thus encouraged to be careful and deny our troops the full support, logistics, and manpower they need to defeat an enemy, we increase the likelihood that the Taliban will again become the only possible source of order in Afghanistan, and that their brutal methods will return to power - ironically, all in the name of "peace" and "stopping the cycle of violence".

The fantasy ideologies that reject the idea that the world's leading nations might impose their power and sense of moral reciprocity on the world is rooted in an equalitarian notion that to do so only victimizes the Other. In the name of victims, the large majority of the "intelligentsia" of the West today deny the need for some nations to be firsts among equals, to take a lead in showing the way to membership in a world governed by the leadership and reciprocity required for free economic and political markets, as an alternative to the will to power of political tyrannies and their strong men. A regionally strong and successful nation like Israel might attempt to impose on its violent rivals and enemies (especially on their leaders) a measure of violence, and a corresponding rule of realistic, "tit for tat", reciprocity that will act as a deterrent to further violence and a reminder of hard existential realities - Israel's insistence on preserving its existence. But today any such violence is only likely to engage the cry of "disproportionate use of violence" from the morally righteous promoters of fantasy ideologies; hence, Israel is likely to back down in face of a global opinion it cannot cross, and nothing is settled.

Terrorist groups like Hezbollah are rewarded for their violent provocations - raids, murders, bombings - against Israel by becoming "partners in peace". The message is clear to the world's "subaltern" peoples: disorderly resentful violence pays, at least as long as there remains some kind of international order that is willing to appease your violence. Of course, in the long term, this refusal of the right of the strong and free to impose order on the world's tyrannies, will not actually promote peace but will encourage chaos and disorder, an endless war that will result from the fantasy ideology that would outlaw war and promote international law, but without respect for the realities by which a law among nations, that are in many respects not the equals of each other, could be realized.

We live in fear of the Other's resentment and do not stand up to it and tell it that it is deluded, and that moral reciprocity requires of it a different tack. No, when the Other shows us resentment we accord him victim status and attempt to appease his anger. The delusions inherent to all resentments only grow and we fall deeper into the fantasy by which the "tools of Peace" become the antecedents to more chaos and war.

As a final note, let me quote how a colleague responded to the Thomas Sowell article:
pacifism (commonly confused with Christianity) seems to be the desire to prolong the phase of peaceful contemplation of the divine/sign forever, and to carry the state of immobility outside the circle [of western liberals contemplating their cultural centrality] to the [global] periphery. All well and good, but it ends up denying the moral law of reciprocity and in fact promoting its violation, as discussed in the column. (That relates to the feeling of godlike omnipotence some westerners feel with respect to violence and claims emanating from the Other. Nothing They do can really hurt us.) Pacifism also tends to erase the difference between the infinite degrees
of violence, which also thwarts the law of reciprocity. Retribution is seen as inevitably leading to a cycle of violence, instead of a deterrent.

To paraphrase George Washington, the way to have peace is to prepare for war. The Greeks and the Romans knew what we have forgotten; that one cannot have peace until one has destroyed one's enemy's desire to fight. In the Middle East, as in other places, malevolent parties take advantage of the current pacifist zeitgeist. They wantonly attack their enemies, then sue for peace as soon as the retaliation begins. By this method, they can do damage to their enemies while mitigating the damage done to them in return. One has only to look at Darfur to realize the fruitlessness of relying on international bodies like the UN to ensure peace.
Much of the intellectual basis for these arguments of Sowell, myself, and my colleague is to be found, I suspect, in the work of Eric Voegelin. See especially The New Science of Politics, chapter six, section two:
The identification of dream and reality as a matter of [idealistic, pacifist, liberal] pinciple has practical results which may appear strange but can hardly be considered surprising. The critical exploration of cause and effect in history is prohibited; and consequently the rational co-ordination of means and ends in politics is impossible. Gnostic societies and their leaders will recognize dangers to their existence when they develop, but such dangers will not be met by appropriate actions in the world of reality. They will rather be met by magic operations in the dream world, such as disapproval, moral condemnation, declarations of intention, resolutions, appeals to the opinion of mankind, branding of enemies as aggressors, outlawing of war, propaganda for world peace and world government, etc. The intellectual and moral corruptions which expresses itself in the aggregate of such magic operations may pervade a society with the weird, ghostly atmosphere of a lunatic asylum, as we experience it in our time in the Western crisis.
[...we must note] the self-defeating character of Gnostic politics, that is, the oddity of continuous warfare in a time when every political society, through its representatives, professes its ardent desire for peace... an age when war is peace, and peace is war...
Get the book and read the whole thing.

Friday, October 13, 2006

just part of the uniform

A fitting story for Friday the 13th: blinkered multiculturalism on the march in England, as non-muslim students will be forced to submit to the religious dictates of islam:

Female students at a new Islamic school will be made to wear head scarves regardless of their religion, it was revealed yesterday.
The Madani High School in Leicester will be required by law to accept 10 per cent of its 600 pupils from a non-Muslim background.
But girls who are not Muslim will still have to abide by a rule insisting all female pupils cover their heads as part of the uniform.
Assistant principal Zainab Elgaziari said he did not regard the demand as a problem - despite the ongoing row over Muslim women's veils.

He said: 'I can't see why if a student wears a head scarf it should be an issue. It's the same as a shirt or tie - it's just part of our uniform.

'When you go to any school you know what the uniform will be. Like any school, we will have one - and in our case it will include a head scarf.'

When in Rome, do as the Romans do, eh Zainab?
The obvious question to ask, is just how reciprocal this policy might be… am I to seriously expect that Leicester's Christian schools will have the right to make whatever attending muslim children comprising the non-Christian 10%, show up minus their head scarves? After all, "I can't see why if a student doesn't wear a head scarf it should be an issue..."

And just how far does the school have the right to push this policy?
If a non-muslim student’s mother is visiting the school, does she have to bundle up as well? What if it’s career day, and non-muslim female executives drop by to give some encouraging advice; would they have to submit to a head scarf?

From the Daily Mail article:

Yesterday Leicester City Council said it did not believe the scarves would deter non-Muslim parents from sending children to the school.

Looking at Leicester's official website, and seeing the city proclaim itself "The City of Diversity",
I suppose the City Council's prediction just may be accurate. Pity.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Covenanting this week in the spirit of Stephen Harper

Sometimes it's tough keeping the energy of our little group of new Canadian covenanters going. But we will meet again this Thursday in the atrium of the main branch of the Vancouver Public Library, 7-9 pm, knowing we have a national leader who is alone among the leading federal politicians of this country in having the basic moral sense to stand against terrorism and the Islamic fascist movement of Hezbollah. Yesterday, leading Liberal leadership candidate, Michael Ignatieff, called the Israeli bombing at Qana a "war crime" - an event that was so manipulated by the propaganda efforts of Hezobollah and the Main Stream Media that we just don't know how many died. Nonetheless, we still see the Qana story being reported with no mention that the story, as first and still often reported, was a creation of propaganda. Still, we see no mention of Hezbollah's chief propagandist, and transporter of dead bodies, "Green Helmet" man, whom countless blogs have exposed - just Google "Green Helmet" and "blog" for more information on this.

But despite this sign that so much of our media and political elite are willing to cave in to totalitarians' propaganda in the name of appearing "neutral" witnesses to the victims on both sides of the conflict - instead of finding the moral vision to support Israel, the clear moral good guys in the recent conflict, a nation of western values and freedoms pitted against a tyrannical opponent, a supporter of terrorism, that first attacked Israel and then used civilian lives as shields, only to flaunt the bodies as victims before the victimary troopers of the international media - we should rejoice that we have a Prime Minister who will call a spade a spade, a real leader who won't let the Liberal party's slide into an embrace of Islamic totalitarianism go unchallenged:
Prime Minister Stephen Harper waded further into the debate over Liberal leadership front-runner Michael Ignatieff's charge that Israel has committed a "war crime" in Lebanon.

When asked about the term "war crime" to describe Israel's action against Hezbollah in Lebanon, Harper told reporters at a press conference on Thursday that he found the usage inappropriate, saying "I don't support that view."

But the prime minister went one further, taking a jab not only at Ignatieff, but the entire lineup of Liberal leadership hopefuls.

"This is consistent with the anti-Israeli position that has been taken with virtually all of the candidates of the Liberal leadership, and I don't think it's helpful or useful."

But Ignatieff's leadership rivals may not agree with his choice of words.

"To use the phrase 'war crime,' I think, is most unwise," Bob Rae told CTV News on Wednesday.

Meanwhile fellow contender Joe Volpe characterized Ignatieff's comments as "a rookie error."

In an ironic twist, Ignatieff was attempting to explain a previous gaffe on the same subject when he dug himself into a deeper hole.

In an interview broadcast Sunday on Quebec talk show "Tout le monde en parle," Ignatieff apologized for telling the Toronto Star in August that he was "not losing sleep" over an Israeli air strike that killed dozens of Lebanese civilians in the village of Qana on July 30.

"I showed a lack of compassion. It was a mistake and when you make a mistake like that, you have to admit it," he said in French.

"I was a professor of human rights, and I am also a professor of the laws of war, and what happened in Qana was a war crime, and I should have said that."

Earlier in August, Ignatieff admitted that he made a "mistake" in his comments to the Star; and since then transcripts of his interview shows that he prefaced those comments by calling the Qana bombing a "tragedy" for the Lebanese people.

But the interview in Quebec on Sunday marks the first time he has characterized Israel's actions as a war crime.

Jewish leaders reacted angrily to Ignatieff's latest choice of words and demanded a retraction.

In an apparent effort to make amends, Ignatieff told reporters that while he is a friend of Israel he is a "critical friend of Israel."

He added that "where crimes were visited on Israeli civilians, they were visited on Lebanese civilians."

But the damage appeared to be done. His comments highlighted divisions not only within his inner circle but within the Liberal party itself.

The co-chair of Ignatieff's Toronto campaign, Thornhill MP Susan Kadis, announced Wednesday that she was quitting over his remarks.

Kadis said she found his comments "troubling," given that Israel was defending itself in its conflict with Hezbollah.

Ignatieff so far has the support of nearly 30 per cent of delegates in the battle for the Liberal leadership, with the less than two months to go before the Nov. 28-Dec. 3 Liberal convention in Montreal.

Harper, who has been perceived as pro-Israeli, has come under fire himself for taking sides in the Mideast conflict.

The prime minister even made waves in international waters in September, when members of the Francophonie summit agreed to a compromise on a contentious resolution after Harper blocked the original proposal.

The original wording of the resolution recognized Lebanon's suffering in this summer's 34-day conflict, but not Israel's.

Harper took a strong stance against the Egyptian-proposed resolution, which most of the 72 members supported. He urged the organization to recognize the suffering of both nations.
UPDATE: I have just seen Bob Rae, Stephane Dion, and Gerard Kennedy on tv, expressing righteous outrage that Harper has attempted to divide Canadians by categorizing the Liberals as the anti-Israel party, which they claim is an outlandish un-Canadian statement, given their and the party's professed friendship for Israel. Of course, not one of the Liberal leadership candidates attempted to explain how, in the context of the recent war between Hezbollah and Israel, it is possible to take a morally coherent position for "neutrality" and friendship for both sides which is nonetheless what they pretend to do. I do not think any such position is possible, though commenters are free to show me wrong. Sympathy for Hezbollah, however mediated by professions of sympathy for Israel, is inherently a gesture towards the antisemitic left and their hatred of Zionism, and a gesture towards voters sympathetic to Islamic self-assertion and recognition of the Umma as a political force in a global politics antagonistic to nation states. At the very least, it is a gesture towards some vague Gnostic fantasy ideology about "neutrality" and "world peace".

Bob Rae is such a smug, self-righteous man, going on about his Jewish wife as if that is a sign that guarantees his soundness on Middle East policy; I will, when I next have a moment, drag up his policy statement on the Middle East from this summer and show what a shallow propagandist he is. Stay tuned. Also note, that no one is bringing up, for public memory, the fact that Ignatieff campaign co-chair Denis Coderre participated in an anti-Israel, pro-Hezbollay rally this summer in Montreal. I will have more to say on this too.

Sunday, October 08, 2006


There's no accounting for taste. But personally, I find it stomach turning to see a woman in public, draped from head to toe in some black sack, and being policed by some young man, a brother say, in his sporty track suit or whatever western dress he thinks makes him cool. It makes me sick to live in a "society" that allows this. We (and it is We, all of us, who should be ruling ourselves, not deferring to PC bureaucrats and their patron-client multiculti feudalism) should tolerate no form of religion that does not tolerate the sight of women's beautiful faces or want them to know the feel of sunshine on a crisp autumn morning.

So what to make of the degrading fact that a British paper sees fit to publish a guide to de-humanizing wardrobe practices? At least now you don't have to worry about offending anyone by mistaking the difference between, say, a burqa and a niqab. From the bottom of the linked article on Jack Straw's troubles for criticizing the veil (can anyone give me a good reason why the legitimacy of forcibly - let's not pretend about most cases within the cult of submisison - veiled women is even up for debate?) here's the list of shame, with its oh so flippantly coy pomo title:

HIJAB: Headscarf is most commonly worn in the West. It covers the head and neck but leaves the face clear.

BURQA: Most concealing of all Islamic veils with a mesh screen to see through.

AL-AMIRA: Two piece veil. Close fitting cap with a tube-like scarf.

SHAYLA: Long rectangular scarf wrapped around head and pinned.

NIQAB: Veil leaving eye area clear for an optional separate veil. Attracted Jack Straw's attention.

KHIMAR: Cape-like veil which hangs to waist. Face left clear.

CHADOR: Full body cloak with smaller headscarf worn underneath.

(HT: Pastorius)

Friday, October 06, 2006

New paradigm in climate change about to burst on scene?

Recent experiment suggests the real source of climate change may be in the stars, man.

And if it turns out that humans have very little to do with global warming, what might be the effect on the misanthropic victimary ideologies of our time? Could they survive the news that modern consumer man and the leading nations are not to blame? If not, we will certainly be needing a new covenant...

6024 islamic terror attacks since 9-11-2001

No doubt you have seen the buttons at many web sites pointing to the Religion of Peace site and its running tally of Islamic terror attacks. But, if you're like me, you've always wondered what is really represented by this figure and how much of it is a count of the almost daily (and often arguably more tribal than Islamic) bombings in Iraq and Afghanistan. Well, a new blogger in his first post is providing some insightful analysis of the RoP figure. And just six months ago, this guy was believing what the BBC and the Guardian were feeding him!

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Mysterious crime wave in Paris…

The French blog Le Salon Beige reports that there have been 130 assaults on Parisian garbage collectors so far this year.
Incredibly, french officials are coy about identifying just which parts of the city, are actually the most dangerous.
I wonder if their reticence is prompted by who might live there..?

“Since May 2005, the garbage collectors of the city of Paris have been obliged to work under police protection in one neighborhood of the XVIIIth municipal borough
This police accompaniment was decided following several violent incidents targeting the garbagemen, said Yves Contassot, Green adjunct to the mayor, in charge of the Environment and sanitation. Mr Contassot refused to name the neighborhood, while specifying that since the beginning of the year the city’s garbage collecting personnel have been the target of 130 “assaults” throughout Paris, ranging from “forceful insults to physical assault”, with around thirty cases from the same XVIIIth municipal borough.”

A laconic commentor at the site sums up the inevitable results of trying to wish problems away:

“In tolerating the intolerable, one accepts the unacceptable”.

I wonder if a reader with more intimate knowledge of Paris than myself, can verify what connection there might be between this northern area of Paris, and the noteworthy riots that took place there late last year?

Covenanting Continues

We meet again this Thursday in the atrium of the central branch of the Vancouver Public Library, 7-9 pm. We will be discussing how to expand and renew our mission here at the blog - how to serve and develop an audience. Please join us if you can. We wear the blue scarves and bandanas and I'll be sporting a new and improved Covenant Zone cap.