31. March 2005 · Categories: Humour, Politics · Tags:

*click* — “Michael Jackson arrived at the courthouse with plenty of…”
*click* — “…and Scott Peterson seemed to display no emo…”
*click* — “…saying Pope John Paul was still “lucid” despite…”
*click* — “…file for divorce from Brad Pitt…”
*click* …………..

huh – for some reason I thought there was something going on with judicial nominations and a right-wing takeover of our government… I must be imagining things…

19. March 2005 · Categories: Politics · Tags: , ,

I caught an interview on CSPAN with Qubad Talabany, a representative from the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan to the US, this morning. It was a reminder that there are some very positive results of US actions in the area. The Kurds were severely mistreated by the Baath regime, as anyone can see by reading about the Halabja genocide. It wasn’t until the US-lead coalition of forces, which included Britain AND France stepped into Iraq in 1991, that the Kurds were protected from this brutal persecution and given their own de-facto independence.

That’s right… 1991.

I think one of the reasons why it’s hard for many people like myself to join the applause as Bush takes bows is because credit is being donated without much qualification. It’s 100% true that regardless of what motivated the neo-conservatives to orchestrate an invasion in 2003, the results for the Kurds are positive… I recognize this fully. But, I think there is much more to understand.

First of all, we have to look beyond Saddam Hussein to find the cause of trouble for the Kurds. It’s not as simple as Saddam Hussein being a “mean guy”. A starting point for the problem can be located at the Treaty of Lausanne in 1923 which was signed by many countries including the United States. This treaty set the modern borders between countries in the area that before WW1 was ruled by the Ottoman Empire. Kurdistan, a province of the empire, was supposed to be made a nation on it’s own just like many of the other provinces including Iraq, but it was later decided to ignore them and the province was divided with parts given to Iraq, Turkey, Syria and Iran.

So if we fast forward to 1987, we can see the problem that occurred when two countries, each with it’s own share of Kurdistan went to war. I certainly don’t believe this gave CIA-asset, Saddam Hussein, the right to gas those villages in northern Iraq but I can see why he may have suspected a breach in the front between Iraq and Iran and it’s just a matter of fact that even “civilized” countries take leave of decency and do some horrible things in the face of a war*.

A little later, in 1991, the US-led coalition stepped in to defend Kuwait from Iraqi invasion and consequently established military protection over the oil-rich south and the Kurdish areas of the north which contained another important resource, the land through which US oil companies were planning a pipeline from the Caspian fields to a terminal on the coast of Turkey. It’s hard not to suspect ulterior motives on our part, especially when you look at the obvious influences of the oil industry in our government, the obvious oil interests in Iraq and the sad fact that we do nothing about genocides elsewhere in the world such as central Africa where oil isn’t a factor. I think the people that deny these suspicions are really stretching.

Regardless of ulterior-motive, the contribution that Bush has made to the Kurds is a chance to upgrade their de-facto independence which relied on US and UK military support to a legitimate representation in a self-supporting democracy. So I think the US self-interests is more of a problem for US tax payers than it is for the Kurds. Bottom line for the Kurds is that it’s better to be used by the US than to be persecuted by the Iraqis, the Iranians or the Turks… at least for now.


* Americans seem appalled that Saddam Hussein used chemical weapons against the Kurds, but there are reports that reveal that the Reagan administration supplied those chemical weapons. usatoday

sources for map:

Wikipedia

Baku-Ceyhan Campaigne

— How to steal the government from a generation of Americans that tune into their TV sets to watch reality —

In the last few days I decided to tune into mainstream TV news to see what the vast majority of American people were being fed. I sat through endless stories about the Michael Jackson trial, the Scott Peterson trial and the Phil Spector trial, but I had to really glue myself to the screen so as not to miss the brief flashes of news that actually affect us directly. In fact I must have blinked at the wrong times because I never saw any coverage of the revolution currently taking place in our government.

It seems that the Republicans are unhappy that the Democrats have only approved 95% of Bush’s judicial nominations and are pushing to get the other 5% installed. Bush re-nominated the same exact 5% and this time the GOP is leveraging their control of Congress to change the way our government works so that the Democrats can’t do anything to stop them. They are currently proposing that the filibuster be eliminated. This is some serious stuff.

Our judicial system is a powerful part of our government that makes rules without our input. We don’t elect these judges and they don’t have terms, they stay in power as long as they want. In fact the only thing that separates our judicial branch of government from totalitarianism is a critical balance of perspectives within the system. It’s important to maintain this balance and that is why the founders of our nation set up safeguards to prevent a one-sided court. But these Constitutional safeguards are being removed by a one-sided congress in alliance with an extreme president. Together they are creating a one-sided court that can last for decades.

Remember, the judicial branch appointed Bush in 2000 to the office of President in the first ever election to be taken out of the hands of the American people. There is nothing marginal about this… Our government is loosing it’s democracy and we are all subject to the consequences.

But please, don’t let me interrupt the exclusive interviews with Jackson’s lawyers.

The energy industry that conquered America has taken another victim today, a piece of wilderness in Alaska. But more than that, they have taken a piece of dignity from the human race. For two decades the Alaskan National Wildlife Refuge represented a struggle between our obesity and the will to be better human beings. It’s a line that defines us as humans. Do we have the will power to control our consumption or are we too weak to do anything about it? Are we drilling in Alaska now for the same reasons that so many of us are overweight? Are we incapable of controlling ourselves? Can we even keep a simple promise?

Indeed, the refuge is more than a piece of land – it’s a promise that we made to leave it alone. So it doesn’t matter how much the industry tells us how environment-friendly they are or how small the 1002 area is compared to the rest of the refuge, the fact remains that we broke this promise and we broke it because of an addiction to oil. I guess it’s true, junkies can’t keep promises.

What’s especially sad is the way it happened, our addictive consumption of energy has allowed us to become submissive to an industry that controls the very substance we crave… This industry says we need to offset our dependence on foreign oil… This is the very same industry that sent us to war to control foreign oil… It’s the industry that tells us it’s better not to depend on the market-manipulating OPEC producers and yet engineered an energy crises in California for their own profit.

For 20 years a government that reflected the will of the people kept this industry away from exploiting the refuge, preserving and protecting our promise and our integrity. But in recent years our will power has given way to our addiction as we allowed the industry to walk all over us, brushing aside it’s corporate scandals and taking over our government legislation, and almost right after they effectively replaced the will of the people with the will of the industry, they won.

It may only be a small piece of the refuge, and the caribou may survive it, but this defeat is symbolic of something far greater, it represents our willingness to let our addiction compromise our integrity.

Lately, mainstream media has been filling it’s “news” channels with wonderful success stories of democracy spreading throughout the middle-east and consequently the emergence of a president who was previously misunderstood and now proven to have been right. The image of bully America is giving way to the image of an America who is steering the world in the right direction. Once again, I find my own insights about the Bush administration buried under mainstream stories.

Most people who speak out against the Bush administration are rhetorically categorized as one and the same with the anti-war crowd. Indeed, I have always been critical of the Bush administration and I still am, but a historical look through my blog will reveal that I’ve always been more reserved with my opinions about the war in Iraq. Unlike the vast majority of Americans on both sides of the argument, I actually knew something about the Baath regime back in the 80’s before we ever crossed Saddam Hussein. I was one of those few Americans that actually paid attention to the Amnesty International reports on Saddam Hussein’s atrocities in Iraq while Republican heroes like President Reagan supported him and his activities. Indeed, I have always recognized the value of destroying the Baath regime. But I also recognize that destroying the regime would be the easy part. Now let me get to the part of the Bush policy on Iraq that has always been the basis of my opposition…

First of all, Bush lied to us. He lied about WMD and about Hussein’s links to the 9/11 attacks. As Bill Mahr said, “maybe you have to lie to sell a war.” Perhaps you do. But if America is really a democracy, representative or otherwise, then the leaders will ultimately have to deal with the disappointment of a population that doesn’t want a war. If such wars are truly a function of humanity, then maybe our leaders need to learn that the American people really are good at heart and only need to be educated about the truth, of course it’s hard for a government to appeal to our sense of humanity with the truth on one hand while violating humanity on the other. Maybe what Bill Mahr should have said was that you have to lie to sell a war when you’re a power hungry sack of shit.

Secondly, there was no exit strategy. All there was were the lies used to hurry Americans into a hasty commitment. Of course, you can’t just go into a country, tear it apart and then leave, but this is why an exit strategy is so important. The invasion itself was a no-brainer, Iraq was never big enough to stand up the United States in the first place let alone after it’s military was weakened by a previous encounter with international forces and never allowed to recover while in the vice-grips of military no-fly zones and economic sanctions. Who’s going to deny that marching to Baghdad was like cutting through butter? Indeed the vast majority of casualties have occurred after we got there. So really, the challenge would have been an exit strategy and that should have been something we should have spent some time on and there would have been nothing wrong with letting us know about it.

Third, there didn’t seem to be any dialog with the Iraqi people to see if this is really what they wanted or to invite them in the planning of an exit strategy and subsequent democracy. I mean really, if exchanging Iraqi oppression for Iraqi democracy was the plan, wouldn’t this have been an important step? And there was plenty of capable Iraqis living outside the influence of Saddam Hussein in America and Europe to talk to so, don’t even go there.

Does any of this matter now that we’re committed and the brush-fire of democracy is spreading through the middle-east? I think it does for two reasons.

the first reason is that this is an age of globalization and the pressure has been on since the end of the cold-war for countries to join the global market which wears the friendly mask of democracy to hide the hideous intentions of corporatism. One of the many risks that come with globalization is the loss of indigenous culture and for better or worse, the Islamic world has been a hold-out in this struggle against Freidman’s Lexus* which is exactly what Bush and his neo-conservatives have been pushing for. From this perspective all the “rhyme and reason” that seems to be missing from the “fight for democracy” picture suddenly appears as plain as day. So I think before we celebrate the Bush-led revolution of democracy we really need to assess if it’s social democracy or corporate globalization that’s spreading like a brush-fire, and it’s important to know the difference between them. Another thing to keep in mind is that none of these countries in the middle east have done much to prove an interest in democracy as much as simply showing signs that they don’t like the system they have. It’s just as likely that the people in these nations will be trading one form of oppression for another, perhaps another dictator or now that the cold war with it’s “domino effect” is over then perhaps it’s more likely that the new oppression will be of the corporate variety. Again, this will only make sense for those that can tell the difference between the will of the people and the will of the corporation.

Secondly, I don’t think that the lies and the ill-intentions of a president should be forgotten simply because the consequences of his actions have the appearance of being favorable. We need to remember how Bush lied to us and because of that we need to think about the possibility that his true intentions are nothing like what he is actually telling us, maybe we need to be a little more suspicious and less willing to fall for the snow jobs, wishful thinking and the outward appearance of people demonstrating in the streets of Lebanon.

* Thomas Freidman, in his book The Lexus and the Olive Tree, describes the materialistic attraction of globalization as the Lexus which is often at odds with cultural values represented by the Olive Tree.