The world can certainly do better than this. Here's why.

Monday, January 15


Perhaps a paradigm shift is in order. Without change, there is no hope for a better future.

There have only been changes for the worse in Iraq since the invasion of 2003. Resistance by the Iraqi military loyal to the Hussein regime was quelled only to beget an insurgency. The insurgency quickly became inter-sectarian violence. Both sides, Sunni and Shi'a opposed the US occupation, but divisions along sectarian lines and 30+ years of violent oppression, Sunni minority suppressing Shi'a majority, created the conditions for a generation of Iraqis to release their frustration and anger. Each side; Americans, Sunni Iraqis, and Shi'a Iraqis battled each other on two fronts. For the Iraqis, two fronts became three as intra-sectarian violence, Sunni on Sunni and Shi'a on Shi'a, began. The chaos has only led to intra-sectarian violence and a full-blown civil war. The reason for all of this was the ill-advised invasion and occupation of Iraq under false pretenses.

President Bush II of the united states announced recently that he will be increasing troop deployment in the four year old war with Iraq, a war that is increasingly unpopular among Americans and their elected representatives. This so-called "surge" of personnel has the task of securing Baghdad, the capital city. Despite the failure of 130 000 troops to achieve the same task, the commander-in- chief of the US believes that his new approach, complete with new rules of engagement, will get the job done.

In the same speech that announced an increase in troop deployment, the President called out two other nations, Iran and Syria, implying that their support of their ethnic compatriots must stop, or else. When questioned the following day by Senators on the foreign relations committee, Secretary of State Condolezza Rice was "evasive" in responding to questions about the will of the President and his administration to cross the borders between Iraq and Syria, and Iraq and Iran. Such transgressions clearly hearken back to the "secret wars" in 1970s Indochina, carried out by presidents Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon, administrations that lied to the American people about crossing international borders to achieve military objectives.

Engagement with Iran raises the spectre of a nuclear arms race. Iran has, for years now sought the development of a peaceful, energy-focused nuclear program. This quest has been blocked at every turn by the US and the influence they have on the UN security council. Now, the US having fomented a Hadean nightmare within Iraq for the Shi'a majority, which ethnically mirrors Iran, Iranian military planners cannot help but consider a nuclear deterrent to American influence, nor can they deny the call of their Shi'a cousins in the bloody civil war.

Chasing down the sources of support for the Iraqi insurgent forces has led to the frontiers of Iraq, as it certainly would. Whether or not the pursuit of these sources will lead across these borders is a call for the President to make. However, should these transgression require - or culminate in - a declaration of war against Iran and/or Syria, then the president must seek the blessing of Congress and the American people.

The mandate to fight the war on terror - a war declared by the Bush administration in the tradition of the Reagan administration - is a phantom battle. It begins with the identification of a perceived threat, that of terrorism, as a tangible and defeatable enemy. Now that the war on terror has advanced into its sixth year, the inference that terror is tangible and defeatable is no longer questioned.

My question, however, has remained throughout. Isn't terror and terrorism a function of the ideas of its instigators? Without the motives and tragic circumstances - effects of causes such as US foreign policy decisions and US-led economic policies - terrorism would not be the force in the world that it is today. Attacks, then, cannot be aimed at the people and nations that commit violent acts. A battle against "ideology" cannot be fought with guns, bombs, and manpower. Such notions are sheer folly. The prevailing paradigm is this same folly.

A paradigm shift is in order. The Bush administration can continue to chase down every lead in the war on terror, find every person that opposes the brand of freedom that America sells, set up as many false dichotomies as are necessary. The end result? America will be at war with everyone but those whom they identify as friends or "self".

The war on terror can only culminate in world war; but an of insidious, police-state conducted, dystopian form. The kind of war warned against be the likes of Orwell and Eisenhower. To avoid this, the prevailing paradigm must be shifted.

The conflicts between the concerns and ambitions of all parties engaged in the middle east are certainly matters of life and death. The battle for control, dominion, or authority is certainly the "greatest ideological struggle of our time." It cannot be left to the states and powers involved to see this struggle clearly. They continue to march toward the cliff warned against by many. The lies of the current administration continue to mount. Repeating the mistakes of Vietnam and other post WWII conflicts and spreading international instability and insecurity as by-products of secured economic interests, has proceeded apace. Any that stand to contest the juggernaut will be destroyed. This paradigm is unnatural and unacceptable.

A paradigm shift is a grand change. It changes the way everything is conducted, it changes the way humans see the world. It is just this sort of change that the empowered fight in everything that is under "their" control. Perhaps, it is this change that the war on terror will ultimately contest. Ideological struggles rest with the ideas of the participants. A war against ideas makes thoughts into crimes. The terror of the unknown and the unpredictable is what threatens power structures and designs the world over. Perhaps without this fear of change, fear of the unknown, humans can begin to accept the differences between one another and work toward solutions to the problems plague us. The possibilities are clear in human history, South Africa's post-apartheid truth and reconciliation commissions are proof of this.

Monday, January 8

Security of the First World, A Weak UN

Prevailing culture mandates the continued existence of creature comforts of the form that have taken shape in the West over the past five decades. Furthermore, the culture mandates of the same poulation that appearances consistent with these comforts, instilled across centuries of political posturing and social compromises also be maintained. As such developmental trends and standards by which this same development is measured are, by in large, expected to be spread to the rest of the world. Certainly, seeing what is had by the "haves" is sufficient to generate desire in the "have nots."

It is unreasonable to believe that the spread of democracy in the world is sufficient to guarantee that development in underdeveloped nations will create the same opportunities that are available at present in established powerful industrialized democracies. This is especially true in the face of vicious competition, drastically compressed timelines for development, and huge cultural differences. It is also unreasonable to believe that the same types of development that are the source of power and authority for industrialized nations will provide for the people of underdeveloped nations in this contemporary frame. This is especially true at a time when the developmental processes of the industrialized world are being called into question for their environmental, social, and legal implications. A new set of answers is required. One that is sensitive to the needs of the many cultures that the development seeks to assist; one that is sensitive to the needs of the new world in which it operates - maintaining not only a competitive edge but an environmentally sound approach; one that is responsive to the speed with which change occurs in the world.

The work of the UN and its adjunct organizations has conducted extensive research into the issues surrounding all of the most pressing of human issues. The UN has made contacts in all of its member states regarding each and every human issue.

Just when the UN appears its weakest, can we realize its importance and strength.

The cliche that necessity is the mother of invention befits the UN. Its inception following WWII as a replacement for the defunct League of Nations was a statement of necessity. The UN was founded to provide a means for conflict resolution without armed conflict. In this mandate, the UN has become decreasingly successful. Non-State actors have the capacity to wage warfare as effectively as states do, as exampled by the standoff in Lebanon from 12 July until 15 August 2006. Armed conflicts peppered the latter half of the 20th century as the Cold War tenaciously advanced. Most of these conflicts, and several of the attacks that were enjoined within them, were condemned by the UN and its member states, but, the UN was powerless to stop them. The UN does not seek to police the world, it acts only as a forum within which grievances can be articulated. Amid the bureaucracy and declarations, the ability to act remains disconnected consideration. As a result, the UN is saddled with the task of cleaning up all of the human tragedies that are left in the violent wake.

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Tuesday, January 2

Conrad Black

Who cares about Conrad Black? Certainly an influential and powerful Canadian, at one time, his current woes and trials are none of my concern. Nor was his influence at the time he had it. Perhaps this is because I am an eastern Canadian and his influence, before the national Post, was mainly in the west.

That he rose and fell as do many persons who seek power is inconsequential. There is nothing to be learned here but that one should not get caught with one's hand in the cookie jar.

Lord Black, I experience no sorrow for your troubles, nor sympathy for your situation. Few, if any of us commoners will face our comeuppance in a similar fashion. You are but the latest in a search for spectacle, a story to tell. But, is it really that sensational a story?

A man builds an empire, renounces his nation for a title, is accused of white-collar crime -- in a time of widespread corporate corruption -- and will eventually be found either guilty or innocent. Regardless of the outcome he will be free to roam the world, his empire in tatters, his name, deeds and misdeeds the stuff of trivia.

Regardless of the outcome, this story has been told and retold. Enron, 9/12 airline stock shorts, Bre-X scandal. The emperor has no clothes, the people reject him and move on with their lives. Focusing on the people at the top makes them all the more infamous and makes the people who were cheated all the more victims. All that is certain is that another such ambitious person will repeat this history, building an empire only to see it fall or be torn down.