Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The Theory, The Reality

Take-charge American General Stanley McChrystal has a full understanding of the difficulties faced by NATO and UN-allied troops in Afghanistan; stemming the insurgency tide and winning the trust of ordinary Afghans. A fully successful counter-insurgency would include measures that are designed to fight a new kind of war to meet any kind of success. The Afghan mission must pair military forces with local Afghanistan communities.

Establish a bond, one of trust and commitment with one another. On the human level that sounds reasonable and good. Certainly worth a heap of trying. Of course there is the little inconvenience of national heritage, customs, religion, language and tribal culture at total variance between the entities. On the other hand, human compassion and one-on-one - even unto one group toward another group - communication can accomplish much.

So the theory is to get the military out from behind their protective barricades. Instead of marching out on daily forays, then marching back in behind the barricades for maximum protection, get those troops out, to live within the village setting alongside Afghan citizens. Sharing their space, daytime and nighttime. Teaching them, sharing with them, protecting them. Building confidence.

Getting outside the wire into the remote places where Afghans live. Where they can communicate, gather intelligence, and begin to materially and intellectually assist the people in establishing their systems of local governance, help them to build road, schools, health clinics, communal centres. Sounds very good, very workable.

Build up trust with the locals, so that they will turn their backs on their co-religionists, their tribal brothers in favour of a comfortable alliance with foreigners.

This is considered the realistic choice to afford the collective foreign troops some measure of success in their mission. Which is to defeat the fanatical Islamists, and to aid and assist the country and its current, corrupt and almost-re-elected president to maintain his parliament complete with former tyrants and murderers and drug kings. A parliament that has proven as ineffective as it is corrupt. One that has been incapable of demonstrating leadership.

But then, the NATO and other military forces are engaged in a needful task of adequately training the Afghanistan military and the national police force. To enable them to gain sufficient proficiency in their profession so they may on their own finally be able to protect their country from the terrorist insurgents. To do this also means dealing with endemic corruption, and little-spoken-of sexual violation of young boys, commonly practised.

There are simply no end of complex irritations to be surmounted. Among them the headache of a transnational Taliban, one well established both in Afghanistan, in the border regions between its neighbour, and within Pakistan itself. Of course Pakistan itself is another part of the problem, officially aiding and assisting the battle against the Taliban, but taking care not to greatly upset those Taliban that do not directly threaten Pakistan.

And there's another rub in the prescribed ointment; the 50-or-so nuclear weapons so proudly owned by Pakistan. Which, if it succumbs to the Taliban threat through its faint-hearted response to assaults on its people and its territory, might always fall to the Taliban who might then generously divide the spoils of war with their great good friends, al-Qaeda, for they have so much in common.

Wait: there's more. Canadian troops have long been practising the very theory that the Americans are now espousing. Living among the villagers, holding court with them, discussing mutual matters of interest, helping to build their needed civil infrastructure, training the police and the militia. And that trust and engagement has resulted in - what, exactly?

Canada's commander of the Canadian troops, Brigadier-General Jonathan Vance, threatening elders at one Kandahar village to withhold further assistance so generously given to date, in reflection of a lack of "serious co-operation" on their part. They are beneficiaries of Canadian aid and sincere efforts to bridge the gap of understanding, and yet the take has not resulted in much give.

Giving warning, for example, of IEDs planted on the roadsides where Canadian soldiers drive to their villages - to assist the Canadians in avoiding such dire situations as being bombed, maimed and killed by misadventure. "If we keep blowing up on the roads I'm going to stop doing development", General Vance gently chided a meeting with village elders.

"If we stop doing development in Dand, I believe Afghanistan and Kandahar is a project that cannot be saved." Over to Afghanistans now, to ponder whether the foreign commitment to continue aiding them is worth too many more foreign military lives.

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Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Building Bridges to Detente

Those were the good old days, when Israel feared the intentions of Iraq's Saddam Hussein who, with his missiles threatened the very existence of the Jewish State. When, during the Iran-Iraq war, Israel was giving assistance to Iran, shipping off armaments to assist the Islamic Republic against their mortal enemy. That was then, this is now. The two uneasy entities with the ancient shared history are now far from partnership in anything but bitter antagonism, fear and tribulation.

But Iran is more than prepared to deal with the storied might of puny Israel, knowing quite well there is no substance behind the myth of military superiority. Or so they boast unendingly. They have witnessed Egypt's unnecessary capitulation to peace with their historical enemy in the interests of a simmering distant distrust, and will have no part of it. The Zionist entity has, by its very presence on sacred Islamic territory, insulted the Prophet (blessed be his name) and He whom he served.

"If this (an Israeli attack) happens, which of course, we do not foresee, its ultimate result would be to expedite the last breath of the Zionist regime", exulted Ahmad Vahidi, the Iranian minister of defence. Those recently dispatched missiles have given Iran's Republican Guard reason to puff with pride and promise success in conquest. A domino effect; first Israel, then the rest of the prideful, sinful, un-Islamic Middle East. Hamas and Hezbollah await instructions. And from there, who knows?

Quail before their might, world.

Israel, suddenly, has removed from the immediate agenda the possibility of mounting an attack against Iranian nuclear installations. At the moment, the trajectory of events wherein revelations of the presence of another nuclear plant near holy Qom - of a size to produce enriched uranium - enraging a world unwilling to admit Iran into the elite nuclear club, determined to effect wounding sanctions - looks attractive for its potential.

The wealthy nations of the world, needful of energy sources wherever and whatever, are not anxious to have Iran cut off shipping in the Strait of Hormuz. That would be unfortunate, most inconvenient; a most effective deterrence in and of itself. That is, toward the plans of the Security Council. On the other hand, the Security Council may be prepared to gamble, to finally agree on investment cut-off in the country's oil and gas industry.

Which would, of course, injure the population of Iran far more than it would the ruling supreme council of ayatollahs. The income of the Revolutionary Guard would be impacted slightly and that would be useful, but only marginally. The authority of the Supreme Leader and his useful political henchman might or might not be impacted; never can tell what even a dissatisfied public will do when they perceive their country to be imperilled.

It does not appear likely, despite the emerging possibility that both Russia and China, both with their immense investments of time, expertise and financing in Iran, will be brought to bear in incentivizing Iran toward civility toward its neighbours, let alone the international community. Sadly, Israel and Iran, two ancient civilizations, with some shared history, will remain at bitter loggerheads until a change of regime in the latter.

At which time - should there come such a time - the problem of dealing with the power and influence and conquering aspirations of the Revolutionary Guard will be the problem of the new Iranian administration, one might imagine. Might secular chauvinism equal the fanaticism of religious chauvinism?

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Monday, September 28, 2009

Serious Response? Here It Is!

An uneasy world would very much appreciate the cessation of provocations emanating from the Islamic Republic of Iran. Neatly partnering with another world nemesis, that of North Korea. The former has not yet succeeded in fully weaponizing its powerful enemy-seeking missiles through its clandestine military-use nuclear infrastructure, posing as peaceful, energy-producing sites.

The latter has done just that, and has succeeded in amassing a number of nuclear warheads, having proven that it could, should it wish to, lob them at irritating neighbours. When North Korea was blasting its missiles into the atmosphere, Iran looked on with great interest to measure the response from the international community. North Korea, as an impoverished totalitarian state, has set a positive example of accomplishment for another.

Iran has more than justified through its pridefully belligerent claims and threats the mistrust of the world. Matters have come to a head of late, post-UN General Assembly address by Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, thrilled at his statements-impact on the world stage, and the obvious nervousness the trajectory of his country's nuclear availment has had on world leaders.

Now the United States, Britain, France, Russia, China and Germany no longer slough off the potential as looming in the distant future. That potential is quite obviously - from recent revelations, along with intelligence surveillance - here and now, right on the horizon of reality. Quite as an anxious Israel has stated time and again, battling against the unwillingness of the world body to firmly intervene.

Now, the UN Security Council sternly and firmly - with the addition of Germany, and the still-uncertain support of Russia and China - demanded a "serious response" from Tehran to questions about the military threat its nuclear installations pose to the Middle East landscape, and much further abroad. Of course, Tehran's immediate response was to the effect that the latest nuclear installation was merely a 'pilot plant'.

Iran's Supreme Leader and his functionaries, in responding to these absurd demands for accountability are truly irritated at the presumptuousness of it all. Who do these clamouring countries think they are dealing with? And the response has been swift, with a demonstration of Iran's Islamist clenched fist.

Demonstrating its preparedness to respond to any provocations against their divine rule and their national heritage. The medium-range Shahab-3 missile's send-off delivered an emphatically more-than-adequate response.

Ali Shaigan/Fars News Agency, via Associated Press
Iran showed new defiance Sunday by test-firing three short-range missiles near the city of Qum.

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Sunday, September 27, 2009

The Courage of Conviction

Special Dispatch - No. 2555
September 22, 2009 No. 2555
Egyptian Intellectual and Playwright 'Ali Salem: My Trip to Israel Was an Attempt to Rid Myself of Hatred
In an April 2009 interview with the Kuwaiti daily Al-Nahar, Egyptian intellectual and playwright 'Ali Salem spoke at length about his first visit to Israel 15 years ago, and about the book he wrote following this visit. He said that the trip had brought ostracization by Egypt's intellectuals, because they had been forced to face the truth and to embark on a new road of peace for which they were unprepared. Salem added that his desire to visit Israel had been inspired by Egyptian president Anwar Sadat's courageous initiative of conciliation with Israel, and also by a simple desire to get to know the other side and to "rid himself of hatred." He concluded that peace offered many benefits for Egypt and for the region at large.

Following are excerpts from the interview: [1]

Interviewer: "Today, 15 years after your [first] visit to Israel and the publication of your book, A Drive to Israel, [2] what does the date April 7, 1994 [i.e. the date you set out on this trip] mean to you? How do you see this trip now, and what memories do you have of it?

Salem: "I have a lot [of memories], since [at the time,] I courageously put the horse before the cart, because I wanted to be the first to take the initiative and move from wartime to peacetime, in an era in which each of us had to decide for himself what to do.

"My trip posed a serious challenge to the Egyptian intellectuals and the entire Egyptian society. This challenge can be summed up in the [following] question: How are we to treat this small society next to us [i.e. Israeli society]? Reality forced us to embark upon a peace campaign with the society that defeated us ruthlessly in 1967. My generation cannot overcome the hurt of 1967. All the attacks on me were because I forced them to face the truth. I made them take action and start a new way of life, and that was painful for them. I wanted them to take a path that required courage and creativity. But they are lazy.

"The attacks and invective that I incurred were nothing unusual. You will find no one who will openly acknowledge that they are against me; however, there is a general consensus to ruin my good name and malign my character.

"In 1996, they cancelled my membership in the Egyptian Cinema Association, where I was member of three departments: writing, directing, and acting. After they questioned me, I asked them, 'What regulation did I violate that you should expel me? I found that [the Association] had no rule against normalization, but that it had passed a resolution specifically prohibiting artistic cooperation with Israel…

"By the way, my expulsion from the Cinema Association aroused little public interest. However, when I was expelled from the Egyptian Writers Association in 2001, there was an uproar. Especially when I went to court, which reinstated my membership - but later I resigned of my own accord."

Interviewer: "I believe that someone on the other side [i.e. in the West] is helping you."

Salem: "Of course, [I get] moral support. [I also have the support] of several friends in the Arab world and Egypt, but the cost is very high. For 15 years, people have reviled and cursed me on every satellite TV channel, and I haven't [the strength] to defend myself."

Interviewer: "You describe the help you are receiving from the other side as moral support, but I think it's sometimes material support [as well]. Last November, for example, you received a $50,000 prize in the U.S. Isn't that material support?

Salem: "[What I received] was a well-known award for civil courage given by the John Train Foundation. It is granted to ordinary people who 'resist evil at great personal risk.' I had applied for it twice [before], but got it only the third time around..."

Interviewer: "Let us go back a little. Where did this idea come from, and what prompted your decision [to visit Israel]? I read your book A Drive to Israel, and saw that you describe your trip as follows: 'This was no journey of love, but an earnest attempt to rid myself of hatred.' Is that really what happened? That simple and romantic?"

Salem: "There's a 1960s film called The Russians Are Coming. It deals with the Cold War and lampoons politicians on both sides. I think that this movie [ultimately] brought about the end of the Cold War. In the beginning of this movie, a Russian submarine approaches the American coast and gets stuck in the mud. The captain and the sailors look at the shore through a telescope and are astonished. When the deputy commander asks, 'Why are we getting so close to them?' the commander replies, 'I want to see America. It is natural intellectual and human curiosity [to want to get to know the other side].'

"This line had a great impact on me. That kind of curiosity can help you overcome all obstacles."

Interviewer: "Surely that line, which lingered in your conscious or unconscious mind, is not the only factor that triggered your decision to visit [Israel]."

Salem: "Curiosity was the primary reason. That is what I wrote in my book. I wanted to see Israel up close, just like that submarine commander wanted to see America, even though it was openly hostile to his country. [I wanted to see Israel] up close. When the soldier at the border [crossing] asked me, 'Why are you visiting Israel?' I answered, 'To see it and get to know it.'"

Interviewer: "I respect your right to try and get to know [the other side], but could you [really] disregard the remains of 50 years - the bones of the martyrs and the rubble of [our] ruined villages, homes, and homeland? How did you shake that off? How did you leave those memories behind? [I heard that] you didn't dare tell your family of your plans. You phoned your daughter from Al-'Arish to tell her."

Salem: "That's right. Had I told them they would have wept and been hurt, and that might have shaken my resolve to make the trip...

"After the 1973 war, there were talks, and the [two sides] signed a disengagement treaty. At that point, we were [already] on our way towards peace. Then came Sadat's initiative, which formed the cornerstone of my idea [to visit Israel].

"That was the turning point. It was a step of [remarkable] human courage and a dramatic moment [created by] Sadat. I witnessed that moment and sympathized with him. I could understand the courage it took.

"The day [Sadat announced his] initiative, I was sitting at the Café Riche [in Cairo]. Amid a storm of raging intellectuals and bombastic words, I expressed my opinion about [Sadat] and my support for what he had done. We must not forget that the 1973 war was over, and that, despite the [Egyptian army's] immense success in crossing the [Suez] canal, the war had ended with the Israeli army inside Sinai, 90 kilometers from Cairo..."

Interviewer: "So [Sadat's] initiative was the beginning."

Salem: "Yes, and after reading the peace accords, I did not wish to deceive myself. I understood that Sadat had been a giant in initiating and negotiating [the peace treaty]. During that time, I also interviewed Israelis in Cairo. A trip to Israel was not on the agenda [back then], for two reasons. First, the Israelis had not yet withdrawn from the Egyptian territories. Second, there was no hint, especially after Sadat's death, of an imminent solution to the Palestinian problem."

Interviewer: "And to this very day, Israel is avoiding finding a just and comprehensive solution to this problem."

Salem: "True, but what about the Oslo Accords... [in which] each side recognized the other? For me, the Oslo [Accords] were very significant, and I had to draw people's attention to them. Also, [I felt] I had no choice but to realize my wish, and get to know these people [i.e. the Israelis] and see what they were doing."

Interviewer: "So you see the peace agreement as a considerable asset [for Egypt], and the Oslo Accords as a political victory. But others see these 'miracles,' as you describe them, as steps down the ladder of concessions."

Salem: "That's the problem. There is a prevailing view that peace is an [act of] backing down. One fellow, an engineer with a PhD who is an expert on the Arab-Israeli conflict, said to me during the [December 2008 Israeli] invasion of Gaza: 'There is no need to revoke the [Egypt-Israel peace] agreement, [but we can] freeze some of its articles.' How can we do that? That thinking is flagrantly irresponsible.

"Another man said to me: 'Why did we need the peace initiative [in the first place]? After all, we crossed the canal. We could have waited quietly for another five years and then started another war.' How nice! Would Israel have let [us] sit quietly for five years, or even for one day?...

"It boils down to this: [a choice between] war and peace. Any attempt to maneuver between the two is an adventure bound to end in Egypt's defeat. The opposition to and delaying of normalization have harmed Egypt as well as the Palestinian cause..."

Interviewer: "15 years later, do you regret your journey [to Israel]? And how do you assess your role [in promoting peace], which seems to have been a considerable one? Did your intellectual initiative, as you call it, succeed?

Salem: "...I did something good, or something that I considered good, and I do not regret it. Peace is the right idea and will remain the right idea. What Sadat did was a great thing, and all the wretched attempts will never succeed in destroying the idea of peace...

"[We must be] patient, and [know] that there is no other solution. We cannot just close up shop and walk away. We are facing a task that is almost impossible, but which we must carry out - namely, prompting the Palestinians, by every peaceful and friendly means, to unite under one government, which will undertake to conduct negotiations towards [the establishment of] a Palestinian state."

Interviewer: "And what about the other side, which constantly digs in its heels and demands endless concessions?"

Salem: "Over the past 15 years, various elements have joined the peace process. Some joined as part of the political game, holding contacts with Israel without [signing any official] agreements. Who would have thought that Saudi Arabia would ever promote and adopt a peace initiative? Who would have believed 15 years ago that such a proposal would ever be made? But today it is happening. Israel is being stubborn, but the Arabs have no choice but to be patient. It is enough that the idea of war has been abandoned and the military option no longer exists."

Interviewer: "[How can you say that,] when Israel is waging a new kind of war, replacing the wide-scale confrontation with small wars, which we call 'raids,' whenever and however it pleases?"

Salem: "A few days ago I read a nice article by a Palestinian writer. In it, he expressed his opinion, saying: 'The only kind of resistance we can wage today is [a campaign] to persuade Israeli society to accept peace and the [notion of a] Palestinian state. This society will never be persuaded as long as there is a suicide bombing here and a missile [attack] there. This method [only] preserves its fear, and taps its hidden strength [by triggering] its memories of the Holocaust.'"

Interviewer: "To whom do you ascribe the failure, or the paralysis, of the Egyptian-Israeli peace process?"

Salem: "Regarding Egypt, I do not understand how people fail to realize the favor that [Sadat] did [us] and the value of what he did. He restored all of the territories [that had been occupied by Israel].

"It is strange that some people [still] say, 'What good did the peace [agreement] do us?' My answer to them is this: 'You refuse to recognize [the value] of peace, are therefore you are unable to understand what peace has created. You refuse to accept what peace has given you. The [mere] fact that you return to your home safely and are not hit by a sniper's bullet or by a missile falling from the sky, that you do not [have to] darken your windows and fortify your door with sandbags, or check the list of the fallen every morning - all that, or [at least] some if it, is thanks to peace.

"There is no alternative solution; even the most hawkish and arrogant Arab politicians do not have one. They excel at bombastic [speeches], but they are afraid of peace. It is a burden they are unable to bear..."

Interviewer: "I assess that if Iran develops nuclear abilities, this could help the Arabs on the military level. Why don't we want that?"

Salem: "Israel will never let Iran or the Arabs possess nuclear weapons. [But the real problem is] that we are still living in the 1940s or 1950s. At the very least, we are stuck in 1973. How many years have passed since then?

"It has been 36 years, and we are still thinking along the lines of 1973. The advances that have been made in these 36 years - in science, weapons, aircraft, even submarines - do not enter into our calculations at all. What have we done in these domains, while Israel developed and attained military superiority? Even without its nuclear capabilities, [it is still superior to us]. Unfortunately, our development stopped in 1973..."

Interviewer: "To sum up, after 15 years... would you do it again?

Salem: "I would do it 100 times over. [1] went to make peace, to take part in the rapprochement between the two peoples, and to participate in building a channel for peace between them. My book was [aimed at promoting] greater mutual understanding and cooperation between the two peoples."

[1] Al-Nahar (Kuwait), April 23-24, 2009.

[2] A Drive to Israel - An Egyptian Meets His Neighbors, Dayan Center Publications, 128, 2003.

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Another Voice of Reason

Special Dispatch - No. 2556
September 22, 2009 No. 2556
Egyptian Philosopher Murad Wahba Supports Arab Normalization with Israel, Declares: Secularism Is a Cultural Necessity
Following are excerpts from an interview with Egyptian philosopher Murad Wahba, which aired on ON TV on June 22, 2009:

To view the clip on MEMRI TV, visit

"Commitment to [the Egypt-Israel] Peace Accord Means Commitment to Cultural Normalization"

Interviewer: "Do you still believe in dialogue?"

Murad Wahba: "Yes, I still do, and I will tell you why. First of all, an everlasting war is unprecedented in the history of mankind. Therefore, war must be stopped, and peace must begin. Peace can only be realized through negotiations, and negotiations necessitate concessions. In other words, if you embark on negotiations, feeling that the absolute truth is on your side, these negotiations will inevitably fail.

"Concessions spell a change in mentality - instead of thinking in absolute terms, you must think in relative terms, in order to achieve peace. As long as there are people who believe the absolute truth is on their side - the fundamentalists in both the Jewish and Palestinian camps - we will remain in a state of war.

"As an intellectual, it is my obligation to try to change the mentality, in order to begin the peace process. Therefore, I cannot despair of making peace. This would run counter to the history of mankind.


"We signed a peace accord with Israel. In this peace accord, there is an article obliging both sides to establish normal relations in economics, in politics, and in culture. Commitment to this peace accord means commitment to cultural normalization."[...]

"Some Say That the Jews Isolate Themselves; That's Not True"

"The illusion of the intellectuals that there is an option of rejecting cultural normalization contradicts the peace accord. Secondly, today, with globalization - which means the death of distance, both in terms of time and space - you cannot remain culturally isolated. Moreover, cultures intermingle, whether you like it or not.

"Some say that the Jews isolate themselves. That's not true. The scientific and technological revolution - and this is very important - started at the beginning of the 20th century. That is when studies into nuclear physics began to appear. This led to the nuclear bomb. It led to the use of nuclear energy both for war and for peaceful purposes.

"What happened to the people who led the scientific and technological revolution at the beginning of the 20th century? They were only 10 or 12 people, most of whom were Jews, and they conducted research. It got to the point that nuclear physics was labeled Jewish physics.

"In 1933, Hitler banished these people from Germany, and they went to America, which embraced them. Thus, the U.S. embraced the scientific and technological revolution in the field of nuclear physics."[...]

"Preventing Cultural Normalization is Tantamount to Preventing Involvement in the Global Technological Revolution"

"Preventing cultural normalization is tantamount to preventing involvement in the global technological revolution, which Jews initiated and in which they played an active role. This is dangerous because it drives you to isolation and backwardness, and the proof is that the Egyptian universities are no longer academically competitive.


"If you implement democracy in the framework of backwardness, it becomes a catastrophe. It gives rise to people with the absolute truth on their side, as has happened in the past, and I will stop here."

Interviewer: "No, I would like an explanation."

Murad Wahba: "You would?"

Interviewer: "In brief."

Murad Wahba: "If you place no restrictions on the elections, the Muslim Brotherhood and other Muslim groups will have a landslide victory, under the pretext of democracy. Do you want that? Do you want to repeat what happened in Gaza?" [...]

"Secularism is a Cultural Necessity"

Interviewer: "You have said that the term 'secularism' is taboo among the Arabs."

Murad Wahba: "Any person who says he is secular - they either slaughter him or accuse him of apostasy. This happened to Sheikh 'Ali Abd Al-Razeq in 1925, to Taha Hussein in 1926, to Naguib Mahfouz, and to Farag Fouda, who they killed. Nevertheless, I feel secularism is a cultural necessity. I call for secularism now, and we have held four conferences about it, which were peaceful, except for some minor threats."

Interviewer: "You recently said that fundamentalism has led Egypt to sterility."

Murad Wahba: "The most important thing in fundamentalism is adherence to the literal religious text, rather than using the mind [to interpret] the text. In other words, it paralyzes the mind. The fundamentalists lead the paralyzing of the mind, which means the paralyzing of creativity and of thought, which leads to backwardness."

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A Voice of Rational Intelligence

Special Dispatch - No. 2557
September 22, 2009 No. 2557
Iraqi Writer Nijm Wali: Normalizing Relations with Israel – An Historical Necessity for the Arabs

Following are excerpts from an interview with Iraqi writer Nijm Wali, which aired on Al-Jazeera TV on June 2, 2009:

To view this clip on MEMRI TV, visit

"Normalizing [Relations with Israel]... Is An Historical Necessity For Us Arabs"

Nijm Wali: "I believe that normalizing [relations with Israel] is a cultural necessity for us, and it is the answer to all those who talk about a clash of civilizations. It is an historical necessity for us Arabs in particular, because it will take us to a new stage - a stage that will transcend the eternal conflict with Israel, and in which we will form new relations with the world.

"The eternal conflict with Israel has brought us nothing but material losses and loss of human life, as well as a chronic sense of defeat. The common Arab citizen feels that he is being defeated by this tiny country, Israel, which numbers only six or seven million, while the Arab world numbers 300 million.

"The way to deal with this feeling should be through normalization. As you said at the beginning of this show, this is what the Islamic countries understood, long before the Arabs. The historical ties of Turkey, Malaysia, and Indonesia with Israel have gone beyond mere normalization. Turkey, Syria's partner and the mediator in the indirect talks [with Israel], has a strategic, military alliance with Israel."

"The Notion That Prevails in the Public Discourse Is That Normalization is a Trap For Us"

"But I'm sad to say that the notion that prevails in the public discourse is that normalization is a trap for us, a deception. This notion will lead us to more defeats and battles, and the loss of more human lives. Look at other Islamic states, like Indonesia and Turkey. Not only are these countries international powers, which are even accepted as mediators, but they are also economic powers. Like the 'Asian Tigers,' they did not involve themselves in a daily conflict with a small country. This question has constantly made me wonder, even as a little boy: Why is this tiny state able to defeat us, even though we are 300 million? The problem lies with us. We have to think for ourselves, and build..."

Interviewer: "So the solution to this problem is normalization with this country?"

Nijm Wali: "In my opinion, normalization is the first solution, so we can devote ourselves to economic prosperity. Economy is the problem in the world today."

Interviewer: "Egypt normalized its relations with Israel some 25 years ago or more."

Nijm Wali: "And indeed, it regained the Sinai."

Interviewer: "But how did it benefit economically? Egypt's economic growth is less than zero."

Nijm Wali: "Why don't you ask the following question: Sinai was occupied, and Egypt regained it..."

Interviewer: "What has Egypt achieved since the normalization?"

Nijm Wali: "Let's ask a different question: How many casualties has Egypt suffered since normalization? Egypt has not suffered casualties like it did in the past." [...]

"The Jews Are No Foreigners Here - They've Lived In The Region... Throughout Islamic History"

"What I am saying is that this nation has to coexist in peace."

Interviewer: "The Islamic nation?"

Nijm Wali: "Yes, and especially the Arab nation, which is part of the Islamic nation. I consider it a historical necessity. In addition, peaceful coexistence - let's put aside the issue of Zionism... The Jews are no foreigners here. They've lived in the region for many years, throughout Islamic history. Even in terms of race, ethnicity, and history - they are our cousins. They lived for many years in the Arab Peninsula, in Iraq, and everywhere. We have to benefit from their experience in building a state."

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A Diplomatically Subtle Belittling

Simply amazing, that a government in its wisdom could arrive at the conclusion that it need pay attention to a raving lunatic, to advise the ever-ingratiating Moammar Gadhafi that he is considered by the Government of Canada to be a despicably-brutal enabler of terrorism, a funder of world-destabilizing fanatics, a mercenary arbiter of delusional ambitions whose past and present machinations are viewed with disgust by decent and responsible governments. Representing, actually, a total waste of time.

Yet that same government is capable of exercising true wisdom in its delicate slight to the United Nations, by scheduling Prime Minister Stephen Harper to appear elsewhere on the world stage (the G-20 summit) than at the General Assembly, where other world leaders are in attendance, some of whom have delivered vitriolic speeches deploring the advance of Western technology and economies and social systems. With other world leaders beseeching of the previously-mentioned speakers rational mental-balance aforethought.

With a classic 'why waste our time' attitude, the person tasked to address the General Assembly would be a senior minister, but not the premier minister of the country. Delivering all the same the message that the government sought to convey, that it condemns terrorism "in all its forms", pointing out the obvious, but which appears to be readily overlooked in that international forum - that it is the greater part of the world body's responsibility to eradicate said terrorism for a balanced and well-functioning world.

There are 192 countries belonging to the UN General Assembly. Some of them exceedingly fond of splitting hairs. Applying a vastly different type of nomenclature and descriptive designation when it suits them, in the matter of who and what constitutes terrorists and terrorism. To the West, for the most part, it is abundantly clear that a terrorist is one who seeks to sow terror within a population. And those who engage in terror exercise few humane scruples against delivering death to innocents; the better to deliver their message.

Whereas those politically, religiously and socially sensitive to the 'struggle' of the 'oppressed' or the needfulness of totalitarian rule to impose order, consider groups whom the West term terrorists to be "freedom fighters". Aside from proxy terror groups with their Islamist militias there are those who fund and encourage them. The Islamic Republic of Iran, as it is theocratically administered by fanatical Islamists is itself behaving as a terrorist state. Finally, the world has had to recognize that the country's ambition is to secure for itself nuclear weaponry.

American Secretary of Defense Robert Gates has now admitted, "The Iranians have the intention of having nuclear weapons." Another covert nuclear installation for the enrichment of uranium has been revealed to exist. Iran insists it has a need for nuclear installations to produce energy; purely peaceful. "If this were a peaceful nuclear program, why didn't they announce this site when they began to construct it? Why didn't they allow IAEA inspectors in from the very beginning?" Gates has stated. President Barack Obama insists "The Iranian government must now demonstrate through deeds its peaceful intentions, or be held accountable to international standards and international law."

But Iran does not recognize either international standards or international law that constrain its ambitions. It recognizes only the supreme law of Islam, which its Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei insists has authorized it to work toward nuclear attainment. And to which purpose its allies Russia and China have assisted it, with North Korea, Syria and Venezuela on the sidelines cheering. At the present, Iran's Revolutionary Guards are conducting war drills, firing off short-range missiles which have the easy potential of hitting Israel and the U.S. presence in the Middle East.

Iran is adamant there is no power on earth capable of interfering with its aspirations. "Allah willing, this plant (the second nuclear plant whose presence in Qom has just been divulged) will be put into operation soon and will blind the eyes of the enemies", soothingly uttered Hojjatolesla Mohammad Mohammadi Golpayegani, who heads the office of Iran's Supreme Leader.

So not to worry, for Iran has no enemies. Still, Canada would like to remind the United Nations and its member-states that they have certain vital obligations.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Iran's Peaceful Nuclear Installations

Iran's vast natural resources in fossil fuels renders it OPEC's second-largest producer of oil; the fourth-largest exporter in the world of crude oil. But Iran has never invested in oil-refining facilities to the extent that it might independently be capable of finishing its product for export, and must rely on outside sources to do that. And in turn, Iran imports externally-refined oil back into the country for domestic use. The country possesses 136-billion barrels of proven oil reserves, yet beggars itself to acquire sufficient refined oil for its population.

On the other hand, this country, not far from being impoverished, has been able to amass sufficient treasury funds to allocate toward the establishment of a number of nuclear reactor sites, a hugely costly undertaking. Shades of North Korea. Of course, Iran's friends and business partners, like Russia which offers its expertise and material support, and North Korea and Venezuela who do likewise, have enabled Iran greatly in its aspirational efforts to become a nuclear power. Not to worry, however, Iran's purpose in achieving nuclear power is solely for the generation of electricity.

Yes, it is puzzling that a country with such vast oil and natural gas reserves should undertake to build expensive nuclear power stations rather than rationalize its reserves with the building of adequate refining infrastructure instead, but isn't it every country's right to determine what works best for them? One supposes so. Other than the fact that some administrations of some countries are profoundly untrustworthy, with a real and troubling agenda masked (however awkwardly) by the innocence of self-sufficiency.

(Iran's agenda is clearly destabilization of the accursed West, and they will start with discharging their obligation to Islam by destroying the State of Israel.)

News of a second installation placed inside a mountain where a previously-existing network of underground tunnels beneath a military base once used as a missile test site by the Revolutionary Guard, has confounded the world community, expressing shock at the perfidious nature of the Islamic Republic of Iran. Dear me. How utterly unsporting of them. That the combined intelligence of U.S. French and British sources have long known of these advances is irrelevant.

Labelling the new infrastructure at Qom as "a covert uranium enrichment facility", whose "size and configuration" appears to be "inconsistent with a peaceful program", (thank you, Barack Obama) as though this is unexpected and a betrayal of broad international anticipation of an Iran docile and willing to be a part of the world community is ingenuous and pretty stupid. It is common knowledge and has been for quite a long time, about what Iran's agenda represents.

Reeling back in astonishment at revealing what is already known and what intelligence has long revealed establishes nothing but incompetence on the world stage. We know that Iran is intent on continuing its pursuit of "breaking rules that all nations must follow". We have long been aware that Iran has been "endangering the global non-proliferation regime and threatening the stability and security of the region and the world."

So now that it has been publicly established that all this and more represents the actual reality of Iran and its singular ambitions, how will the Security Council proceed? Better yet, will President Obama still insist on diplomatic niceties with Iran, extending a hand of friendship, in the belief that courtesy elicits reliable confederacy? Is it any likelier that Russia and China will relent and finally agree to urgent action?

And will France and Germany and the U.S. finally insist on the kind of sanctions that would have their national corporations surrender their encouraging economic investments in Iran?

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Friday, September 25, 2009

Feel-Good Blather

To be aspirational and inspirationally noble is a fine and grand thing. It elevates the mind and motives people to feel good about themselves, about the prospects for success in the pursuit of their game. When it comes to the potential for world peace, everyone sits back and pays attention. Is there anyone against peace in the world? There are a handful of dark troglodytes who rule in dim places of misery and misfortune who don't much care, but for the most part, peace on a universal scale is what everyone subscribes to.

All we need do is lay down our arms. Forswear the stockpiling of munitions. Pledge ourselves to work toward patience and comprehension and understanding of others' little irritations. Working together with purposeful determination, can we not overcome the perturbations of those whose feelings require occasional coddling? Why cannot the settlement of international disputes be performed by resourceful arbitration?

Why, we could assemble a body of world representatives to sit in wise judgement, to deflect antagonisms with reason, to encourage brotherhood among all nations of the world. All dedicated to the useful support of one the other; politically, socially, economically. Just think of the power of organized, rational debate as opposed to spear-throwing and club-bashing! Military service should be outlawed. The acquisition of weaponry frowned upon, not fawned upon, as is now the case.

Uh-oh, did we forget, kind of overlook the huge trade in weapons? That most countries of the world spend inordinate amounts of their country's treasury on weapons-acquisition? That the developed countries of the world produce enormous measures of technologically-advanced weapons, and are quick and eager to sell them where they may, including nations barely able to afford to feed their own people. Including countries whose need for weapons is clearly offensive, never defensive.

Remove the offence, no need for defence. But all those suddenly-sale-deprived industrial defence giants would be extremely restive, and their governments upon whom they prevail with funding and electoral support might do a whole lot of second-guessing. But then there is always someone new on the scene, a visionary, a man of goodwill and charismatic presence and illuminating character, to chart a new way. We must all disarm.

Indeed, this is precisely the priority placed before the Security Council at their summit, which enthused the great powers of the world to the extent that they (most of them) agreed wholeheartedly to support Barack Obama's call to disarm: "We must never stop until we see the day when nuclear arms have been banished from the face of the Earth". Do we get any more noble than that? Abolish nuclear, resort to old-fashioned, infinitely more humane bludgeoning tactics.

Actually, yes. Finer minds and more pure spirits have spent their lives attempting to turn the world into one great happy, peaceful neighbourhood. Before, during and after the great wars that have so traumatized the citizens of the world. Who, if it were given them, they would outright ban wars. How does one go about altering human nature? Armaments are but the means by which humans set about committing atrocities upon one another; it is human beings who slaughter one another.

Nicolas Sarkozy is a better judge of human nature than is Barack Obama, a dreamer, who seems to believe that if one wishes hard enough, one's dreams come true. It is the stuff of dreams to believe that a resolution to "seek a safer world for all and to create the conditions for a world without nuclear weapons", could eventually come to pass. When the truth is, we need to be saved from ourselves, from our primitive drive to survive at the expense of others.

How rational is it that any country would possess countless arsenals of nuclear-tipped missiles? How many are required for self-protection? Already a barking-mad administration in North Korea has acquired a dozen. Iran and Syria would like what Pakistan so generously shared. Russia has amassed 3,400, the United States 5,236. If a fraction of these were deployed what would be left standing of all that we are familiar with?

War is not a condition of the human-social construct that can be easily defeated. But the tyrants and the raving lunatics who aspire to possess the dread weapons of mass destruction must be dealt with. Not, unfortunately, by catering to their deluded whims, and elevating their fanatical egos by diplomatic sanctions, for mollifying those whose end is to deliver death has never succeeded.

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Thursday, September 24, 2009

Ah, The UN Summit!

What rare entertainment, truly. A world stage like none other, in actual fact. The eyes of the world, somewhat incredulously fixed upon the farce that unfolded as world leaders unveiled their agendas, their complaints, their aspirations, and their failures. Not without celebrating themselves and their countries' attainments. Blame and aspersions were cast elsewhere, upon all those others who spectacularly fail to achieve their potential as world leaders.

President Barack Obama presiding, the lofty, visionary segment was introduced. "The religious convictions that we hold in our hearts can forge new bonds among people, or tear us apart", said he. Thus far, we are tearing one another to explosive little bits. "It is easy to walk up to this podium and to point fingers and stoke division. Nothing is easier than blaming others for our troubles, and absolving ourselves of responsibility for our choices and our actions. Anyone can do that."

And then he proceeded to illustrate his point, brilliantly. Denouncing Israel as an occupying power, one that is reluctant to react to the humanitarian needs of the Palestinians. Employing the language of diplomacy in the hallowed great hall of the world's diplomatic mission. Imploring Arab nations, on the other hand, to accept a Jewish state in their midst, and recommending that the Palestinian Authority cease its incitements to violence.

Delighting Iran by referring to its darkly demonic presence "In their actions to date, the governments of North Korea and Iran threaten to take us down this dangerous slope [a less safe world]". Appealing to the assembled: "The test of our leadership will not be the degree to which we feed the fears and old hatreds of our people. True leadership will not be measured by the ability to muzzle dissent, or to intimidate and harass political opponents at home."

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad felt immensely complimented to be quantified and qualified in such glowing terms on the international stage. And in his turn he too took the opportunity to portray Israel for the thorn among nations that it is: "The awakening of nations and the expansion of freedom worldwide will no longer allow them [Israel] to continue their hypocrisy and vicious attitudes".

Canada - ah, my country, 'tis of thee - had its representatives exit the stage of infamy, pre- emergence of Ahmadinejad and delightfully, others followed suit during his tirade. And then it was the turn of Muammar Gaddafi (Daffy-duck-wise) to address the General Assembly. How very fit on this solemn occasion: the duo of Mahmoud and Muammar, the sardonic new comedy team for light relief on the stage of the United Nations; brought to you through the electronic media...!

To Mr. Gaddafi most certainly goes the prize, however, despite the anguished resignation of the president of the UN General Assembly who introduced him as the Daffy-King-of-Kings, Libyan Adussalam Treki who found himself in a truly tight place, frozen in the plight of one who dare not alert the speaker that he was overstepping the bounds of allotted time, lest he be summarily dispatched (to that place of lasting ease) on his return to Libya, post-UN assignment.

For one and a half hours, Colonel King-of-Kings Gaddafi harangued and lectured the world body in the reasonable belief that if he wearied them sufficiently all would be forthcoming; the former colonial powers would pony up the 7.77-trillion dollars they owe to Africa as compensation for imperialist interference in the Continent; NATO would withdraw from Afghanistan and leave the righteous Taliban to rule in peace; the U.S. military would admit to its latest biological weapon unleashed on the world (swine flu).

And "my son", Barack Obama, would deliver the United States from the utterly unforgivable darkness of its soul.

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Wednesday, September 23, 2009

A Charm Offensive

Iran's Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, is proud that his country's stalwarts in Hamas and Hezbollah have produced outstanding results in the battle against the Zionist entity. Surrogates they may be, but soon enough the Islamic Republic itself will demonstrate its serious intent with the finalization of nuclear ambitions. Wait and watch. When President Barack Obama belaboured Iran's agenda in his UN General Assembly speech today that too, had Mr. Ahmadinejad bursting with pride. It was write large on his beaming face.

Canada, without anticipation of the content of Ahmadinejad's speech before the General Assembly, scheduled for the second day of the gathering, has resolved that it will not remain in the chamber while Iran's representative speaks. Germany recommends that EU members recognize their option to remove themselves from the chamber if Mr. Ahmadinejad, as expected, addresses the 192-nation assembly with yet another unequivocating blast of fiery hatred against Israel, heartily recommending extermination.

Iran stands ready to complete what Nazi Germany almost accomplished when it blemished the world's humanity by destroying half of international Jewry. Iran is quite prepared to follow the direction it claims to have received directly from Allah to favour the world by removing Israel from the world map. All the while vociferously denying that anything resembling a Holocaust ever occurred during World War II. There are those in the assembly prepared to eagerly applaud everything and anything emanating from Iran.

From Pakistan to North Korea, Burma to Venezuela, Syria to Qatar, Iran has its stalwarts. But Iran also has its critics, and it will be rather interesting to see what results from the fact that the United Nations, established to ensure that peace reigns among member-nations, sees nothing amiss in once again agreeing to accommodate an honoured guest on the podium to address the august body, whereby that guest besmirches the very purpose of the United Nations by slandering and promising to annihilate another UN member.

Refreshingly, concurrent with Ahmadinejad's scheduled speech, there are other, anti-radical elements at play, ready to announce their displeasure with the fanatical Islamism of Iran and its president's caustic and inflammatory rhetorical belligerence. Serving to restore one's flagging trust in humanity, comes the news that major protests are on track to take place in New York, Washington and elsewhere, in response to the UN incitement of Iran's president.

The New York City rally's theme is "freedom from Iran's nuclear threat to Israel, America and the free world - freedom from the United Nation's clear antipathy toward Jews, and well-demonstrated hatred of Israel - and freedom from the threat of radical Islam to the free world, (along with freedom from President Obama's attempts to mollify the Arab world, by applying pressure on the State of Israel to conduct itself in a manner leading to its destruction). That represents a whole host of freedoms, from tyranny and terrorism.

The most heartening aspect of these unfolding events is the amazingly wide range of organizations involved in sponsoring them. They include: Stand for Freedom in Iran Coalition; Progressive American Iranian Committee; StandWithUs, Jewish Community Relations Council of New York; UJA-Federation of New York; National Interagency Task Force on Iran; Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union; New York City Central Labor council: AFL-CIO; American Federation of Teachers; United Federation of Teachers; NAACP - New York Conference; The Cathedral of St.John the Divine; New York Coalition of 100 Black Women; Puerto Rican Coalition; 100 Hispanic Women.

Of course, none of this is really necessary. Simply because President Ahmadinejad claims to have been badly misunderstood. He really is a nice fellow, and would like to be liked. It may be true that he has warned that Iran's military is prepared to "cut off" the hands of those who wish to raise arms against Iran, a country well prepared to 'confront the forces of darkness'. But in fact, he's a sweet-natured humanist, and is prepared to prove that to everyone assembled to hear him speak.

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Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Other Jewish Voices

There are, of course, organized groups of representative Jewish communities, who express themselves in a unified manner, wholly invested in living amongst non-Jews within their communities, yet supportive too of the well-being of the State of Israel. Which is to say, Jews living as proud citizens of countries other than the national home of Jewish identity, feeling at home where they live as an integral part of the larger social and national group wherever they reside. And at the same time feeling an obligation to support the State of Israel.

It is somewhat more than an obligation; it is an emotional need to know that there is a place in the world where Jews are in the majority, a country meant to represent the wider interests of worldwide Jewry, a homeland, a place where Jews are free to be themselves. Where Jews are assured of equal treatment and advantages, while attempting to offer that same set of values to non-Jews living among them. But where Jews are never denied jobs or education, or accommodation because they are Jews. And where Jews are assured that a movement will never arise to limit their freedoms.

Oddly enough, pride in place and heritage, and the reality of success in every indice of human development has not resulted in universal respect and tolerance toward Jews, nor toward Israel. For whatever faults can be found - in a world so long accustomed to finding fault in Jews and by extension the national homeland of Jews - they are resurrected and recycled; no slurs too fancifully outrageous to resurface, time and again. But something relatively new has been added to the tradition of anti-Semitic blame-and-shame.

Supporters from among the diaspora itself, Jews who, having become so addicted to a liberal-social ideal that they feel compelled to cast their lot with those who bring aspersions to their apprehension of what Judaism and Jewry represent. Jews are held to a standard of political and social behaviour and response to situations imperilling their very existence not demanded of any other ethnic or religious group. And Jews themselves feel compelled to live up to those expectations.

From among Jewish voices critical of their storied forbears, both ancient and current, irrespective of the horrors visited by a Jew-detesting world (or perhaps because of them) are raised excessively absurd slanders. Accusations that should test the legitimate credence that any intelligent beings might place on their absurd dimensions, but because it is a Jew's voice levelling conspiracy theories against those detested Jews, support is there in full and enthusiastic measure.

Case in point: the founder of a group, Independent Jewish Voices, incidentally a professor of social work at Carleton University, an outspoken and unabashed critic of Israel, found nothing untoward in the singling out of Israel as a human-rights abuser, by the world's worst human-rights-abusing countries at Durban II. She castigated the Government of Canada for boycotting the event, taking pains to stress her group's strong support for the Durban process.

This woman also is a staunch conspiracy theorist, one who claims that the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States resulted from an American/Israeli conspiracy to "seize control of Eurasia, and thereby the entire world." For, she painstakingly explained in a chapter she contributed to The Hidden History of 9-11, "The 'war on terror' is a concept modelled on Israel's assaults on Palestinians to provide a cover for campaigns of territorial conquest."

She goes quite a bit further, to explain to the uninitiated, that Middle East terror attacks owe much to Israel's long-range plans for conquest: "I think there's lots of evidence that suicide bombings and violence coming from Palestinians are often planned, and directly provoked, by the Israeli government." (Jewish Independent, April 2008) "And when they react, the Israeli government uses that as an excuse to massively overreact. Obviously, Israel is the instigating power."

The Palestinian Authority, represented by 'moderate' Fatah, at their conference a month earlier, issued their mission statement: "The armed revolution of the Arabic Palestinian nation is a decisive factor in the fight for the liberation and the liquidation of the Zionist entity and the liberation of the Zionist presence. This struggle will not end until after the liquidation of the Zionist entity and the liberation of Palestine." Obviously, they were helpfully prompted in this statement by the State of Israel.

Similarly, socialist-minded Jews like Naomi Klein and Judy Rebick, lead protests against the 'apartheid' State of Israel, seeking to convince trade unions and academics to boycott Israel in every conceivable way, for the 'atrocities' they visit upon the Arab Palestinians. For Israel has no right as a state to attempt to protect her citizens from suicide and terror attacks; no right to erect a boundary wall of protection against those same attacks. No right to invade Gaza in an ill-advised attempt to put a halt to rocket attacks on their citizens.

They have chosen to bypass the Jewish legacy of pain and resolve, suffering and tribulations resulting in the triumph of hope, against formidable odds. In their satisfaction with their chosen path they condemn Israel's struggle to exist against the tide of resurgent anti-Semitism buoyed by the flood of those like themselves choosing to align themselves with the purported "new Jews" identified in the suffering of the Palestinians.

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Monday, September 21, 2009

On Good Authority

Relax your apprehensions, we have it on good authority that Israel has no plans uppermost in mind to seek to demolish the Iranian nuclear emplacements that threaten the survival of the Jewish State. The world is informed time and again by the Islamic Republic of Iran that its intent is to ultimately destroy Israel. It has a right to do so, it claims, informed by its leading ayatollahs that to do so would please Allah.

It does have the option, however, of patiently awaiting the imminent arrival of the Hidden Imam, upon whose arrival there would be no need to fire off nuclear-tipped missiles to eradicate Israel from the geography of the Middle East. God himself, the God of Abraham, of Moses and of The Prophet would undertake that task, bidden by the Hidden Imam.

God - perhaps not the Hebrew god, but the Islamic god - for there is none but he, all others being impostors - will make that decision. This is confusing, understandably, since Islam respects Abraham and Moses and Christ, yet worships not Yahweh, but Allah. And since there is no god but God, this is a bit of a conundrum. Yet any rational being can understand that it would not be the Hebrew god who would visit finality on Israel.

Israel ponders its options, and they are gravely questionable with respect to total success. They might offer a little more time, but at a colossal cost. The only other option is to hope for an interior-motivated change of theocratic administration in Iran; one that would remove the fanatical lunacy of the incumbent Grand Ayatollah, his toady counterparts and his creature, MahmoudAhmadinejad.

It would appear that a great faction of courageous Iranians have fond hopes of such a change. They are, in fact, demanding it, at the price of their own safety and security. Many of them are suffering torture and human-rights-degrading acts of enforced contrition through serial rape, and many suffer the final assault on the human spirit and body leading to the irreversibility of death. Yet they demand, and they demonstrate.

As for the good authority, as opposed to the Good Authority; it is Russian President Dmitry Medvedev who confidently (confidentially) discloses that Israeli President Shimon Peres had personally informed him that "Israel does not plan any strikes on Iran, we are a peaceful country and we will not do this". President Medvedev considers this just and proper, for in his opinion such a scenario would be disastrous.

"What will happen after that? Humanitarian disaster, vast numbers of refugees. Iran's wish to take revenge, not only on Israel, but upon other countries as well." True, all too true. The man is a sage, a repository of wisdom. On the other hand, should Iran bomb Israel it would not represent as a humanitarian disaster, for Jews are accustomed to attempts at annihilation, and know well what it is to be a refugee.

And Jewish wisdom and forbearance would allow it to sacrifice its entirety in the interests of regional stability, for heaven forfend that Iran should expend its outrage on 'other countries as well'. And just for the record, Russia defends its independent right to continue to aid and assist Iran in its nuclear aspirations, and to sell to that country as many advanced weapons systems as it sees fit.

We have that too on good authority.

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Peace In Our Time

The world's great minds turned to ponder the propensity of humankind to turn on its own. Socrates also sought to understand the human emotions and the process by which men undertook to subjugate one another and through that intention slaughtered one another mercilessly. Thousands of years of conjecture and hope and trust that things might change with education and a concerted effort to awaken the universal conscience, leading it to give homage to compassion and support for universal human rights have made little gain.

In the Twentieth Century two great geniuses - one whose transcendental genius lay in his instinctive grasp of the matter and method of the universe, the other in the brilliant grip of understanding the mysteries of the universal mind - exchanged their thoughts, hoping to reach some meaningful conclusion that might lead humankind to a collectively massive effort for peace, finally eschewing violence and warfare forevermore.

Their brief exchange pre-dated World War II. And then those men of peace who so abhorred the vicious destruction of war, understood that there is little that can be done to alter mankind's basic instincts and fundamentally destructive emotions. And they understood too that there is such a thing as a just war. And suddenly, it appeared that there was justice in encouraging a war front to combat the bestiality of a Nazi predator.

On July 30, 1932, Albert Einstein, the ultimate genius of the physical world around us, wrote to Sigmund Freud, the genius of a brave new understanding of human psychosis. "Is there any way of delivering mankind from the menace of war?" Einstein proffered what he felt might help turn the tide of everlasting lust for war around. The creation of a highly respected and resourceful international authority. Yet when the League of Nations was initiated, Albert Einstein time and again feared its lack of purpose and refused to join.

Freud did respond to Einstein's brief question, as a fellow pacifist. He agreed with
Einstein that an international court of authority might, if it could succeed, pave the way toward world peace, as long as it was properly attuned to "its investment with adequate executive force". And at the same time he found agreement with Einstein on his observation regarding humankind's instinct for hatred and destruction.
"The upshot of these observations, as bearing on the subject in hand, is that there is no likelihood of our being able to suppress humanity's aggressive tendencies. In some happy corners of the earth, they say, where nature brings forth abundantly whatever man desires, there flourish races whose lives go gently by, unknowing of aggression or constraint. This I can hardly credit; I would like further details about these happy folk. The Bolshevists, too, aspire to do away with human aggressiveness by ensuring the satisfaction of material needs and enforcing equality between man and man. To me this hope seems vain. Meanwhile they busily perfect their armaments, and their hatred of outsiders is not the least of the factors of cohesion among themselves."
Sigmund Freud might have been a bit of a futurist; or else he knew the human mind so well that he was also able to project another thought, that in viewing the future potential, men might turn away from war due to "a well-founded dread of the form that future wars will take." We know what Nazi Germany in its fascist dedication to its view of the supremacy of a super-race brought to the world in suffering and mass annihilation of defenceless civilians. We know what the Communist USSR wrought in service to its superior ideology of socialism resulting in huge suffering and yet again mass annihilation of defenceless civilians.

We view now another type of war front, one dedicated to another type of ideology, this one of a fascist religion whose adherents interpret basic tenets as a call to jihad. A religion that seeks utter control of every aspect of human life. One whose fundamentalist lovers imbue it with the pathology of death. One through whose fervid promise fanatical adherents celebrate their love of death; their own, where they may be re-united with their founder in Paradise, serviced by three-score-and-ten virgins as reward for annihilating others unlike themselves in as great numbers as inhumanely possible.

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Sunday, September 20, 2009

Missile Offence

Russia was gravely offended by the very notion of its former opponent as a super-power-duo where one balanced off against the other with their spheres of influence and now the world's only super power, treating it with the kind of disrespect that Russia is accustomed to itself foisting on its former satellites. All the more so, when the United States has become a confidant and 'protector' of its former satellites. All of whom, as former satrapies of the USSR have no fond memories of their status then, despite the jingoism of "equal but different".

They were not equal, in fact, but were forced, through the might of the Soviet Union, to surrender their national autonomy, their geographic borders, their fundamental social differences, their national treasures, their independence of thought, their heritage, their natural resources, for the greater good of Russia and its commitment to totalitarian, collective communist rule. Little wonder, then, that they harbour a burning resentment against Russia, dredging up memories of brutality and starvation.

And the deaths of millions of people. And the loss of hope for the future. Now that they have entered the future they would like to preserve their political distance from Russia; geopolitically difficult, but they're making the effort to disassociate themselves, harbouring a wish to leave the past behind and with it any pretensions to love for Russia. Staking their future instead in another common pot; the European Union and NATO.

With a strong American defence behind them in theory, they could thumb their collective noses at still-imperial Russia with its ongoing designs for continued hegemony. And the former assurances of missile defence and radar installations in Poland and the Czech Republic, all of the satellites of yore felt confident they were successfully isolating themselves from the Russian Bear. Perhaps too confident given last year's Russian invasion of Georgia with the pretense of insufferable provocation.

Trouble is, the U.S. was too careless, too arrogant, too insensitive to its former antagonist in its insistence on the need for a missile defence system on Russia's doorstep; in effect rubbing its nose in its desertion by its former partners, all flocking to what the United States represents, eager to disavow anything that emanates from Russia. So in that respect it's just as well, and all things considered it is a good thing that the United States of President Barack Obama decided to withdraw.

It was a rational decision. A prudent and useful decision to stop waving a red flag of defiance in Russia's already-apoplectic face. Now arms reductions talks in the wake of the expiring Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty can proceed with mutual determination. It would be a very good thing also, if Russia's announcement that it will no longer plan to counter U.S. missile defence with the same of its own bordering the EU takes place. But that should not be seen as the operative quid pro quo.

Instead, Washington should anticipate that Moscow now will be more reasonable in other, vital matters. Not only that it should begin to support U.S. and UN moves to strenuously deny Iran's plans for nuclearization, undoubtedly leading to nuclear armaments, but Russia must admit its dangerous role in helping Iran in its ambitions, and cease. Russian enablement of Iran's nuclear reactors, its expert assistance and cost-underwriting, its sale of advanced missiles to the Islamic Republic of Iran should advance toward cessation.

The missile defence system that was to have been installed in Eastern Europe was representative of the power of appearance more than anything truly substantial as a missile deterrent. It would be a step backward if the new decision to withdraw missile defence and radar from the area, and install it elsewhere where it is seen to be more feasibly useful, is ultimately defined by Russia and by Iran as the appeasement of weakness.

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Saturday, September 19, 2009

Culture Collision

What could possibly encourage decent people to decide to overlook incidents that offend the very basis of decent, humane and intelligent behaviour? Most particularly decent people for whom the debased, harmful (to the victims) and truly unforgivable behaviour is seen as vile in their own society whose cultural norms view such morally depraved practises with utter disgust. Those same decent people for whose social contract and national laws view such acts as not only morally disgusting but criminal, as well.

There are some acts of human behaviour that go beyond the pale of social acceptance, to the extent that no society should ever accept them. Raping children is most certainly one of the cardinal sins of any society. And a society and a culture that knows this is a common practise, one that accepts this and does nothing to deter a chronologically-mature man from believing he acts with impunity when he rapes a young boy, sometimes so fiercely as to cause permanent physical damage, is most certainly one that exhibits an intolerable flaw.

As responsible human beings we have an obligation to intercede, to protest, to demand that such harmful and depraved behaviour stop, that it will not be tolerated by decent people. Yet, it would appear that Canadian soldiers stationed in Kandahar province in Afghanistan (where boy-rape is traditional and common) have been personally witness to such degrading inhumanity. Many of the Canadian soldiers in Kandahar have reported these incidents to their commanding officers.

To be informed by their commanders that their job there in Afghanistan is to train the Afghan police and the military in the craft of soldier-hood, in the correct use of the weapons they carry, in military strategy, not in decent human behaviour. Considering the barbarity of the war being conducted in Afghanistan where nothing whatever is considered sacred; neither the welfare of children, of human rights for women, of the sanctity of a mosque, perhaps it should be little wonder that the integrity of human behaviour has been so degraded.

But this does not explain how or why Canada's military elite could remove themselves from their responsibility as decent and responsible human beings. It does not go nearly far enough for a Canadian commander to mention the discomfort Canadians feel in knowing that young boys are being sodomized by Afghan soldiers and police to relieve their boredom, or to satisfy their lust, in the hearing of an Afghan official who then claims he will attend to the matter.

Canadian chaplains, enlisted men and some of their commanding officers have raised the issue, revealing with no uncertainty their disgust at this abuse of children by their Afghan peers, only to find that in a spirit of 'don't rock the boat', they are informed that an investigation has revealed nothing untoward to have occurred. The abusive practise is wide-spread and commonly-occurring. Canada can not afford, for her own self-respect, to pretend it does not.

And no amount of liberal generosity regarding different cultures and different traditions leading to different conclusions about different social mores can erase that reality.

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Friday, September 18, 2009

In Defence of Decency and Justice

Isn't that the mantra of the United States? When great wrongs are done in the world, the U.S. to the rescue. It has indeed happened often enough, particularly in the event of natural catastrophes. On the other hand, American intervention occurs all too often when it is not wanted, unwarranted and interferes with other countries' rights to govern themselves as they will. There have been times when the U.S. has supported right-wing regimes whose human rights records have been abysmal, when it has served their purpose.

Yet there have been overwhelming instances where the United States has intervened when the cause has been right and needful of support. In all, nothing like an unblemished record, but an outstanding one in many respects. So that when the U.S. is engaged in an enterprise that shines a shameful light of indifference on its administration and its military, it does no credit to them whatever. It simply points out, yet again, how vulnerable even the best of intentions are to the prevailing political realities.

Iran presents as the international community's most pressing problem in its rogue status as a brutal regime, a theocratic totalitarian state, one which is headed directly toward nuclear-power status with the intent to build its own nuclear warheads and the powerful missiles that have the capacity to take those warheads on a world-shattering trajectory. The people of Iran have finally reached the point where they no longer wish to live under this regime, and an opposition has resulted, powerful enough to shake the confidence of Iran's Supreme Leader.

Opposition abroad to the regime is fairly general, with some notable exceptions; other rogue states such as North Korea and Venezuela, supported by China and Russia, both of which have veto power over effective sanctions as permanent members of the UN Security Council. Expatriate Iranians have supported the leading opposition within Iran by staging protests in their countries of exile. And within Iraq, close to the Iranian border there is an Iranian refugee group adamant in their antagonism against the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Their past acts of resistance and what was termed to be violence against the regime led to their being labelled a terrorist group. Aside from Canada, the United States and Iraq, the Iranian refugees at Camp Ashraf are no longer given that designation. There are 3,400 members of the Peoples' Mojahedin Organization of Iran, 50 of whom have Canadian citizenship, living in Camp Ashraf. The U.S. had signed an agreement with the camp in 2003 that they would be protected by the U.S. military, with the surrender of their weapons.

In 2009 the protection of Camp Ashraf was transferred to Iraq, under the fourth Geneva Convention, with the withdrawal of American forces, despite the alarm raised by human rights organizations, pointing out Iraq's collegial relations with Iran. In July Iraqi security forces attacked the unarmed refugees with guns, axes, clubs and Humvee armoured vehicles. Eleven Iranian refugees were killed, 500 injured and 36 were taken into custody without charge. American soldiers were present, filming, but not reacting.

While condemnations of human rights abuses are voiced wherever they occur by the United States, suddenly it is mute when these human rights violations occur at the hands of their allies, the very Iraqi troops that they have been training. There is little reaction by the U.S. to the situation, while Amnesty International expresses concern for the welfare of the 36 that were taken away, likely to be returned directly to Iran where they may face torture or summary execution.

Where is the United Nations Human Rights Committee right about now? Preparing to launch an investigation?

The International Commission of Jurists in Defence of Ashraf is raising its collective voice in defence of the Iranian refugees in Iraq, hoping to be able to speak forcefully for those who are unable to protect themselves, ultimately hoping to convince the United States to do its human-rights duty in defence of the defenceless.

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The Burqa, The Niqab - The Humiliation

Special Dispatch - No. 2544
September 17, 2009 No. 2544
Liberal Algerian-French Writer Mohamed Sifaoui: "The Veil... Is a Symbol of the Iranian Revolution and Its Crimes... of the Muslim Brotherhood Ideology... of Salafism and the Hostility It Promotes... of the Taliban and Its Barbarism... and [of] Bin Laden and His View of Women"

Mohamed Sifaoui, a Frenchman of Algerian origin, is a well-known liberal writer and journalist who has published numerous books and articles on Islamic fundamentalism and other subjects. Two recent posts on his blog, at, deal with the encroachment of Islamic fundamentalism on the democratic values of Western society.

In a satirical entry postedJuly 31, 2009, [1] he attacked the French government for being too diffident in promoting a law banning the burqa in France. He mocked the French Interior Ministry's estimate that only 367 women in the country wear the burqa, arguing that the issue is not how many women wear it but the infringement on France's democracy.

In an entry posted July 28, 2009, [2] he criticized Belgium for allowing Mahinur Özdemir, a veiled woman who was recently elected MP, to enter the very "sanctuary of democracy." He argued that her presence in parliament is an insult to all the women fighting for their freedom in Islamic countries, and called on the democratic states to defend their principles in the face of Islamic extremism - even if this means changing their laws.

On September 11, 2009, the book Ben Laden Dévoilé ("Bin Laden Unveiled"), by Sifaoui and renowned French cartoonist Philippe Bercovici, was released; it is about Osama bin Laden and the history of Islamic fundamentalism in graphic form.

The following are a few excerpts from the two blog entries:

In his July 31 blog entry, titled "Three Hundred and Sixty Seven - the New Erotic Number," Sifaoui wrote: "We can relax. According to the Ministry of the Interior, there are 367 women in France who do not wear the Islamic headscarf... They prefer the full-body veil - the niqab or the burqa...

"This was my first reaction when I read the Interior Ministry's publication providing 'statistics' on the number of women who wear the niqab in France... Three Hundred and Sixty Seven.

"How accurate! How did they manage to count them? Does French Intelligence have an undercover agent under each and every burqa? Did the police contact the National Federation of Females Wearing the Full-Body Veil? Or was it SOS Burqa [a pun on the name of the anti-racist French organization SOS Racisme] that released the information? Maybe it was the UOIF [Union of Islamic Organizations in France, an umbrella organization of Islamic groups]? Or maybe the figure can simply be found on

"[On second thought,] the information was most certainly obtained from the Niqab Manufacturers' Association. Because the ability to provide such an accurate number is rare, isn't it?

"Can we ascertain the exact number of people in France who wear a cross around their neck? Is there any way to estimate the number of Frenchmen who wear a yarmulke? Do we know how many Indian saris were sold last year? And how many women are hiding under a wig, or who dye their hair?...

"Still, let's be serious for a minute. What is the meaning of such statistics, which in fact show nothing at all? Supposedly, there are only 367 niqab-wearing women in France, [making it] a negligible phenomenon not [worthy] of debate... This figure might mean... that no law [banning the burqa is necessary.] So let's wait a few years, until there are 3,670 women wearing the burqa, or 36,700, or 367,000, or even 3,670,000… and [only] then become alarmed and ask our MPs to draft a law [against the burqa], after an investigative committee has been established…

"There are many more than 367 women in France who wear the niqab - and you know it!"

"Go visit 'community shops' and you will see how quickly they sell niqabs... [In fact,] they are often sold out. I think that these merchants who sell halal clothing [i.e. clothing permitted by shari'a] sell 367 niqabs per month.

"After that, take a little tour in France, including the [immigrant] neighborhoods, and you will see that the phenomenon goes far beyond this ridiculous figure. And [if you attend] the next UOIF meeting, you will [surely] find an alarming number [of burqa-clad women there].

"In any case, no self-respecting country puts its values at the mercy of statistics. One burqa on our national territory is one too many. One veil in the civil service is one too many.

"Even if we assume that this figure is correct - which it is not - we had better take political action before the Interior Ministry statistics indicate that there are 300,000 women wearing the full-body veil. This means that a law should be discussed while [the burqa] is still a negligible phenomenon. We should not wait until it becomes a nationwide plague."

"But let's assume [for the sake of the argument] that what I am saying is ridiculous, and that the figure published by the Interior Ministry is perfectly accurate and based on a careful, thorough, and well-documented inquiry. Let's assume that [the phenomenon] is nothing serious.

"In this case, what does the figure 367 mean? [It means] that there are at least 367 men with firm Salafi convictions who are married to, or who are about to marry, these shadows, these females whom they have decided to conceal, or who have decided [of their own accord] to hide their faces from society - as if they were facing millions of sex maniacs ready to rape them right away, either over or under their burqas.

"Indeed, the niqab, or the veil, is the stupidest thing that a woman can accept. It is the worst humiliation she can inflict upon herself: [the humiliation of] depersonalization. [Once clad in a veil], she is no longer a woman but a statistic - one of [the 367]!

"So, returning to our count, this means that we have 367 potential couples who believe in the burqa culture - meaning 734 people who believe that a woman should become a number in order to please God. And then, unless these couples are all infertile - which we do not wish on them - they will have about three children each, if not more. In other words, in the years to come, these 'burqanized' couples will have 1101 children...

"Then the Interior Ministry will issue [another] statement - which will be validated by the UOIF and the International Federation of Salafis - that 'there are [now only] 367 women in France who do not wear the veil, the niqab, the burqa, the sitar, or the shower curtain…'"

In his July 28, 2009 blog entry, titled "The Worm of Fundamentalism in the Fruit of Democracy," Sifaoui wrote: "Congratulations to Belgium for its election [of Mahinur Özdemir]! Congratulations to the land of tolerance and understanding for letting the symbol of [medieval] obscurantism and ignorance into the temple of enlightenment!

"Some will probably say, 'But she was democratically elected!' I am all too familiar with this response, to which I reply that when [democracy] allows a symbol of the Islamist ideology to infiltrate democratic institutions, it is time to reassess the laws.

"I will say it again and again: Democracy does not consist only of elections. Democracy is a political system that promotes [certain] values: human rights, gender equality, respect for [the other, despite] real or imagined differences, tolerance, generosity, and humanism...

"Therefore the veil, or Islamist headscarf, is a stain on the parliament. I am not talking about that piece of cloth that women - reduced to the status of mere females, due to a medieval interpretation of Islam - have decided to wear. I am talking of what [this piece of cloth] stands for."

"The veil is not an Islamic symbol of femininity or modesty, let alone a sign of spirituality. The veil - in its various forms, such as the burqa, niqab, sitar, etc... - is a symbol of the Iranian revolution and its crimes. It stands for the Muslim Brotherhood's ideology and obscurantism; for Salafism and the hostility it promotes; for the Taliban and its barbarism; for bin Laden and his view of women. It is the banner of that green fascism that has killed Muslims and has been striving to slaughter humanity in recent years. It is the flag of criminal organizations that prevent us from living in peace.

"The veil, I say, stands of the obscurantism of those who spit on enlightenment. It symbolizes the grave disease that is consuming Islam. It is the result of years of indoctrination and deception [by those who have] exploited [Islam] for ideological and political purposes. It is the outcome... of the subjugation of women by fundamentalist males suffering from severe mental illnesses.

"The veil, I say, is the final blow in the Islamist assault on Europe, its media, its civil society, and its institutions…"

"What some in the Brussels parliament have welcomed so happily [into this institution] is a symbol that continues to make Muslim women flee their native countries, or their [immigrant] neighborhoods in European [countries]. It is what the butchers in Algiers, Mogadishu, and Kabul want to impose on six-year-old girls. It is the uniform that Islamists want to impose [on women] in accordance with the will of men...

"The veil is spreading because democratic values are in decline. I wonder at old Europe that no longer knows how to defend the ideals for which its ancestors fought."

"…I am shocked by the harassment [faced by] those who dare to criticize this harmful doctrine of Salafism or political Islam. The veil - it cannot be said too often - is nothing but an emblem of these backward ideologies that continue to tarnish Islam, making it look like a backward, misogynistic and obscurantist religion.

"I find it outrageous that a veiled woman has been allowed into the Brussels Parliament, [as if] this insult to democracy were a sign of progress. The capital of Europe should be ashamed that such a thing has happened. What a depressing message [we are sending]… to Muslim women in Islamic countries who are fighting [for their right] to live without a veil!

"Europe wants to solve its immigration problem, and it has surely found the way to do it. Soon progressive Muslims will no longer want to settle in Europe. On the other hand, veiled women and their bearded husbands will know that Europe is sure to welcome them warmly...

"Many progressive people of North African or Arab origin now realize that the Old World is implementing a new vision of society based on multi-culturalism and on compromise with political Islam...."



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