Wednesday, December 30, 2015

UN Security Council Resolution 2254 - a diplomatic clusterfuck

 "Modern English, especially written English, is full of bad habits which spread by imitation and which can be avoided if one is willing to take the necessary trouble. If one gets rid of these habits one can think more clearly, and to think clearly is a necessary first step towards political regeneration: so that the fight against bad English is not frivolous and is not the exclusive concern of professional writers."
George Orwell, Politics and the English Language 

There is an industry - known by many names but "strategic communication" is one - whose goal is to convince people that pigs fly.  This disease has infected the Security Council.

Self-evident matters of fact and law:

1. Neither this resolution (2254) nor resolution 2249 authorizes military action under Chapter VII of the UN Charter.

2. The proposition that Canada's current military involvement in Syria is in any way "self defence" is ludicrous.

3. There is no other circumstance that use of military force by one nation state in the territory of another is lawful under the Charter.

War on Terror, explained (via Mark MacKinnon)

Monday, December 7, 2015

Friday, December 4, 2015

"The Mission" and UN Security Council Resolution 2249

What mission?

Resolution 2249 conspicuously avoided authorizing any military action under Article 51 of the Charter (or any other part of Chapter VII) but spelled out the body of international law "particularly the Charter" that must be observed.

Article 2(7) says
  1. Nothing contained in the present Charter shall authorize the United Nations to intervene in matters which are essentially within the domestic jurisdiction of any state or shall require the Members to submit such matters to settlement under the present Charter; but this principle shall not prejudice the application of enforcement measures under Chapter Vll.

Enforcement measures under Chapter VII are not authorized by 2249. But it calls for "all necessary means" to "eradicate" the safe haven for terrorists in Iraq and Syria.

This is a resolution of weasel words.  It calls on members to eradicate terrorists without, once again, giving a clear statement of what terrorism is, except that "terrorists" are people who are then placed on the "1267 committee" terrorism list, an opaque process.  So we have circular arguments about who the terrorists are, and contradictory instructions and permissions to member nations who have the capacity to do the unspecified eradication.  "All necessary means" presumably does not include nuclear weapons.

A plain reading of the UN Charter seems to make clear that participation in civil wars is forbidden. Whatever is going on in Syria and Iraq is civil war.  If the UN Security Council wants something enforced, it should say so and give authorization for military action. Otherwise, shut up.

In our time, political speech and writing are largely the defense of the indefensible. Things like the continuance of British rule in India, the Russian purges and deportations, the dropping of the atom bombs on Japan, can indeed be defended, but only by arguments which are too brutal for most people to face, and which do not square with the professed aims of political parties. Thus political language has to consist largely of euphemism, question-begging and sheer cloudy vagueness. Defenseless villages are bombarded from the air, the inhabitants driven out into the countryside, the cattle machine-gunned, the huts set on fire with incendiary bullets: this is called PACIFICATION. Millions of peasants are robbed of their farms and sent trudging along the roads with no more than they can carry: this is called TRANSFER OF POPULATION or RECTIFICATION OF FRONTIERS. People are imprisoned for years without trial, or shot in the back of the neck or sent to die of scurvy in Arctic lumber camps: this is called ELIMINATION OF UNRELIABLE ELEMENTS. Such phraseology is needed if one wants to name things without calling up mental pictures of them. 

Orwell, Politics and the English Language

Friday, November 27, 2015

Low tech national security

1. Learn the history

2. Speak the language 

3. Listen to the people who live there

All he heard from his generals President Johnson said was “Bomb, bomb, bomb. That’s all you know. Well, I want to know why there’s nothing else. You generals have all been educated at the taxpayers’ expense, and you’re not giving me any ideas and any solutions for this damn little piss-ant country. Now, I don’t need ten generals to come in here ten times and tell me to bomb, I want some solutions, I want some answers.” 
David Halberstam
The Best and the Brightest
Military people can always rationalize almost any problem's becoming military and thus susceptible to a military solution. They dislike interference on the part of the State Department when that Department sees serious political consequences stemming from the use of military force. 
James Gavin
On to Berlin
Then we dropped, hovered, settled down into the purple lz smoke, dozens of children broke from their hootches to run in toward the focus of the landing, the pilot laughing and saying, "Vietnam, man. Bomb 'em and feed 'em, bomb 'em and feed 'em." 
Michael Herr

Monday, November 23, 2015

Fear and loathing of Islam

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Sanity and more sanity

Monday, November 16, 2015

Little Boys, Big Toys, Fools

"We see the United States as deeply worried about terrorism. But effectively fighting against terrorism does not mean increasing the number of military operations; it means fighting against what causes terrorism. If you introduce kindness and gentleness at the place where terrorism begins, you will eradicate terrorism without pain. It is necessary to examine the most sensitive areas of the earth. You can do nothing to stop the seventeen-year-old kid who has decided to place a bomb somewhere. You can do strictly nothing, and any effort against him will just fly back in your face. Countering violence with violence is the most ineffective response imaginable. Instead, we should target the pain, with the goal to alleviate it. I firmly desire a worldwide dialogue, and I would like to see the United States discharged from the monologue. The period of great wars is over. Science has put in the hands of children extraordinary means of death. The greatest error the United States is currently making is to think that international military operations can stop a seventeen-year-old child from acting. The focus should be placed instead on alleviating the pain in the most sensitive regions of the world, beginning with Jerusalem."

Excerpt from “Déchiffrer le silence”:
A Conversation with Germaine Tillion
by Alison Rice

Friday, November 13, 2015

A perspective on Paris

"Iraqcivcas" by Hannah Fischer, Information Research Specialist- Knowledge Services Group - en:Congressional Research Service. Licensed under Public Domain via Commons.

What happened last night in Paris was an average night in Iraq for about 2 years.

Those two years were part of a hideous tapestry of violence that began with the American invasion of 2003 and isn't over yet.  That's just Iraq.

Afghanistan - quasi-legal invasion and incompetent occupation by white Christian armies

Libya - quasi-legal bombing campaign (begun with some really adolescent enthusiasm by France and subsequently conducted by rogue elements in NATO) that resulted in anarchy and destruction of society, which is apparently of interest to nobody, including France

Syria - Oh, God

Mali - see Libya

Egypt - it's so nice to have our vicious autocratic kleptocracy back on our side

Palestine and the occupied territories - "sorry?"

Last night in Paris didn't come out of nowhere.  There's more than one monster rampaging in the Middle East.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Remembrance Day, 1944

Matthew Halton, CBC

Monday, November 9, 2015

Awww... Foreign Affairs is thrilled to see the Liberals

So, let's talk about that.

There are questions about the last 10 years in Foreign Affairs, about people who were complicit with Harper and people who weren't.  For starters:

1. Whatever happened to David Mulroney?

2. Who was the woman from DFAIT who put down her pen whenever torture was discussed in Afghanistan?

3.  Where was the Deputy Minister when Richard Colvin was being fucked around by the Department of Justice?

Disasters occurred, people were tortured, Canadians died, careers were advanced.  Why look back when we can look forward?

As our investigation progressed, we were able to move closer to the key centres of responsibility as we moved up the chain of command.
Unfortunately, the Minister's decision of January 10, 1997, eliminated any possibility of taking this course to its logical conclusion and prevented us from fully expanding the focus to senior officers throughout the chain of command who were responsible before, during and after the Somalia mission.

- Executive Summary, Somalia Inquiry

People and power

Or, Lord Acton again

"I cannot accept your canon that we are to judge Pope and King unlike other men with a favourable presumption that they did no wrong. If there is any presumption, it is the other way, against the holders of power, increasing as the power increases. Historic responsibility has to make up for the want of legal responsibility. All power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men, even when they exercise influence and not authority: still more when you superadd the tendency or certainty of corruption by full authority. There is no worse heresy than that the office sanctifies the holder of it."[7]

Any person who achieves power, sincerely believing in the importance of accountability, will find that the importance of accountability declines rapidly to zero as a function of time.

At its natural limit, desire for power excludes desire for accountability.

The healthy consequence of absolute lack of accountability is absolute lack of power.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Tobogganing in Afghanistan with Genghis Khan

The Afghan - Mongol war happened about the same time as the Magna Carta. 

The Magna Carta evolved. 

Genghis Khan didn't.

NATO evolved with Genghis Khan.

The Unremembered, Renata D'Aliesio

Renata D'Aliesio, Globe and Mail, 3 Nov 15

Sunday, October 25, 2015

House of Commons Night in Canada takes the game to a whole new level



The playoffs produced a whole new championship team.  Don, your thoughts...

Who knew?  It reminds me of Montreal and Philadelphia in the 70s.

Smoked meat and cream cheese?

Sometimes I think you're part of the problem, not the solution..

The speedy Frenchmen versus the Broad Street Bullies?

Sure.  Anyway, a lot of people wrote off Trudeau as a guy who wouldn't get into the corners, all sizzle and no steak.

And now?

He took the high road and won.  No cheap shots, but up for toe-to-toe...

What about Mulcair?

Like Yogi Berra said: when you meet a fork in the road take it. Mulcair was trying to be everything to everybody at the same time and turned out to be nothing.  He was good as an enforcer, keeping people honest. But it takes more than an enforcer to win games, never mind the election. He would have been better to be the enforcer with a plan.

Better than what?

There you go.  It was a low bar.  Harper didn't have any plan at all. "Vote for us because we're going to keep doing what we're doing now but we're not going to tell you what we're doing now until after you elect us."

So the Conservatives will be rebuilding?

Yeah, like rebuilding San Francisco after the earthquake..


You're starting from a smoking ruin.

That's a bit harsh...

It is if you're in denial about the earthquake.

I'm getting lost in the metaphor...

If the Conservatives think they lost the election because they didn't have the right beer commercials, then they don't understand the fans weren't buying beer.

You're so...profound.

I get that a lot.

Until next time - if there is one - good night from House of Commons Night in Canada.

Did you notice my suit has the Magna Carta in the original Latin?


And my tie has the Charter?

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Canada's Parliament 2.0 [*gasp,wheeze*] asserts self over Forces of Darkness

I wrote this 7 years ago.  It took longer than I would have believed but we got there.  

Full frontal optimism from a polite citizen

Rome wasn't burned in a day, Washington either. Canada tried to burn down Washington in 1814, allegedly for Americans' burning down Toronto, but we've noticed Washington has been rebuilt. Unfortunately, so has Toronto. Except for the Leafs. (If that sounds strange, any random Canadian will explain.) Meanwhile back in D.C., Dick and George have managed to finish the job and burn down Washington quite thoroughly. Those fires don't look to be going out any time soon.

We've had a similar problem up here, but dealt with it differently. This apparently caused confusion on The Daily Show, and stimulated a Canadian need to apologize to Americans (particularly) for being boring. The last thing we should do is apologize. I'm here to help clear up the confusion.

In a nutshell, the Prime Minister (Stephen Harper) built a Cult of The Leader inside the federal government and is about to get his head in a bag as a result. It's pretty straightforward. We don't normally hold with megalomaniacs up here, unless of course hockey is involved, but even in hockey it doesn't pay to act like a star, especially if you aren't one. There's no obvious government to replace Steve’s Conservative Party either, even if they found a new head, not that people haven't tried. Some have despaired. Heartfelt moaning can be heard about the decline in standards of civility and debate in the House of Commons, and about the inability of Members of Parliament to behave like grownups. People think the political outlook is like the economic outlook: dismal.

People should get a grip and Jon Stewart should pay attention. Canada is about to fire its executive using an antique method developed haphazardly over centuries. Charles I lost his head over it. It’s called parliamentary democracy and it’s a Rube Goldberg contraption with two standard and fabulously incomprehensible features built in: (1) it works, (2) it learns. I’m not an expert, I just grew up here and I don’t see anything confusing about it at all. Stand back and watch it work.

Bad news is everywhere of course, not just in Canada. Apart from the economic disaster, the last eight years have been ugly for anybody who thought that Nuremberg and International Humanitarian Law actually meant something, and Canada is in ISAF up to its back bacon. But so what? The good news is that the British form of parliamentary democracy has one thousand years of momentum behind it, and seems to evolve relentlessly towards open and responsible government despite frequent attempts at sabotage, including those made in Canada. I'm not saying Americans are doomed any more than the rest of us – I sure as hell hope not – just that it's too soon to know if the American Constitution can withstand the current savage onslaught from within.

Which brings us back to Steve, Canada’s Prime Minister, who has alienated lots of Canadians including some of his supporters, by trying to run the country as if it were a one-party state like Alberta. Not all Canadians might use those words but people are riled and Steve can be fired in several imaginative ways; we don't have to wait eight years like our neighbors to the south. I don't think we should feel shy about pointing out these advantages to our American friends. In fact there's a good chance Steve will be fired in January, most likely by the Governor-General unless there's a revolt in his own party and the Conservatives fire him first. I'm impressed that the Governor-General can actually fire Steve, having no apparent power other than that conferred by history and tradition, and more remotely, some transatlantic telegraphy to the Queen. We don't talk about that much, and it doesn't seem to matter. When you learn that the Governor-General was born in Haiti and is getting her constitutional advice from a New Zealander, you'll have to admit American family dynasties look, well, awkwardly feudal.

And here's another thing, we have the Bloc Québécois, a federal party dedicated to removing Québec from Confederation (which arouses a lot of consternation) but the system accommodates this contradiction, and peace, order and good government continue to happen. A Venezuelan acquaintance saw his first Canadian federal election recently and couldn't believe it: “At home, there would be bloodshed, family breakup, and interruption of basic services. Here, everything keeps working.” Americans might think this is a little weird too, but last I heard there were some elements in the South that weren’t too crazy about joining up with the North and that pockets of disenchantment linger still.

I'm not saying Canadian parliamentary democracy is perfect, but it learns. The next stage of evolution might be the involvement of citizenry more directly in federal politics by means of the Internet. Word reached us some guy named Obama came to the same conclusion. Whatever. Within hours of Steve discovering he wasn’t Dear-Leader-for-Life and being forced to make an unplanned visit to the Governor General, thousands of comments about this were posted on websites of the CBC and Globe and Mail among other members of the “press”, and Members of Parliament heard from their constituents almost instantaneously. No more waiting for the news to filter out from Ottawa by mail or telegraph, even. I'm betting this will change the way government works, maybe even frustrate crazed Orwellian attempts to run Canadian politics as if selling lousy beer to stupid customers. Such change won't happen overnight of course but …we'll add a new feature to the Rube Goldberg contraption and then.....

Canada's Parliament convenes January 26, 2009. It's show time.

Oct 20, 2015

Rube Goldberg contraption addition probably in the works.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Well, this sucks...

feel free to share...I was attacked early on.Then again, and again, and again. Here are the details:The...

Posted by Aaron Paquette on Wednesday, 14 October 2015

Harper's riding. NDP. Zing.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

David Parkins, Globe and Mail

The failure of weapons

  1. It must be apparent that the invasion of Iraq has not transformed that country into a peaceful, prosperous, and constructive member of the family of nations.  Ten years of violent chaos have not been helpful.
  2. The bombing of Libya ditto.
  3. The bombing of whatever Syria is or ISIS is has not changed anything.
  4. Years of economic sanctions and hysterical warnings have not changed Iran in any significant way.
  5. The bombing of Yemen seems illegal, immoral, and incomprehensible.  It likewise, has made no significant changes in Yemen except, possibly, a descent into madness.
  6. A chronic state of violent anarchy leads to a culture of violent fundamentalists.
On the other hand, talking to Iran - after years of shrieking and hysterical threats - has produced very positive results.

It seems probable that similar talks could be held between Israelis and Palestinians, provided somebody keeps the assholes out of the way.

It is also obvious, however, that huge fortunes have been squandered on the world's arms industry, to benefit a very few, who apparently have every incentive to keep this evil and insane merry-go-round spinning forever.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Lynton Crosby's brainstem politics of the niqab.

The niqab is perfect.

It's an 800 pound dead cat on the dining room table.

It's a so-loud-you-can-hear-it dogwhistle to our most ugly selves.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Friday, October 2, 2015

Stephen Harper, a bizarre pair of hands

In this they proceeded on the sound principle that the magnitude of a lie always contains a certain factor of credibility, since the great masses of the people in the very bottom of their hearts tend to be corrupted rather than consciously and purposely evil, and that therefore, in view of the primitive simplicity of their minds, they more easily fall a victim to a big lie than to a little one,  since they themselves lie in little things, but would be ashamed of lies that were too big.  Such a falsehood will never enter their heads. And they will not be able to believe in the possibility of such monstrous effrontery and infamous misrepresentation in others; yes, even when enlightened on the subject, they will long doubt and waver, and continue to accept at least one of these causes as true.  Therefore, something of even the most insolent lie will always remain and stick – a fact which all the great lie-virtuosi and lying-clubs in this world know only too well and also make the most treacherous use of.
Adolf Hitler
Main Kampf

Friday, September 25, 2015

What happened in Afghanistan

The last chapter of the Somalia Inquiry

The entire report is here.

Somalia Inquiry report is here from Queen's University qspace..

Thursday, September 24, 2015

The Leaders' debates translated into beer

Stephen Harper:
Molson Canadian or Coors Light, beer that Canadians like and Americans own.

Tom Mulcair:
Granville Island Lager, beer made in Canada with Canadian industry under fair working conditions, to be exported easily and safely through the Beer East pipeline.

Justin Trudeau:

Elizabeth May:
We should all grow our own hops.

Gilles Duceppe:
Vous ne pouvez pas boire de la bière et de porter un niqab.

The Pope nails it.

Being at the service of dialogue and peace also means being truly determined to minimize and, in the long term, to end the many armed conflicts throughout our world. Here we have to ask ourselves: Why are deadly weapons being sold to those who plan to inflict untold suffering on individuals and society? Sadly, the answer, as we all know, is simply for money: money that is drenched in blood, often innocent blood. In the face of this shameful and culpable silence, it is our duty to confront the problem and to stop the arms trade.

The Magna Carta is 800 years old, alive and well in Canada

Read the whole thing here


Monday, September 21, 2015

Stephen Harper and the F35 impulse buy

Globe and Mail
National Post story

Fortunately, hotter heads might prevail...

Australian House of Representatives
Review of the Defence Annual Report 2010-2011

Of course, Steve's friend Tony Abbott already ejected:

Sunday, September 20, 2015

The obvious outcome for Canada's General Election

1.  Liberal/NDP coalition

2.  Elizabeth May is Prime Minister

Saturday, September 19, 2015

CPC Communications Strategy which mindfuck is a policy and illiteracy is a job description.

Our principled standing in the world.

Wherever we stand, we stand with the principle of never changing our minds, especially when the stand defies common sense, sanity, and the law.

Amidst heated debates about the political value of symbolic gestures, the General Assembly today adopted five resolutions on a wide range of topics, including the raising of flags by non-member observer States at the United Nations and debt restructuring.
The world body adopted the resolution on raising the flags of non-member observer States at the United Nations (document A/69/L.76) by a recorded vote of 119 in favour to 8 against (Australia, Canada, Israel, Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Palau, Tuvalu, United States), with 45 abstentions.  By the terms of that text, the General Assembly decided that the flags of non-member observer States maintaining permanent observer missions at Headquarters shall be raised at Headquarters and United Nations offices following the flags of the Members States of the Organization.
[emphasis added]

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Lynton Crosby

Maybe if we get a new deck chair...

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Fear and Nothing

The CPC Election Platform 2015

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Tabatha Southey: Elephant? What Duffy-shaped elephant?

Rex Murphy: Duffy's a lemon The Duffy lemon has been thoroughly squeezed and the pips have squeaked their last. It's been in the media blender so long - 45 days of trial, months and months of saturation media coverage - that there's now not even a scent, a mist, of juice left. The pulp has been…

Canada's civil service strikes back.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Thursday, August 6, 2015

August 8, 2015 - 70th anniversary of Article 6a, Charter of the International Military Tribunal

...and a great day to remember Tony Blair, Jack Straw, Lord Goldsmith, all these guys who bear individual responsibility for the invasion of Iraq

Article 6.
The Tribunal established by the Agreement referred to in Article 1 hereof for the trial and punishment of the major war criminals of the European Axis countries shall have the power to try and punish persons who, acting in the interests of the European Axis countries, whether as individuals or as members of organizations, committed any of the following crimes.
The following acts, or any of them, are crimes coming within the jurisdiction of the Tribunal for which there shall be individual responsibility:
(a) CRIMES AGAINST PEACE: namely, planning, preparation, initiation or waging of a war of aggression, or a war in violation of international treaties, agreements or assurances, or participation in a common plan or conspiracy for the accomplishment of any of the foregoing;
 [emphasis added]

Friday, July 31, 2015

Weapons manufacturers vs. the rest of us

Hiroshima in retrospect

It has been obvious since 1945 that we have the technology to incinerate ourselves.

Despite this obvious fact, huge industries keep producing weapons that have no obvious use.  Uses have to be manufactured.

No human conflict since 1945 has been settled by force of arms, and we could argue about how "settled" the outcome of World War 2 was. Nevertheless, people keep trying to settle disputes with the force of arms.

It never works but it makes a few people rich.

Let's take the Middle East and North Africa, an obvious disaster area into which NATO, Russia and China have inserted themselves by providing the technology to blow things up.  That's what it is: technology to blow things up.  No matter how sophisticated the technology, at its heart it is the means to hit somebody over the head with an axe.  The logic, such as it is, is that if you have more axes than the other people, you win.

People argue that nuclear weapons forced Japan's surrender.  There's even doubt about that.  As with the Eastern Front for Germany, there's an argument that what forced Japan's hand was the possibility that Russia would turn its murderous intention on Japan, so better to surrender to the Americans.

The only winners are the people who make the axes.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

The auto-radicalized extremist Islamist jihadist terrorists are coming! Or going. Whatever.

Part 1 of an educational series from the Government of Canada

Many citizens are concerned about the presence of Muslim hordes in Canada who might, without warning, become fanatical killers bent on destroying the fabric of decent, right-thinking, white society.

The Government of Canada understands these concerns, and provides the following guidance:

1.  There is absolutely nothing to worry about, as long as...

2.  ...the government has appropriate powers through its decent God-fearing Christian (and selected Jewish) agencies to...

3.  ...ignore the Charter, Magna Carta, and habeas corpus...

4.  ...and do what's needed as determined by The Strong Leader.  

Part 2:  When to phone the RCMP about Suspicious Activity