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