Sunday, December 17, 2006

world wide war of the flea

Perhaps, to follow up on my last post, Iraq is not keeping the insurgents at bay. Perhaps, Iraq is where the terrorists have the USA pinned down, while they re-establish themselves in Aghanistan, Somalia and other countries. Perhaps we are seeing a the early stages of a global insurgency. The strategies of the United States in Vietnam failed, and those same strategies are failing in Iraq. But from an insurgents point of view, they can spread beyond the borders of nations.

Mr Bush's commitment to protect the Bin Laden family, and the oil interests they, other Saudi's and the Bush family share, may have not only embroiled the United States in a pointless war, but allowed the jihadi's to grow in strength. Now, bled of wealth and force of arms, the US cannot fight effectively the broad, small unit counterinsurgency war that it must. A war where nation building takes almost complete precedence over war fighting. A war where economic development is the only viable strategic weapon. And a war where national boundaries are virtually irrelevant to the insurgents.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Those who slept through history class...

In 1965, Robert Taber's book War of the flea was published. It was a study of guerilla warfare and looked at how insurgencies win, and even occasionally lose. Taber's book seems prescient as regards Iraq, but in fact he also predicted the course of the Vietnam war, three years before the Tet offensive revealed the cracks in industrialised warfare รก la the U.S Army.

Taber felt that vested interests, primarily U.S fruit and coffee companies were setting the stage for similar hopeless wars in latin america. Taber ultimately said that "revolution cannot be suppressed" any more and needs to be channeled. Rather than spending money on a huge military presence, Taber argued that the USA should create latin american and african Swedens [my interpretation] to forestall revolution(Taber p.188).

It was as I read this that I realised that the US cannot do this, create liberal bourgoise welfare states, because Cuba and other leftist authoritarion states a provide examples in a false dichotomy of domestic U.S. political rhetoric, examples to maintain the domestic status quo.

"If we don't stay true to American values, we're gonna be just like Cuba." The US doesn't want to see a more "european" Canada either, because many american citizens might want to see such changes in their own country. Oddly enough,Cuba's Fidel Castro is just the boogy man the US needs to intimidate its own people. Fortunately, Venezuala's Hugo Chavez has appeared to say "boo" just as Fidel's health has begun to fail.

It's a pity that the "vulcans", as Rice, Wolfowitz ,et al styled themselves, didn't heed this book. As for the U.S. president, he is doomed to repeat history, himself a botched chimera of Teddy Roosevelt and Lyndon Johnson.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

A hierarchy of rights

The student union at Carleton University recently passed a motion banning student groups who oppose abortion. Their arguement is that a women's right to choose abortion is violated by groups who advocate" right to life" policies.

These groups are now suing under freedom of speech provisions in the Canadian Charter of rights and freedoms.

Are all rights equal or should some trump others?

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Pathologising life

If life is the slowest way we can die, could we say that all mental activity is a sign of mental illlness or unbalance?

General anxiety disorder used to be called " being a worry wart".
Depression used to be called malingering.

If behavior we used to consider bad is now but a sign of mental illness, then what constitutes mental health? If chemical unbalance defines mental illness, then what is the state of chemical balance? How do we know this?

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Triathlon, philosophy, music oh my

Hmmm, my blog's title states that I'll talk about politics(check), booze(check), philosophy(check, because everything is philosophy), but I've yet to mention triathlon or music. And to be honest I haven't explicitly mentioned my interest in phenomenology and aesthetics as a means to answering questions raised by Kant and addressed inadequately 'ahem' by Schopenhauer.

I've returned to the gym after a 5 year absence. The new Downtown YMCA in Montreal was a victim of it's own success and after working there as a fitness instructor for a few months, I left, all the while pining for the old arrangement with the cardio and weight rooms on seperate floors. The new Y had too many members and was excessively crowded all the time.

My wife and I took out memberships at a private Gym in Gatineau, and it has that good feeling of being active, without feeling crammed.

As for my training, I completed a half marathon last year, and I want to do a marathon in 2007. Oh but how the conditioning has slipped. My performance is Slow, Painful and with Much Work to do to regain my former speed and endurance.

As for music, I'm still writing and looking for other musicians. Sheila is a wonderful drummer, but hates playing live. As soon as myspace figures out how to allow canadian registrations, I'll post some mp3s of our originals.

If you happen to drop by why not leave me a note?

Monday, December 04, 2006

The mouse that roared

Stephane Dion came from the hinterlands of the previous liberal cabinet to become the new leader of the opposition. The pundits from Quebec and the West mostly say that he a) can't speak English properly and b) everyone in Quebec hates him.

In fact, when Dion declared himself a Canadian and lead the charge towards the Clarity act, the liberals actually rose in popularity in Quebec. The problem is that the nattering classes in the rest of Canada listen too unquestioningly to the nattering classes and the political elites in Quebec. These groups are predominantly nationalist, if not outright sovereignist. As a result they slander any Quebecois who embraces confederation. However, we must remember that when given a vote, the majority of people in the province of Quebec have twice chosen to stay in Canada. Moreover, quebecers respect a passionate intellectual with a strong opinion, not necessarily a rockstar- and M.Dion fits that description.

As for the reports of his weakness in English, that's bigotry from the Right out west. Stephane Dion speaks with better english grammar than M.Chretien(which isn't hard)and with a broader fluency than Ralph Klein. His accent is strong but hardly difficult.

As for charisma, Pierre Trudeau was considered uncharismatic early on in his political career. Besides, his chief opponent is Stephen Harper, who hardly counts as charismatic.

I'm hardly one to endorse the liberal party, but the current criticisms against Stephane Dion border on sophmoric, if not simply adolescent. Two-bit criticisms do nothing for Canada nor our country's political discourse.

I'd like to know how M.Dion proposes to grow an economy while shrinking energy use- and how to do it in the face of the supporters of (excreable) tar-sands projects.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

accustions of violence spark riots, killings

Why is it that accusations that Islam promotes violence fosters Muslim protests that seem to involve blowing up, burning down or killing off people and things? Why domuslim leaders feel that one must expect that critical, even offensive words necessarily lead to violent reactions on the part of muslims?

Hypocrisy and violence may not be found in Islam's teachings, but these characteristics seem prevalent in its adherents.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Sunday suicide

Today, i dicovred the Bubba Keg. It holds about six standartd beers in Thermally isolated bliss. I've reloaded it 4 times and feel no pain.

This is true sunday suicide- where you eliminate all higher braion fu nctions(including spelling) and just pretend you don't exist al that is left is the tv and cheap beer. Sleeman' geuine draftreplaces the indiustrial malt beverage y'all pronba;ly consume. It is the beer that Molson and labatt aspire to.


more lame, banal, run of the mill political op[inionm later.

fuck yopu11!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Where have the terrorists gone?

Since September 11th, 2001 there have been no succesful foreign terrorist attacks within the United States. Al Qaeda has claimed no attacks within the continental United States. The two best known terror campaigns following chronologically after 9/11 were the anthrax attacks, and the Beltway Sniper attacks of autumn 2002. These seem to be examples of domestic terrorism, and unaffiliated with Jihadist terror campaigns.

Certainly, there were windows of opportunity for terrorist strikes from jihadi sleeper cells within the US. The blackouts in summer 2004 and the hurricane Katrina disaster of 2005 tied up police and military resources across the US. A single car bomb or a sniper in a major city, along with a communique from Al Qaeda would have done terrific damage to citizens moral, the american economy and the administration's reputation. The islamic terrorists currently opposing the US are not stupid- they must have recognised the opportunity. Yet they did nothing.

Where did they go?

Suicide bombing and sniper campaigns are the tactics of smaller, economically weaker opponents.

"The war is hugely expensive. "The cost-benefit ratio is against us! Our cost is billions against the terrorists' cost of millions."- Donald rumsfeld, qouted in USA today

The US makes rifles easily available- a sniper terror campaign would be easy to fund and support. A car bomb campaign is only marginally more difficult. And the losses to a terrorist organisation are well within acceptable limits, for a terrorist- 1 attack, 1 man. So if small scale terror attacks are so easy and jihadis so determined, why have terror attacks occured in Spain, Indonesia, The UK and Iraq, but not in the US?

The simplest answer is there are no more jihadis in the US. A trio of Iraqis were apprehended trying to enter the south western US from Mexico early last fall, and the US administration claims to have thwarted a dozen attacks. As the Bush administration frequently pointed out, the terrorists "only have to get it right once". Yet they haven't even tried- a blessing for american citizens at home.

I'm not comfortable in admitting this, but perhaps Donald Rumsfeld's strategy of drawing terrorists to Iraq has worked, at least in the short term. The problem is, that Iraq is virtually a college for terrorists and insurgents- and the US is effectively paying their tuition. Trained and practiced against US forces, these jihadis will not disappear when the US leaves Iraq. And when the US leaves Iraq, those terrorists will turn their sights on the US itself. Instead of focussing on Afghanistan, which is now seeing a growing Taliban insurgency, Mr. Bush invaded Iraq. The war there is likely, according to Mr. Bush himself, to last beyond his presidency. That of course is the problem- few in his administration have to worry about the future. Most of the senior players are either approaching retirement, or needn't face the electorate.

Mr. Bush said this week, that the resolution of the Iraq war and the end of the war on terror would occur under a future president. Of course, he can't be elected again, and so any debacle will occur under someone else's watch. Should there still be jihadis alive( and who seriously doubts that for every terrorist killed, two are recruited?) I hope the american people remember who bequethed them the mess in Iraq, the resurgent Taliban in Afghanistan and the reinforced enemy knocking at their door in the near future. Certainly, the outgoing Bush administration will shed few tears for a Hillary Clinton or John McCain presidency coping with a 9 trillion dollar debt and commensurate deficit, and a growing insurgent threat.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Freedom to offend

I don't like everything I hear, but perhaps I have a responsibility to listen. The current conflagaration around the cartoons of the prophet Mohammed(peace be upon him) reveals the very real sense of outrage felt by the people of Islam regarding the portrayal of their ultimate spiritual leader.

The opinions in the western media have been divided, partially because unsavoury elements enjoy using this debate to insult ethnic and religous groups. Oh, yes- skin heads and neo nazi's support their own freedom of expression but not that of other's.

The notion of unconditional freedom of expression comes partially in response to the west's own history of supressing ideas that were perceived as offensive, seditious, and blasphemous. For example, Galileo was threatened with torture and immolation for blasphemy- He argued that the earth orbits the sun, in opposition to the Church of Rome's doctrine that God had placed earth at the center of the Universe.

Even earlier, the Athenian philosopher Socrates was condemned for blasphemy and corrupting the youth(he taught them how to be critical thinkers). His trial bears some parallels to our debates about the cartoons of Mohammed currently arousing such anger. At Socrates' trial, virtually any adult male in athens could give his opinion but some opinions were frowned upon. Similarly, we take for granted the right to criticise cartoonists for being irresponsible, offensive and disrespectful. Socrates was ultimately executed for speaking his mind. Similarly, politicians in Canada, the U.S and Britain have criticised cartoonists for abusing free speech.

The problem with liberty of discussion is we only really have it when the discussion is heated, the stakes are high and there is no agreement. Freedom of expression only exists when censorship and force are curbed.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Why I like, respect and won't vote for Duceppe

The second leader's debate aired on national tv last night. The formula wasn't Jerry Springer, with screaming, shouting and public nudity, but it actually allowed the candidates to present their policies and their characters . Unfortunately, these characters are rather uninspiring.

Mr Harper doesn't want to say what he wants to do. He mostly makes quiet comments about values, and promises that are not available to any federal leader[gay marriage and healthcare are matters of provincial jurisdiction as M.Duceppe reminded him].

Mr.Martin is proof that Canadians like pleasant,efficient and bland politicians. Otherwise he'd be in exile fleeing corruption charges.

Jack Layton has a job to do, which is to hammer home the message "vote NDP", don't hold your nose and vote Liberal lest Harper gets elected. The result is he didn't have time to present his more nuanced opinions- he used catch phrases and code words to remind people he is a leftist/progressive. Unfortunately, his hard sell style probably annoys the parlour pink socialists in the academy. However he might reach the people who should vote for him. Besides he looks like the old PM's on Canadian currency.

Ultimately, Gilles Duceppe the man who can't be Prime minister, spoke his mind freely, presented his points with vigour and dignity. If only he were a federalist.

"If I had to choose between betraying my country and betraying my friend, I hope I should have the guts to betray my country."
-E.M. Forster