Saturday, January 31, 2009
I thought that I'd be able to get some valuable debate on a complicated subject. I don't claim to know everything, though on this issue I've said before that I'm glad I didn't waste my time taking the pro-war people seriously. But still, these seemed like decent, informed individuals. I asked them how they could explain the continued growth of the insurgency after several year's of military effort and "nation building."
Pathetically, Terry Glavin was unable to answer this very central question and decided to hide behind bluster and insults. "Brian" the administrator of the site appears content to simply ignore me (My latest reply has gone five days without an answer) and to hope that I go away. Which I shall. I've no interest in providing negative, unanswered replies to Brian's entries until he starts to delete them out of frustration.
But what makes this all so very, very sad, is that I'm not asking them to account for some minor detail about this adventure they're supporting. It's really quite important: If the job is to defeat the Taliban and stabilize the society, then why has the Taliban (or, more accurately, the insurgency) managed to grow in numbers and increase the amount of territory under its control after seven years of occupation?
Why has violence increased? Why are living standards still abysmal?
Glavin, on his website, posted a picture of a woman who I'll presume is Canadian, surrounded by roughly twenty Afghan women and girls, all smiling for the camera. Let's assume that this Canadian woman is doing good work in Afghanistan and that those twenty Afghan females are all immeasurably the richer for it. Is this why "the mission" should be supported? Because, you know, one could probably find twenty Afghan women and girls whose lives have been destroyed by the occupation. Perhaps things have gotten worse for them since the Taliban fell. The Taliban confined them to their homes but the 2001 bombing campaign forced them to flee and suffer starvation during the winter. One could easily find twenty Afghan women whose husbands have been killed at NATO checkpoints leaving them destitute. One could probably find twenty Afghan women who have been serially raped by the bands of warlord monsters now running the country.
The point is that twenty people is not a large number and this is all consistent with my belief (stated to Brian on his meaningless blog) that whatever good is done by well-intentioned individuals is going to be drowned in a sea of official imperialism and corruption. Given the fact that we're no closer to bringing stability and decent living standards to that country than we were seven years ago, it's important to ask whether we know what we're doing, as well as whether we're doing more harm than good.
Once more, for emphasis: The insurgency has increased in size and it has increased the area of the country under its control. I once wrote, "if this is winning, I'd hate to see what losing looks like." To make things even simpler: We're not winning, we're losing. Okay? Get it? The "mission" is failing. If you think the mission is genuinely supposed to serve the people of Afghanistan and strengthen its government, then its up to YOU to account for its failure after seven years of effort. It's not up to opponents of the war to defend themselves against their adversaries' failures.
This is a central question and the fact that these individuals do not face it, will not face it, cannot face it, is testimony to the bankruptcy of their position. For whatever reason that they support it despite their obvious intelligence, their reasonableness grants a veneer of decency to what remains a fundamentally imperialist project. But, if these people are too deluded to accept reality but seem determined to stay sitting in their circle-jerks of mutual admiration, then the NATO airstrikes will continue to rain death and destruction upon innocent villagers who perhaps only armed themselves in self-defence against the very same regime of child-rapists and drug-dealers that all of our tax-dollars are funding.
Friday, January 30, 2009
Terry Glavin's Chronicles & Dissent.
I thought about doing so because, like Brian of The Canada-Afghanistan Blog, Glavin seemed more than capable of arguing his way out of a paper-bag and I thought it'd be worthwhile to debate this serious subject with him. As well, Glavin appears to be a serious writer about serious stuff and he was even invited to write for The Tyee in order to shake things up with his independent viewpoint.
Alas, Glavin has proven to be a huge disappointment. The top post on his blog today was "Fire in the Belly" and in it Glavin points to a woman who is working in Afghanistan and doing some good and therefore all the leftists against the war are "cultural relativists" who want the people of Afghanistan to suffer forever under the horrid Taliban. The comments section was full of self-satisfied asinine commentary about the stupid fuckers who oppose the war and hate women and democracy and love Islamo-fascism. I couldn't resist making an attempt to clarify matters.
Terry and all,
I'm not adverse to getting any hands dirty in pursuit of a larger cause.
What you don't seem to grasp is that in Afghanistan, Canada has decided to enter into a cauldron of violent hatreds while making only half-assed attempts to construct anything of lasting good.
We support a government propped-up by gangster warlords, riddled with corruption, whose own security forces are creating more and more insurgents every day, and you want to believe that somehow this will all work out for the best because in this time and this place US imperialism will act out of humanitarian impulses?
No what's been happening and what's going to happen is that we're going to get our hands dirty in pursuit of a dirty business, and our hands will be stained forever for nothing essentially.
You purport to be opposed to Islamo-fascism (or whatever you call it), but I fail to see how invading their countries and mocking their religions is going to make the Islamic world less insular and defensive rather than more so.
Canada and its NATO allies have had seven years to defeat the insurgency. Yet, somehow, it's only gotten larger. I'd submit that it has something to do with the amoral motivations of the people in charge.
That comment earned me the following reply from Glavin:
Your anonymity may allow you to make outrageous assertions without having to be embarrassed by them, but you clearly have no interest in learning anything about the subject you've come here to pronounce upon.
I've got to hand it to you for audacity, though. Telling me what I "fail to grasp" about Afghanistan - that's rich.
You have absolutely no idea what you're talking about. But worse than that, your claim that this is all about "invading their countries and mocking their religions" betrays an outrageous ignorance about Afghanistan, and more importantly it betrays a most lurid and bigoted assumption about Muslims. You have conflated the Islamist variant of fascism with Islam. How low an opinion of Muslims must one have in order to think that calling the Taliban ideology by its proper name amounts to mocking "their" religion?
But nevermind. You keep telling yourself these things. I'm sure it will make you feel much better about yourself. You are so virtuous; we are so beastly. And the world passes you by.
There is no such thing as "the Islamic world."
Now then, I'm going to have to recreate my follow-up to that one here, because to my surprise/shock/dismay, when I returned to see what he had to say to it I only saw: "Comment Deleted:This post has been deleted by a blog administrator." Here's how I remember my now deleted reply as going:
A weak response. I'm not sure where you were trying to go with it.
You begin by pointing out that my real name isn't "thwap" as if that constitutes a weakness in my arguments.
Next, you say that challenging Terry Glavin constitutes "audacity" which likewise weakens the truth of what I'm saying.
Then you jumble up everything that I said into a straw-man that's easier for you to defeat.
Let's keep this simple. Answer one question for me: Why do you think that the insurgency has gotten bigger after seven years of occupation, rather than successfully defeated? I'd say it has something to do with the NATO airstrikes which kill thousands, the poppy-eradication program and the Karzai government's corruption and brutality. What do you say?
That was followed by this nugget from Glavin:
The anonymous author of the post I just deleted instructed me thus: "Tell you what. We'll keep it simple. Limit your next reply to one issue."
Okay, here's my reply: Grow up. Cultivate some manners. Spend some time in a library. In the meantime, keep you gob shut about matters you know nothing about, and don't expect that people you insult will waste their time in trying to explain things to you, as generously as I have.
Life's short. Get on with it.
Now, here's the thing: I've deleted comments here from time to time. But (and if it's important to you, you can check) the only comments I've deleted are from trolls who admitted that they were only trying to bait me with snide comments about my supposed mental health problems, another fellow who kept making racist attacks on Six Nations activists and from the nauseating "Wayne" who frequently commented on my site in my first year and who I feel that I was more that patient with. If someone genuinely tried to debate with me, I engaged with them ninety-percent of the time and I never deleted a post that revealed me to be confounded.
Glavin appears to have intellectual insecurities reaching Christopher Hitchens proportions. By refusing to answer very simple questions about the significance of undeniable facts, by hiding behind laughable claims to his non-existant authority, by making nothing but repeated assertions as if they were statements of fact, Glavin has shown himself unworthy of intellectual debate. And that's a shame. From his introduction on The Tyee, Glavin appears to have written some serious books about First Nations peoples and on other topics. But from my encounter with him, he appears to be a childish, empty-headed bully.
And this isn't supposed to be a game of "gotcha!" or an esoteric intellectual exercise. Real people are being killed. Real people are suffering. People support "the mission" in Afghanistan for important reasons and other people oppose it for important reasons. If one side is right, it means a better life for 30 million people as opposed to abject misery. If the other side is right, it means that those 30 million people will continue to suffer and die and Canada's international reputation will be shredded and "democracy" will be discredited.
But we have to have the courage to stand up for our positions. We can't hide behind insults, arrogance and cowardly censorship.
I think that I might add another "pro-war" blog now. Terry Glavin's blog ("Terry Glavin: Chronicles and Dissent"). During an exchange on the Canada-Afghanistan Blog, Mr. Glavin showed up and critiqued my position with what I must confess was a supremely incoherent argument. Brian and I have been going back and forth about the significance of various horrific actions by the Taliban on one side and the Afghan Security Force on the other. Brian points to the sickening incident where Taliban scum threw acid into the faces of girls on their way to school, and I counter with the allegations of child rape against Karzai's military, alleged by our own Canadian Forces.
Glavin also writes for The Tyee and in his opening editorial displays all the brilliant incoherence that should make for interesting exchanges in the future.
Thursday, January 29, 2009
I kinda expected this. I thought at the beginning of the prorogation that harpo would take this idiotic "do-over" and put together a compromise budget and that either the Liberals or the Liberals AND the NDP would cave.
It's too bad really. Now we've got a third-rate "stimulus" program, crafted by a monkey-brained doofus with no understanding of the role of government in any year after 1914.
I hope Liberal supporters take heed of Layton's admonition. If you want more of the same spinelessness, vote for the party that hides from parliament during confidence votes, the party that has been terrified for the past half-decade of facing the electorate due to its lack of any coherent platform. The reason it doesn't have a platform is because what it really believes in is the same unpalatable neoliberalism it pretends to decry. After Paul Martin's reign of austerity followed by listless incoherence, Canadian voters are pretty unenthusiastic for more of the same. But that's all the Liberals have got.
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
Linda McQuaig's Shooting the Hippo is all you have to read to understand that it was monetarist anti-inflation insanity that produced massive deficits in the early-1980s and early-1990s.
But guess what? Even then, we never reached a "debt-wall." As I wrote yesterday, the modest levels of economic growth of the Clinton years would have been effective at reducing that debt level WITHOUT the painful social service cuts of Paul Martin Jr. and Jean Chretien. That's why I think those two guys were assholes. They put us through the wringer, just because they were as keen to offer up tax-cuts to the wealthiest and convince Canadians that it's better to bankrupt yourself paying for private services than it is to achieve things collectively.
We weren't in any danger from the debt levels of the 1990s and harpo's smoke-and-mirrors budget (which will produce some real deficits) isn't going to drive us over a cliff.
Tuesday, January 27, 2009
Today, hell freezes over.
The puffed-up posturing by opposition leaders in preparation for today's phoney showdown on the Rideau has distracted Canadians from an act of betrayal few of us ever thought we'd see.
This starts out as traditional pseudo-populist, mindless slagging of politicians. But note, how it's all going to descend into incoherence. McInnes refers to one of the few moments of genuine democratic debate in Ottawa as a "phoney showdown" but will go on to condemn the Liberals' Michael Ignatieff for even daring to defeat the government. Which is it McInnes? A "phoney showdown" or a "coup d'etat"?
A small-c conservative from Alberta is leading Canada into a new era of deficit budgets with a plan that over the next couple of years will turn back more than a decade of progress in reducing the national debt.
Yes, that's about right. A "decade of progress," which in reality means starving necessary programs of funds, ripping workers off via the "Employment Insurance" scam of all premiums and no benefits, all to bring the deficit down a couple of years earlier than it would have if only economic growth had had to have done it alone. (As well, this "economic growth" was pretty thin gruel. It was really just a needed respite from monetarist anti-inflation insanity which sent government deficits spiralling in the first place. Furthermore, this "debt-reduction" was mitigated by Paul Martin's touching dedication to giving Canada's wealthiest individuals and corporations continuous tax-cuts so that they could build monster homes or lose the money in the stock-markets. The depths of neo-liberal insanity and failure become mind-boggling once you really get going, don't they?)
Prime Minister Stephen Harper's extraordinary reversal of a lifetime of bashing big-spending governments, deficits, debt and Keynesian economics is a stunning betrayal of his politics, the promises he made in the federal election just three months ago.
Well, first of all, harpo's political-economic convictions don't really rest on any principled theories or beliefs. What he's always on about is serving his corporate masters, although in his cold, shallow mental processes he's developed no real rationalization for his sycophancy. He just adores power. Secondly, any sane capitalist political leader would have to resort to Keynesian economics because, truth be told, they were designed to save the capitalist system from itself. All that 19th-Century rot about free markets and small governments is just for the rubes. Lastly, those weren't promises he made in the last election. The right word for those things was "lies." harpo broke his own fixed election law because he knew an economic shit-storm was coming and he didn't want to face the electorate in 2009, right in the middle of it.
Yet the only issue today seems to be whether he will be driving Canada into debt quickly enough. In the days leading up to the federal budget that will be tabled this afternoon, Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff has set himself up as judge and executioner for the Harper government if he finds the budget introduced by Finance Minister Jim Flaherty falls short of his expectations.
So, which is it Craig? Is Ignatieff illegitimately granting himself the power to be Leader of the Opposition in a parliamentary system of government or is he just playing pretend? And I guess he's damned if he do, damned if he don't in your colouring book 'eh?
But unless Harper includes the kind of nasty surprise he dropped into November's economic update, the Liberals won't be keen to match their tough talk by forcing the prime minister to go see the Governor-General again, even if Ignatieff really believes Michaelle Jean will allow him to form a coalition government with the NDP rather than immediately face the voters.
But if he did match his tough talk, you'd be all over him for usurping the
Even so, the budget Flaherty unveils today is the biggest test of Harper's political career. His startling and sudden conversion to deficit budgeting as a cure for economic ills rather than a cause may be useful in slipping through the political crisis he provoked in November. But it comes with a cost that has yet to be fully calculated.
"Deficits as a cause of economic ills," ... it is to laugh. Tell you what Craig, ... why don't you crack open a textbook about how economics works and get back to us? If McInnes has a mortgage or a credit card he should take a paintbrush and paint "Hypocrite" across his chest and wander the earth pleading for forgiveness.
First, there is his personal credibility. Consider this statement by Harper on Oct. 6, just over three months ago:
"I know economists will say well, we could run a small deficit, but the problem is that once you cross that line, as we see in the United States, nothing stops deficits from getting larger and larger and spiralling out of control."
harpo's "personal credibility" was shot to shit when he called that election, remember? (It was probably shot to shit long before that, but what the hell.) With regards to his quote, it's sheer stupidity. If "nothing" prevents deficits from spiralling out of control, then how the hell did we manage to reduce them and eventually obtain surpluses? (Not that I'm praising Paul Martin's surpluses, just pointing out the meaningless drivel of harpo's statement.)
He argues that the world has changed in the past three months, and it has. Or at least the outlook for the coming year has changed as, one by one, economists have abandoned their optimistic
But Harper has yet to explain how even a rapidly deteriorating economic climate negates our previous terrible experience with red ink in Canada.
harpo has been forced to snap back to reality in order to save his political skin. My guess is the buffoon allowed half-wit Flaherty to concoct a 19th-Century economic update to which harpo added the poison pill knee-capping the opposition parties' finances in a game of chicken which would either force yet another election on Canadians or frighten the Liberals into agreeing to their own financial suicide. What harpo didn't count on was the opposition proposing to the Governor General the exact same coalition option he'd presented himself when he was busy toppling Liberal governments. Realizing his government was at death's door, the fat fuck ran shitting and pissing in terror to Rideau Hall to get his prorogation and time to put together something less idiotic. (Meanwhile, Flaherty stood their with his usual stupid expression babbling "What'd I do??")
Regarding Canada's last experience with deficits and debts; it isn't well reported but the real culprit behind those deficits was the monetary policy of the Central Bank. No ifs, ands, or buts about it. Deliberate engineering recessions with high interest rates led to massive government spending on decaying social programs, that required borrowing at high interest rates. Don't worry though. The financial sector that benefited from all of that put our money to good use, gambling on tech stocks and then mortgage-backed securities and credit-default swaps. Assholes.
Neither has he pointed to any evidence of the kind that will persuade small-c fiscal conservatives that the benefits of a multibillion-dollar stimulus package can outweigh the cost of plunging back into the debt whirlpool from which we have only recently emerged.
Jesus, what empty-headed windbaggery! Perhaps all these "small-c conservative" ignoramuses can explain to us how government austerity will outweigh the cost of plunging into a recessionary whirlpool?? You know, the one we're experiencing now? As lack of spending leads to contraction of the economy, which leads to unemployment, which leads to less spending, etc., etc., et-fucking-cetera??? This isn't the time for brainless generalities Craig. The grown-ups have work to do!!
All we have really seen is the unending parade of supplicants who see the economic crisis as an opportunity to squeeze money out of the federal government for their pet projects.
As opposed to an endless parade of corporate hacks calling for more tax-cuts, deregulation, less job-security, more freedoms for themselves, more pain for everyone else. More criminal privatization schemes, more homelessness, more poverty, more imperialism, more surveillance, less civil rights, and on and on.
Politically, the Conservatives' conversion to deficit financing will cement the reputation of the Liberals, fairly or not, as the party of balanced budgets and leave Harper in league with Brian Mulroney, whose legacy includes the tens of billions of dollars that were added to our national debt while he was prime minister.
Newsflash for you Craig: "Conservatives" tend to be incompetent because they're stupid. But, in fairness, Mulroney's woes were partially the fault of monetarist fanatic John Crow of the Bank of Canada. Trudeau's big deficits came under the monetarism of Gerald Bouey who was going along with the Friedmanite insanity of the Reagan administration.
If the Bank of Canada is right, and the recession ends next year, this may all end well for Harper. But it's an awfully large gamble, for Harper, his party and the country.
Actually Craig, most mainstream economists have their heads up their asses. And most official pronouncements have been trying to stave-off panic more than be straight with the public, so they're not worth the air they're spoken on. If braindead disciples of discredited economic dogma such as yourself continue to pollute the political climate with this garbage this economic crisis will get worse and worse and last a long, long time.
Monday, January 26, 2009
Saturday, January 24, 2009
This cartoon sums up the insanity of our present anti-recession policies (borrow money to give to the banks to grant more loans to over-extended borrowers, and hope that the banks don't just cover their existing bad loans with it).
This is a hilarious assault on Tom Friedman's efforts to play at being an environmentalist.
This is a decent summary of an economy in free-fall.
Friday, January 23, 2009
Thursday, January 22, 2009
No matter, as we see from the bush II administration, constant failure doesn't seem to have any impact on the careers of right-wing morons. As long as you're "conservative" (i.e., you say exactly what your corporate masters want you to) you're immune from the consequences of your actions. Ezra has been sucking hard on the teat of wingut welfare for the past 15 years. He co-founded The Western Standard, which failed under his direction and has been reduced to a blog featuring the ravings of Adam Yoshida. He became awed at the intellectual might of Stockwell Day and helped him become leader of the Canadian Alliance and served as his communications director. In a particularly hilarious episode, Levant sparred with Conservative Party of Canada leader Stephen Harper, who had pushed aside Levant's hero Day, as leader of the CA over Harper's choice of Calgary Southwest as a nice, safe seat. Levant had been raising money to run in that riding himself and only conceded after considerable public acrimony with the leader of his party.
Levant's post refers to the shameful media attention to FBI claims that Omar Khader admitted having seen Maher Arar in terrorist training camps in Afghanistan. At the time, I posted that you would have to be monumentally stupid and incompetent to print garbage like that. There is no excuse for a functioning adult to think it worthwhile to print information obtained through torture to slander a man already exonerated of the charges against him. As it turns out, Khader was asked to "take a couple of minutes" to think about whether or not he recognized Arar's photograph, and that the frightened young man told his captors that he'd seen Arar in Afghanistan, but at a time (it turned out) when Arar was under surveillance in Canada and when Khader would only have been six or seven years old.
By that point, Levant had printed his post accusing Arar of lying, and resurrecting drivel from the Western Standard, as if those unsourced, groundless speculations were vindicated by the lies being printed today. He crowed about a radio interview he'd be giving in a later post that day (when news about the emptiness of the accusations was being released) and again, pathetically, dredged up more crapola from his failed rag.
He has not, at this point, posted a public apology to Maher Arar. He has managed to let the sane people have the last word in his comments section, but I'm sure the shitheads who typed their blather about how Arar's story never "passed the smell test" and other such deluded dumb-fuckery are safe in their cocoons again, masturbating about Keifer Sutherland having his way with them.
Wednesday, January 21, 2009
What do I mean by "Great President"? Franklin Delano Roosevelt is considered a "great president," but he was obviously still an capitalist-imperialist president. But so far as US presidents and capitalist politicians go, he's considered great for what he accomplished, and what he did was rise to the occasion. He responded to two gigantic crises with what turned out to be great competence.
Obama isn't on his way to being a great president. He's a bunch of empty words, stirringly delivered, who has surrounded himself with the same old batch of failed imperialists and con-men and con-women. He's been a disappointment precisely because he promised so much change, but has offered mostly betrayal. I was going to check out a recording of his inaugural address on Crooks and Liars because I was so impressed with his delivery at his victory speech, but he thanked bush II for "his eight years of service" and I couldn't stomach anymore.
But Obama has the same chances that FDR had. Gigantic world crises, including an even greater bankruptcy of the capitalist system than the Great Depression. Unlike bush II, Obama is an intelligent man who can respond to reality. He'll be a "great president" if he's able to abandon the failed wisdom of the Washington system and respond with sensible, pro-people policies, because that's what's necessary, not increasingly desperate and obvious servitude to oligarchy.
On the other hand, maybe it's like Alexander Cockbourn put it in his own impish way. He loved bush II because nobody did a better job of destroying the American Empire. Maybe a complete failure would be the best thing for the world.
Tuesday, January 20, 2009
Of course not.
So where the fuck does the CBC get off repeating the words of an obviously delusional and incompetent CIA agent (delusional because he imagines that his revolting lies mean anything to sane people) saying that Omar Khadr picked Maher Arar from a group of photographs stating that he saw him at a terrorist training camp in Afghanistan?
Arar's life was first destroyed when he was identified by another innocent Canadian who was being tortured in Syria at the behest of Canadian "intelligence" agencies for having an out-of-date tourist map of Ottawa in the glove compartment of his delivery truck. Under pressure from Arar's magnificent wife Monia Mazigh and several other fine people who make this a country worth living in, Arar's case was investigated by the Honourable Justice, Dennis O'Connor, who determined unequivacably that Arar was an innocent man whose rights were cruelly violated and he was awarded $10.5 million in compensation for those outrages.
For some reason, the CBC and other media outlets still saw fit to publish the information that Omar Khadr identified him from a photograph while being interrogated in Camp X-Ray at Guantanamo Bay. This, in spite of the fact that it is known beyond a shadow of a doubt that Khadr has been tortured. In spite of the fact that it is known that evidence obtained under torture is worthless because people will say anything to stop the torture.
Perhaps I should call up the CBC and tell them there's still people talking about the Jews staying home on 9-11 2001, and they could put on the top of their website. Talk about it on the evening news. Shit, why don't I just torture somebody in my basement until they admit that Stephen Harper raped them, and then I'll call their Ottawa correspondent with the "news"?
In short, how completely stupid and/or callous do you have to be to publish garbage like that? How ignorant of journalistic standards do you have to be? Shame on everyone in the mainstream media who has been a party to this travesty!
For an indication of how loathsomely stupid these "journalists" and "editors" are to have relayed this information, let's note that the imbecilic Ezra Levant has also taken this story and waddled with it. In a sick sort of way, it's actually laughable that Levant believes this ridiculous garbage "vindicates" his failed line of toilet-paper, The Western Standard.
Canadian Cynic mentions that even a really stupid, non-practicing lawyer should know better than to libel someone as a "liar" and hopes that Arar will sue Levant for having done just that in the title of his post. Indeed. I would like to see Arar sue every corporate media outlet that published this slander and reopened old wounds.
ETA: Dr. Dawg says what I've said and more, and also links to the Toronto Star speaking intelligently on the subject. Finally, Khadr's "information" was given out at Bagram Base in Afghanistan, not at Guantanamo. Both sites are notorious for torture.
Monday, January 19, 2009
Friday, January 16, 2009
Thursday, January 15, 2009
1. The dude/dudette who posts at "The Cylinder" will be posting mainly at "filasteen" these days, so "filasteen" has been added to the blogroll.
2. Hat-tip to Patrick "Asshole" Ross for having a link to "Canada-Afghanistan Blog." This guy/gal's blog is in support of Canada's "mission" in Afghanistan, ... a position that I find indefensible. However, the guy/gal seems like a decent, intelligent person, so I intend to find out how anyone with half a brain could still support something so compromised after seven years of failure. I'll be perusing (sp? care?) it for the next little while anyway.
Sorry there's nothing profound or entertaining today.
Wednesday, January 14, 2009
Tuesday, January 13, 2009
It's hard to overstate the magnitude of the failure of American reconstruction in Afghanistan. While the U.S. has occupied the country -- for seven years and counting -- and efficiently set up a network of bases and prisons, it has yet to restore to Kabul, the capital, a mud brick city slightly more populous than Houston, a single one of the public services its citizens used to enjoy. When the Soviets occupied Afghanistan in the 1980s, they modernized the education system and built power plants, dams, factories, and apartment blocs, still the most coveted in the country. If, in the last seven years, George W. Bush did not get the lights back on in the capital, or the water flowing, or dispose of the sewage or trash, how can we assume Barack Obama will do any better with the corrupt system he's about to inherit?
Between 2002 and 2008, the U.S. pledged $10.4 billion dollars in "development" (reconstruction) aid to Afghanistan, but actually delivered only $5 billion of that amount. Considering that the U.S. is spending $36 billion a year on the war in Afghanistan and about $8 billion a month on the war in Iraq, that $5 billion in development aid looks paltry indeed. But keep in mind that, in a country as poor as Afghanistan, a little well spent money can make a big difference.
The problem is not simply that the Bush administration skimped on aid, but that it handed it over to for-profit contractors. Privatization, as is now abundantly clear, enriches only the privateers and serves only their private interests.
Again, the continued growth of the insurgency, the growing instability, the continued lack of development, ... whatever strands of gold that the deluded want to find amongst the dross of our failed mission are simply not enough to reverse the prevailing pattern.
Monday, January 12, 2009
Ah well, ... what's the big story today on the CBC?
Something about how Barack Obama will issue an executive order for the closure of the military prison at Guantanamo Bay.
I recall this story. Supposedly it's a "challenge" to close it right away, because some of the inmates are so dangerous, crafty and Islamic, that they haven't even been charged with any crimes. They're also capable of smashing out of cells in your typical "super-max" detention centre in the USA (though why they haven't obliterated the plastic hand-cuffs and tent prisons at Guantanamo with their mystical Muslim powers of evil remains an inscrutable mystery) and USians are shitting their pants at the idea of the most evil men ever born being brought to US soil.
What sheer stupidity.
Sunday, January 11, 2009
The blog will be more active after today. I notice that I still have Indian alphabets on my tool-bar.
I also notice that Canada's "mission" in Afghanistan turns out to be the same disaster it's been for the past seven years. Therefore, it is still true that I saved a lot of time by basically ignoring all the crapola spewed by right-wing war enthusiasts over the years. They were wrong in 2001 and they continue to be murderously stupidly wrong in 2009.
I also can't fail to note the significance of Ontario's have-not status after decades of de-industrialization and public sector spending cuts. All those lost manufacturing jobs were not replaced by sexy, high-paying jobs in information services, ... this comes as a surprise to nobody but liberal and "conservative" nitwits.