Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Tuesday News Round-Up



There's three things I'm just aching to write about today, so I'll dump 'em all out in a dog's breakfast of a post.

First of all, this CBC report from Brian Stewart: "Canada in Kandahar, some allies weren't impressed." It's based on a recent series of books and reports, some written by US or British military leaders, some based upon their testimony, saying that they had a lot of problems with Canada's contribution to the occupation of Afghanistan.

I'd like to get this out of the way at once: One of the commentators at the CBC web page points out a glaring error:
"Cowper-Coles records how he and then U.S. secretary of state Condoleezza Rice were irritated by a Canadian briefing in 2010 ..."

Problem. Condoleezza Rice was NOT the US Secretary of State in 2010. She left office with George Bush in January of 2009.
Now, whether that original mistake is in one of the sources that Stewart is referring to, and he passed it along like a virus, or whether Stewart or somebody else made the error or typo, the overall argument is the same. Canada's military was far too small to pacify the insurgency in Kandahar and keep the province secure and Canadian politicians were too arrogant to accept this fact and ask for help.

Since I was just talking about Chris Alexander a couple of days ago, I'd like to point out his little cameo in Stewarts's report:
In his fascinating memoir, Cables From Kabul: The Inside Story of the West's Afghanistan Campaign, Britain's former Afghan ambassador Sherard Cowper-Coles marvels at Canada's cheery boosterism for the war.
He portrays Canada's top civilian on the scene, Chris Alexander, then a former ambassador and top UN official, now a Conservative MP and parliamentary secretary to the minister of defence, as being "among the most persuasive of the optimists, and in many ways the golden boy of the international effort in Afghanistan."
Interestingly, Cowper-Coles believes Alexander was too smart not to see the flaws in the war, but "like many able and ambitious Westerners involved in the project he saw no point in being anything other than optimistic."
Oh yeah, ... "ambitious." Alexander is clearly ambitious and he's clearly hoping to have a brilliant political career as a right-wing imbecile staggering from one bloody foreign policy disaster to another. Unfortunately for him, he's hitched himself to a falling star and in a couple of years he will be forever shamed by his association with the biggest pack of criminals and incompetents in Canadian political history. So sad! Christopher Alexander was clearly willing to let overwhelmed Canadian Forces personnel to suffer and die for no reason in Afghanistan, just so that he could impress his masters back home. Have fun in disgrace you piece-of-shit!

And that goes for all the turds who threw our money down a rat-hole in this bloody clusterfuck. Especially stephen harper, peter mackay and, let's not forget the stupid, pompous blowhard General Rick Hillier who recommended the CF for this impossible task in the first place.


Second up, ... I just couldn't resist typing a response to this editorial by Thomas Friedman. Friedman, to me, is a complete waste of time. He's either completely wrong about things or his observations are convoluted expressions of the obvious. But a Liberal blogger who I very much respect praised this essay while providing a quote that I found less than impressive as a sampler. Let's look at it, shall we?
When you have technologies that promote quick short-term responses and judgments, and when you have a generation that has grown used to short-term gratification -- but you have problems whose solutions require long, hard journeys, like today's global credit crisis or jobs shortage or the need to rebuild Arab countries from the ground up -- you have a real mismatch and leadership challenge. Virtually all leaders today have to ask their people to share burdens, not just benefits, and to both study harder and work smarter just to keep up. That requires extraordinary leadership that has to start with telling people the truth. 
Now, please understand; you will go through that entire Friedman editorial and you won't find a single solitary clue about any details of the "long, hard journeys" that are supposedly necessary to solve the global credit crisis or to assist the democratic forces in the Arab countries. This is because Friedman knows that a) the global credit crisis is very much the fault of policies very similar to his own stupid economic recommendations over the years, and b) because Friedman is very much opposed to democracy in the Arab countries and has advocated for politics that would keep it suppressed, and, therefore, any actual recommendations from him here would expose him for the charlatan that he is.

Friedman's target audience

Anyhow, Friedman imagines him as some sort of visionary about the impact of technology on civilization and so he's decided to spew about how the instant gratification provided by a lot of modern technology has made the masses in the industrialized democracies hunger for the same sort of instantaneous wish fulfilment from world politics.

Which is, of course, laughable bullshit. For instance, the critics of the war in Afghanistan didn't turn against it because [imagine a whining teenager's voice] "It's taking too long!!!" We opposed it because it was a bad idea from the start. Western imperialists inflicting slaughter and starvation to impose a puppet-government of marauding narco-gangsters on a people who are mostly of a different ethnic group is self-evidently stupid. Meanwhile, the people who did support it have supported it for over ten fucking years, failure after failure, and the same goes (give or take a year) for Iraq. And the mushy middle waited years and years before deciding that maybe a decade of failure might point to some underlying problems. So much for Friedman's empty blathering about the people's desire for instant gratification.

It's bullshit from start to finish with Friedman:

Virtually all leaders today have to ask their people to share burdens, not just benefits, and to both study harder and work smarter just to keep up. That requires extraordinary leadership that has to start with telling people the truth.

Yeah. And that's why the Wall Street banksters gave themselves bonuses with their bail-out money and why corporate profits are at all time highs while unemployment and underemployment are raging worse than ever? That's why wages have stagnated for almost forty years? Because for forty years, workers haven't been making sacrifices? What? And just what sacrifices has Thomas Friedman been making? What? 

Lastly, I'd like to give a tip o' my hat ...



... to Montreal Simon for bringing these two polls to my attention. This rise in the fortunes of the NDP is a mixed thing for me. First of all, I think it makes all the hapless failures who steered the NDP into obscurity think that their boring, centrist, sell-out bullshit has been vindicated, when really it was just the result of the implosion of the Liberal Party as a viable alternative to the dog-shit of stephen harper. 

"Hey! Michael Ignatieff! Did you provide effective opposition to stephen harper?"

"I did NOT!"


But, on a happier note, as I've long said, the mushy middle in Canadian politics is breaking down and not because of some sort of new mental fad among the population. This isn't something that die-hard Liberals can fix with slogans or persuasion of any kind. The understandable desire of people to have their cake and eat it too, to have a decent welfare state without a traumatic revolution is what made so many people vote Liberal for so long, and I'm starting to think that decades of neo-liberal failure, involving the very same "sacrifices" from working people that Thomas Friedman blithely imagines they have been hiding from, has started to impact on people's minds in a major way. They are opening up their eyes to the Left, sadly at the same time the failures of social democratic strategists are moving the party to the right.


12 comments:

Mogs said...

I can' do it but someone has to...

Here we go Arlo Guthrie vintage...
one two three four what am I fighting for don't ask me I don't give a damn next stop is Vietnam, five six seven eight open up the pearly gates...

Now just substitute Afghanistan for Vietnam...

And you got the picture...

thwap said...

That's right Mogs. And if we leave there'll be a bloodbath.

So we should stay and keep killing people to prevent a bloodbath.

The sick thing is, there was a possibility that the scum-bags could have gotten it right and made all us peaceniks eat crow.

Alas, they were true to form and the whole thing has been a monstrosity.

Owen Gray said...

We live in a world where people seek simple solutions to complex problems.

But the world was never simple. Anyone who believes it is will be disappointed.

thwap said...

Isn't it ironic though, that a clueless dolt like Friedman, who is clearly part of the problem, presumes to lecture about how the solutions are going to be long and difficult?

What a useless twit.

Mogs said...

Afghanistan has been a bloodbath since the days of Alexander the Great so who are we to stop it...

The great game the English said...

There are kids in Canada starving impoverished without decent water or food, um shouldn't we be looking in our own back yards before we peer over the neighbors fence?

Anyway that is how I was raised.

thwap said...

Mogs,

Well, Afghanistan became more of a bloodbath after 1979 when the USA armed the Mujaheddin against the Soviets.

And I don't mind helping out around the world, but 9/10ths of our spending went to killing and the other 1/10th was evidently wasted ...

http://www.thestar.com/news/world/article/1226412--canada-s-afghan-legacy-the-failure-at-dahla-dam

Mogs said...

Stephen...

Killing, looting, beating and cheating.

Killing in Afghanistan and Libya...

Looting by bailing out the banks...

Beating innocent people in Toronto G20...

Cheating election fraud...

That other than his well known temper tantrums is what he does best, ie he never grew up, bad, bad mom and dad?

thwap said...

Mogs,

I haven't heard anything untoward about his upbringing.

But did you ever see the movie "Zodiac" with Jake Gyllenhaal and Robert Downey Jr.

At one point, they interview the brother of the main suspect and he describes a completely normal family life and a brother who is a psychopathic monster.

Perhaps that's harper's story. Or, harper is the sort of psychopath who makes a winning CEO but he lacked the smarts for that so he became an errand boy for other CEO psychopaths.

Mogs said...

A "psychopathic monster" ouch you do see the truth...

Stephen is sick:)

thwap said...

Have you ever heard of him having an actual friend?

Mogs said...

Never, never ever...

Mogs said...

He has none...
Scary ain't it?

He beats them in submission...

Then they do what he wants.