Wednesday, May 25, 2011

No Pasaran.

Taliban gunmen have killed the head teacher of a girls' school near the Afghan capital after he ignored warnings to stop teaching girls, government officials have said. Khan Mohammad, the head of the Porak girls' school in Logar province, was shot dead near his home on Tuesday. Said Deen Mohammad Darwish, a spokesman for the Logar governor: "He was killed because he wanted to run the school."

Peter Bergen, author of The Longest War: The Enduring Conflict between America and Al Qaida, lays out nine reasons why notions of an "exit strategy" from Afghanistan based on reconciliation with the Taliban are based in fantasy, here. Any one of his reasons expose the folly of it. His understated summary: "Negotiations with religious fanatics who have delusions of grandeur generally do not go well."

There's only one way forward. Masood Aziz: "Injustice and the exercise of illegitimate power are now key reasons for a disaffected and disenchanted population. This is precisely where the Taliban find the space within which they thrive and where they seek and obtain support. Closing this gap by restoring a sense of justice and legitimacy will not only make the Taliban an irrelevant entity in Afghanistan, but will also serve as a model for Pakistan where their use as a geopolitical instrument of asymmetric warfare would no longer be viable or justifiable."

Friday, May 20, 2011

How To Succeed In The Literary Life.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

How Far The Rot Has Spread.

Alan Johnson's latest in World Affairs Journal:

'. . .This pro-tyrant left thinks it holds the key to the entire world in the palm of its hand. If America is opposed to a tyrant, then—there is some dubious logic here, but this really is the crucial move—the tyrant must be opposing America. And—this is the last stretch, stay with me—therefore the tyrant is an “anti-imperialist” and, objectively, “progressive.”

'And these ideas have been adopted in softer forms throughout the culture—we see it in the refusal of emotional commitment to the West in its battles against dictators and terrorists, the refusal to credit the West with anything but malign intent, the tendency to blame ourselves when we are attacked, the demonization of Israel, and the pathological refusal to see plain the nature of forces such as Hamas and Hezbollah, who were defined by the leading American academic Judith Butler as “part of the global Left”. . .'

Note that the James Petras that Alan cites is a senior contributor to the venerable Canadian Dimension magazine. If you don't think there aren't serious consequences involved, read this.

Or read this essay by Robins Simcox, on Amnesty International's sponsorship of Moazzam Begg and the fake human rights organization Cage Prisoners: "Begg is, at best, a veteran of the Bosnian jihad who has trained in Afghanistan and donated money to Al-Qaeda training camps. At worst, he is a former Al-Qaeda operative who fought in a war against the United States after 9/11. His former detention at Guantanamo does not now make him a champion of liberty. If his organization's writing snuff pieces about President Obama being assassinated does not wake up human rights groups to this, it is hard to know what will."

Monday, May 16, 2011

Can we stop pretending now?

Osama bin Laden a "martyr of Islam": The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI), Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) and the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) teamed up with the outlawed Jamaatud Dawa (JuD) on Sunday to declare slain al Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden the ‘martyr of Islam’ at the Istehkaam-e-Pakistan Caravan on The Mall.

The right-wing parties denounced the US interference in Pakistan’s affairs and held the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP)-led federal government responsible for the Abbottabad operation but avoided criticising the military and intelligence agencies’ failure. Speakers demanded canceling the strategic partnership with the US, stopping drone attacks in FATA, freeing the Shamsi Airbase from US forces, canceling visas of Americans and deporting US Ambassador to Pakistan Cameron Mentor for allegedly committing blasphemy.

Meanwhile, a major American network finally notices what Amrullah Saleh has been saying for years. CBS might have checked. It would have found that he'd told Al Jazeera the same thing two years ago.

Here's Canada's own Christopher Alexander explaining to an American audience why the United States should pay attention to Saleh.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Finally: Getting Serious About Libya.

It's a couple of months overdue, but very welcome news nonetheless.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Killing Rosa: Hohenzollern Germany's Last Triumph, Nazi Germany's First.

"Sonyichka, the hide of a buffalo is proverbial for its toughness and thickness, but this tough skin had been broken. During the unloading, all the animals stood there, quite still, exhausted, and the one that was bleeding kept staring into the empty space in front of him with an expression on his black face and in his soft, black eyes like an abused child. It was precisely the expression of a child that has been punished and doesn’t know why or what for, doesn’t know how to get away from this torment and raw violence … All this time the prisoners had hurriedly busied themselves around the wagon, unloading the heavy sacks and dragging them off into the building; but the soldier stuck both hands in his trouser pockets, paced around the courtyard with long strides, and kept smiling and softly whistling some popular tune to himself. And the entire marvelous panorama of the war passed before my eyes. . . "

- Rosa Luxemburg, Breslau Prison, December, 1917.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Fish & Bird In Memphis: Best Dang Canadian Music Around Is What.

And yes, that's my wee daughter Zozo on the old upright bass.


Sunday, May 08, 2011

To End The Blockade Tomorrow: Renounce Terror.

'Hamas is everything that self-professed liberals should be "prejudiced" toward: obscurantist, misogynistic, anti-Semitic, warlike and rejectionist. It calls for the death of homosexuals and bans dancing. Its charter beckons Muslims to hunt down Jews from "behind rocks and trees," claims that Muslims "have no escape from raising the banner of Jihad" and, in a prescient use of the rhetoric that has since united the radical Western left and the reactionary Islamic right, accused Jews of "Nazism." It picks fights with Israel that result in the needless deaths of Palestinian civilians. It could end the blockade in Gaza tomorrow if it wanted to, simply by laying down arms, renouncing terrorism and accepting Israel's right to exist - but no amount of Palestinian suffering will ever cause it to do so.'

- James Kirchick, in Haaretz.

I'm not sure the Hamas-Fatah pact is as portentious of ill tidings as he makes out. I think it's also more than reasonable to harbour doubts that it will last any longer than the previous peace pacts Hamas has signed with Fatah. There sure are a lot of useful eejits, mind.

Saturday, May 07, 2011

Our Beloved Johnny.

Friday, May 06, 2011

Of Angels, Ethnicity, And A City That Is Not Where You Would Imagine.

Marko Attila Hoare is a fellow-traveller, you could say. Of himself, he says: "I have been variously accused of being a neoconservative, Trotskyite and Croat nationalist and a supporter of Islamism and Western imperialism. Depending on how you define these terms, some or all of this may be accurate." Replace Croat nationalist with Zionist warmonger, pikey though I be, and I could make the same claim, and some or all of it, depending on how you define terms, would be just as accurate.

I draw Marko to the attention of the readers of this weblodge because he is way smart, and because reading this delightful and intriguing roundabout of an essay will do you good. That, and because it gives me a good excuse to post this lovely video, which will also do you good, even though it is a mere advertisement. If anyone knows the music, let me know:

Thursday, May 05, 2011

Arab Spring, Afghan Spring: No Pasaran.

More than 10,000 people gathered Thursday in Kabul to oppose reconciliation with the Taliban and the involvement of Pakistan in any peace deal, warning that it would be a betrayal of the Afghan people’s long fight against extremism. “The Taliban and Al Qaeda are terrorists,” said Amrullah Saleh, as he looked out across the crowd, many of them young people. “They have destroyed our lands and houses, dishonored our wives and families." Then he addressed Mr. Karzai: “You call them your brothers, this is oppression — to this nation; they are not our brothers,” a criticism of Mr. Karzai’s frequent reference to the Taliban not as enemies or terrorists but as “upset brothers” or “angry brothers.”

Crowds carrying green flags and wearing ribbons of the newly established National Movement gathered under a vast series of tented canopies in the capital days after the event was called on Monday – the same day that news broke that Osama bin Laden had been killed by US special forces in Pakistan. "Deal making" were dirty words to the crowd. Banners lining the tent said "We didn't vote for Karzai to make deals," and "Don't sacrifice justice for dealing." Speeches were interrupted several times by chants from the crowd of "Death to the Taliban. Death to the suicide bombers. Death to the Punjabis" – a reference to the demonstrators' view that the Taliban is under the control of Pakistan's spy service.

"I am not here to say I'm against peace. I am one voice out of millions of Afghans who are against terror," Saleh told his supporters. "This government and democracy are a result of your blood and sacrifice but there is a small group of jealous people who are making a deal (with the insurgents) and we will not allow them."

Meanwhile, read Michael Petrou, a comrade: "There was a time, in the 1930s, when the NDP’s forefathers in the CCF took a stand against fascism in Spain. That the NDP has abandoned its heritage and now seeks accommodation with those they once fought is its own shame. But the party’s current moral bankruptcy on foreign affairs doesn’t change the fact that the Left has a much nobler tradition."

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Andrew Potter On the Loss Of A Good Man.

"There is no stronger indictment of Canada’s political class than the treatment of Michael Ignatieff during the years from 2005 to 2011. Never has such a torrent of abuse been poured on any Canadian figure; never have the small-town and the small-minded been so united as they were in their joint attack on the son of George Ignatieff, the best Governor General we never had. His torment by the Tory gang of cynics and liars, egged on by party hangers-on and cheered, too often and by too many of us in the press, testifies to the ongoing suspicion Canadians have with leaders who exhibit a modicum of intelligence, accomplishment, and worldliness. . ."

Heartily approved. Read all of it. My extended-play, annotated interview with the guy who might have been Canada's prime minister is here.

Standpoint Of The Proletariat:

Standpoint of Canada's New Democratic Party, here.

Yoani Sánchez Awarded Freedom Prize, Cuba Forbids Her To Travel To Copenhagen

COPENHAGEN, DENMARK (May 4, 2011) – Cuban blogger Yoani Sánchez was denied permission by the Cuban government to travel to Denmark and collect the CEPOS Freedom Award—a $50,000 prize that she was granted by the independent Danish think tank, CEPOS—at the official award ceremony tomorrow night in Copenhagen. Sánchez, author of the world-renowned blog Generación Y and a speaker at the 2010 Oslo Freedom Forum, was nominated for the award by Human Rights Foundation president Thor Halvorssen, who will give the keynote speech at the ceremony in Copenhagen.

“The CEPOS Freedom Award is granted to individuals who demonstrate a principled and steadfast commitment to the values and ideas of individual freedom and basic human rights. Through her blog, which is available in 21 languages, Sánchez exposes the harsh reality of life for everyday Cubans,” said Halvorssen.

Sánchez’s outspoken criticism of the Cuban dictatorship earned her the 2008 Ortega y Gasset Prize for Journalism and the 2009 Maria Moors Cabot Prize. She was named one of Time magazine’s “100 Most Influential People in the World” in 2008, and was selected as a 2010 World Press Freedom Hero by the International Press Institute. On December 17, 2010, Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands awarded Sánchez the Prince Claus Fund Award for her role as a “leading figure in the use of social networking technologies to breach imposed frontiers in Cuba.” Sánchez was denied permission to be present at that ceremony.

“Cuba’s totalitarian dictatorship—with its billions of dollars, guns, secret police, soldiers, tanks, planes, and network of horrible prisons—is so afraid of being exposed that it must keep Yoani Sánchez trapped in Cuba rather than allowing her to speak her mind abroad. All she has are a few books, a blog, and an indomitable will to write about her experience and clamor for her individual rights. Ultimately, her ideas will win,” said Halvorssen.

HRF is an international nonpartisan organization devoted to defending human rights in the Americas. It centers its work on the twin concepts of freedom of self-determination and freedom from tyranny. These ideals include the belief that all human beings have the rights to speak freely, to associate with those of like mind, and to leave and enter their countries. Individuals in a free society must be accorded equal treatment and due process under law, and must have the opportunity to participate in the governments of their countries; HRF’s ideals likewise find expression in the conviction that all human beings have the right to be free from arbitrary detainment or exile and from interference and coercion in matters of conscience. HRF does not support nor condone violence. HRF’s International Council includes former prisoners of conscience Vladimir Bukovsky, Palden Gyatso, Václav Havel, Mutabar Tadjibaeva, Ramón J. Velásquez, Elie Wiesel, and Harry Wu.

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Watching Osama's Take-Down In Real Time.

The US Navy SEALs motto: "Ready to Lead, Ready to Follow, Never Quit." Go SEALs!