jump to navigation

PREDICTIONS FOR 2005 December 31, 2004

Posted by wmmbb in Category to be ascribed.
add a comment

If I recall last year I achieved a 50% result. Crean to go as opposition leader, and Howard to go- it should have been on and on – as prime minister. This, I know, amounts to cheating. Things this year are far less clear cut.

I do not envisage Howard as going this year. Many backbencher no hoppers consider they were elected on his shirt tails – which perhaps they were. I will be happily wrong by I am expecting that John Howard will be prime minister at the end of the year.

Latham’s position is less secure. It was not a good look for senior members of the party to desert him to the backbench. The question the ALP must decide is does Latham have what it takes, if not to return the party to power at the next election, but build the party for the longer term. In my opinion this is a big opportunity for the ALP to get its act together. So I am predicting that Latham will go as opposition leader. I am at a lost as to know who will replace him.

I am anticipating that Andrew Robb and Malcolm Turnbull will be promoted to Cabinet, on the basis that Howard will realize that some of the people there are not cutting the mustard. Following the family tradition Turnbull might be appointed Attorney-General. The promotion of Robb is more likely than Turnbull, and what post he could best fill I have not a clue.

Blair, because of weak opposition will be returned as the British prime minister, although he will obviously lose seats, and I not sure what the division in the Labor Party about Iraq will have. At the other end of the world, although not a certainty, the Maori vote will be significant, Helen Clarke will be re-elected.

The Iraqi elections will go ahead. Regardless of who gets the numbers, the main aim of the majority parties will be remove the Americans. Bush is mentally fixated so he will continue his Iraq policies, perhaps by the end of the year making things far worst than they are now.

Sometimes wishful thinking comes into these predictions. On this note, I forecast that we will all maintain our commitment to helping the tsunami victims, regardless of country of birth or social class.

Here is a long shot. David Hicks and the other inmates of Camp X-ray at Guantanamo Bay will be released, and then win their suit against the US Government.

PREDICTIONS FOR 2005 December 31, 2004

Posted by wmmbb in Uncategorized.
add a comment

If I recall last year I achieved a 50% result. Crean to go as opposition leader, and Howard to go- it should have been on and on – as prime minister. This, I know, amounts to cheating. Things this year are far less clear cut.

I do not envisage Howard as going this year. Many backbencher no hoppers consider they were elected on his shirt tails – which perhaps they were. I will be happily wrong by I am expecting that John Howard will be prime minister at the end of the year.

Latham’s position is less secure. It was not a good look for senior members of the party to desert him to the backbench. The question the ALP must decide is does Latham have what it takes, if not to return the party to power at the next election, but build the party for the longer term. In my opinion this is a big opportunity for the ALP to get its act together. So I am predicting that Latham will go as opposition leader. I am at a lost as to know who will replace him.

I am anticipating that Andrew Robb and Malcolm Turnbull will be promoted to Cabinet, on the basis that Howard will realize that some of the people there are not cutting the mustard. Following the family tradition Turnbull might be appointed Attorney-General. The promotion of Robb is more likely than Turnbull, and what post he could best fill I have not a clue.

Blair, because of weak opposition will be returned as the British prime minister, although he will obviously lose seats, and I not sure what the division in the Labor Party about Iraq will have. At the other end of the world, although not a certainty, the Maori vote will be significant, Helen Clarke will be re-elected.

The Iraqi elections will go ahead. Regardless of who gets the numbers, the main aim of the majority parties will be remove the Americans. Bush is mentally fixated so he will continue his Iraq policies, perhaps by the end of the year making things far worst than they are now.

Sometimes wishful thinking comes into these predictions. On this note, I forecast that we will all maintain our commitment to helping the tsunami victims, regardless of country of birth or social class.

Here is a long shot. David Hicks and the other inmates of Camp X-ray at Guantanamo Bay will be released, and then win their suit against the US Government.

PERSONAL REFLECTION ON THE TSUNAMI December 30, 2004

Posted by wmmbb in Blogging in general, Natural Environment.
add a comment

Several days ago, I hardly knew what a tsunamic was, let alone be able to imagine the consequences.

David Tiley’s reports on the Tsunami are also excellent and the photos are excellent. I recommend you check them out.Here is one reference for you.

Somehow money, important as it is probably, nonetheless does not seem enough. The crucial issue is the coordination of the rescue effort on the ground. According to the BBC reports, I heard overnight, the Indians are assisting the Sri Lankans, even though their coastal areas appears to be extensively affected.

PERSONAL REFLECTION ON THE TSUNAMI December 30, 2004

Posted by wmmbb in Uncategorized.
add a comment

Several days ago, I hardly knew what a tsunamic was, let alone be able to imagine the consequences.

David Tiley’s reports on the Tsunami are also excellent and the photos are excellent. I recommend you check them out.Here is one reference for you.

Somehow money, important as it is probably, nonetheless does not seem enough. The crucial issue is the coordination of the rescue effort on the ground. According to the BBC reports, I heard overnight, the Indians are assisting the Sri Lankans, even though their coastal areas appears to be extensively affected.

SUSAN SONTAG December 29, 2004

Posted by wmmbb in Category to be ascribed.
add a comment

I do not pretend to know anything at all about Susan Sontag, except we have her book, Illness As Metaphor, but I was struck by her stand on September 11 and the Invasion and Occupation of Iraq contained in this ABC report. I will quote in full, since I doubt I can find it otherwise:

Author and social critic Susan Sontag, one of the strongest voices of intellectual opposition to US policies after the September 11 attacks, has died at the age of 71. Sontag, who had suffered from leukemia for some time, died in a New York cancer hospital.

She was known for interests that ranged from French existentialist writers to ballet, photography and politics. She was the author of 17 books and was a lifelong human rights activist. Her work has been translated into more than 30 languages. Among her best-known works was a 1964 study of homosexual aesthetics called Notes on Camp.

Sontag was among the first to raise a dissenting voice after September 11, 2001, in a controversial New Yorker magazine essay arguing that talk of an “attack on civilisation” was “drivel”. She ignited a firestorm of criticism when she declared that the attacks were not a “cowardly attack” on civilisation but “an act undertaken as a consequence of specific American alliances and actions”. Sontag had since been an outspoken critic of US President George W Bush over his response to the September 11 attacks and particularly the US-led war in Iraq.

“I can confirm she passed away this morning,” a spokeswoman at New York’s Sloan Kettering hospital said but declined to give any more details.

Born in New York in 1933, Ms Sontag grew up in Arizona and Los Angeles before going to the University of Chicago, and later Harvard and Oxford. She wrote novels, non-fiction books, plays and film-scripts as well as essays for The New Yorker, Granta, the New York Review of Books and other literary titles.

A long-time opponent of war and a human rights activist, Sontag spent several years in Sarajevo and staged Beckett’s Waiting for Godot there under siege in the summer of 1993. From 1987 to 1989 she was president of the American Centre of PEN, an international writers’ organisation dedicated to freedom of expression. She led a number of campaigns on behalf of persecuted and imprisoned writers.

In 2003, she was awarded a peace prize in Germany and the Prince of Asturias Prize in Spain.

Earlier honours included the US National Book Award for her novel In America in 2000.

-Reuters

Nothing of her political criticism about contemporary events and political and other responses to them can be found in the obituaries of The New York Times. Here is an example. Funny that.

UPDATE: 30/12/2004

Keeping in mind the qualification above, you must read David Tiley’s review of Susan Sontag as Barista.

UPDATE: 07/01/2005

The New York Times and The Los Angeles Times overlooked Sontag’s lesbian relationships in their obituaries. Is this a critical issue or not? I have no idea.

SUSAN SONTAG December 29, 2004

Posted by wmmbb in Uncategorized.
add a comment

I do not pretend to know anything at all about Susan Sontag, except we have her book, Illness As Metaphor, but I was struck by her stand on September 11 and the Invasion and Occupation of Iraq contained in this ABC report. I will quote in full, since I doubt I can find it otherwise:

Author and social critic Susan Sontag, one of the strongest voices of intellectual opposition to US policies after the September 11 attacks, has died at the age of 71. Sontag, who had suffered from leukemia for some time, died in a New York cancer hospital.

She was known for interests that ranged from French existentialist writers to ballet, photography and politics. She was the author of 17 books and was a lifelong human rights activist. Her work has been translated into more than 30 languages. Among her best-known works was a 1964 study of homosexual aesthetics called Notes on Camp.

Sontag was among the first to raise a dissenting voice after September 11, 2001, in a controversial New Yorker magazine essay arguing that talk of an “attack on civilisation” was “drivel”. She ignited a firestorm of criticism when she declared that the attacks were not a “cowardly attack” on civilisation but “an act undertaken as a consequence of specific American alliances and actions”. Sontag had since been an outspoken critic of US President George W Bush over his response to the September 11 attacks and particularly the US-led war in Iraq.

“I can confirm she passed away this morning,” a spokeswoman at New York’s Sloan Kettering hospital said but declined to give any more details.

Born in New York in 1933, Ms Sontag grew up in Arizona and Los Angeles before going to the University of Chicago, and later Harvard and Oxford. She wrote novels, non-fiction books, plays and film-scripts as well as essays for The New Yorker, Granta, the New York Review of Books and other literary titles.

A long-time opponent of war and a human rights activist, Sontag spent several years in Sarajevo and staged Beckett’s Waiting for Godot there under siege in the summer of 1993. From 1987 to 1989 she was president of the American Centre of PEN, an international writers’ organisation dedicated to freedom of expression. She led a number of campaigns on behalf of persecuted and imprisoned writers.

In 2003, she was awarded a peace prize in Germany and the Prince of Asturias Prize in Spain.

Earlier honours included the US National Book Award for her novel In America in 2000.

-Reuters

Nothing of her political criticism about contemporary events and political and other responses to them can be found in the obituaries of The New York Times. Here is an example. Funny that.

UPDATE: 30/12/2004

Keeping in mind the qualification above, you must read David Tiley’s review of Susan Sontag as Barista.

UPDATE: 07/01/2005



The New York Times and The Los Angeles Times overlooked Sontag’s lesbian relationships in their obituaries. Is this a critical issue or not? I have no idea.

TSUNAMI WARNING December 28, 2004

Posted by wmmbb in Natural Environment.
add a comment

I was puzzled by the general lack of warning of the Tsunami that devastated countries to our immediate north. The explanation, as far as I can tell, is that after the triggering event, in this case an underwater earthquake measured at almost 9 on the 10 point Richter Scale, the waves travel at a speed of a jumbo jet with a wavelength of up to 100 km, and build up to wave heights of 10, 20 and 30 metres when they enter the shallow water along coastlines.

Further information is contained here and here.

One has to assume that the ability to forecast underwater earthquakes is severely limited.

Such are the dimensions of this tragedy that it defies my imagination.

Since several countries are involved, coordination of the relief and assistance will be essential.

UPDATE: 28/12/2004

There are international warning systems, but India and Sri Lanka among the countires affected, were not part of the international system, according to this report.

More information explaining the lack of early warning systems is suggested in this Reuters report published by the NZ Herald.

UPDATE: 02/01/2005

This article, in The Independent, by the UK government’s chief scientific adviser is worth reading. Warning systems are necessary:

In the Pacific, as we were reminded last week, early warning communication cascade systems were brought into operation following earthquakes in Chile in 1960 and in Alaska in 1964, and this has markedly reduced the number of deaths as a result of tsunamis. The procedure is not complicated. It doesn’t need to be. Emergency managers are deputed to pass word to coastal communities to move inland and climb to a certain height above sea level. Similarly in Bangladesh, the impact of cyclones has been reduced simply by government employees on bicycles blowing whistles to send people to shelters. What is important is that there is a system.

In the case of the Sumatran earthquake, though, there was no system. Geophysicists did pick up the signals from the quake and rapidly locate it, determine its magnitude and estimate its impacts, but those who made frantic attempts to communicate with authorities achieved little. And nobody can pretend that the world was well prepared for what happened last weekend when those responsible for monitoring volcanic activity in the Pacific – who had picked up the rumblings from the Indian Ocean – could excuse themselves so blithely. One told Radio 4 that it was “not my job” to pass on word of what he had picked up, incredulous that anyone should think it might have been. It probably wasn’t his job, but it should have been someone’s. Reports that an Indian Ocean system are to be developed are obviously welcome.

UPDATE: 02/01/2005

The NZ Herald seems to be following up on the story relating to the lack of warning. It reports that Indian Newspapers are now on the case.

The human tragedy, made up of many individual tragedies, is beyond my comprhension or imagination to deal with. Regardless, let me remember, it is very real.

UPDATE: 16 January 2005

There is, according to this report in The Independent, evidence of a stuff up:

Scientists at the Tsunami Warning Centre in Hawaii – who have complained about being unable to find telephone numbers to alert the countries in peril – did not use an existing rapid telecommunications system set up to get warnings around the world almost instantly because the bureaucratic arrangements were not in place.

Still the thinking of the Indian Ocean governments seems to me to have been wrong-headed. Surely, if an event has a probability, given the geological circumstances of the area, and given that it has not occurred for 100 years, surely that makes some form of event, and the need for early warning, more likely, not less likely. Nobody can ride on luck for ever. But I suppose that depends on the assigned probability.

TSUNAMI WARNING December 28, 2004

Posted by wmmbb in Uncategorized.
add a comment

I was puzzled by the general lack of warning of the Tsunami that devastated countries to our immediate north. The explanation, as far as I can tell, is that after the triggering event, in this case an underwater earthquake measured at almost 9 on the 10 point Richter Scale, the waves travel at a speed of a jumbo jet with a wavelength of up to 100 km, and build up to wave heights of 10, 20 and 30 metres when they enter the shallow water along coastlines.

Further information is contained here and here.

One has to assume that the ability to forecast underwater earthquakes is severely limited.

Such are the dimensions of this tragedy that it defies my imagination.

Since several countries are involved, coordination of the relief and assistance will be essential.

UPDATE: 28/12/2004

There are international warning systems, but India and Sri Lanka among the countires affected, were not part of the international system, according to this report.

More information explaining the lack of early warning systems is suggested in this Reuters report published by the NZ Herald.

UPDATE: 02/01/2005

This article, in The Independent, by the UK government’s chief scientific adviser is worth reading. Warning systems are necessary:

In the Pacific, as we were reminded last week, early warning communication cascade systems were brought into operation following earthquakes in Chile in 1960 and in Alaska in 1964, and this has markedly reduced the number of deaths as a result of tsunamis. The procedure is not complicated. It doesn’t need to be. Emergency managers are deputed to pass word to coastal communities to move inland and climb to a certain height above sea level. Similarly in Bangladesh, the impact of cyclones has been reduced simply by government employees on bicycles blowing whistles to send people to shelters. What is important is that there is a system.

In the case of the Sumatran earthquake, though, there was no system. Geophysicists did pick up the signals from the quake and rapidly locate it, determine its magnitude and estimate its impacts, but those who made frantic attempts to communicate with authorities achieved little. And nobody can pretend that the world was well prepared for what happened last weekend when those responsible for monitoring volcanic activity in the Pacific – who had picked up the rumblings from the Indian Ocean – could excuse themselves so blithely. One told Radio 4 that it was “not my job” to pass on word of what he had picked up, incredulous that anyone should think it might have been. It probably wasn’t his job, but it should have been someone’s. Reports that an Indian Ocean system are to be developed are obviously welcome.

UPDATE: 02/01/2005

The NZ Herald seems to be following up on the story relating to the lack of warning. It reports that Indian Newspapers are now on the case.

The human tragedy, made up of many individual tragedies, is beyond my comprhension or imagination to deal with. Regardless, let me remember, it is very real.

UPDATE: 16 January 2005

There is, according to this report in The Independent, evidence of a stuff up:

Scientists at the Tsunami Warning Centre in Hawaii – who have complained about being unable to find telephone numbers to alert the countries in peril – did not use an existing rapid telecommunications system set up to get warnings around the world almost instantly because the bureaucratic arrangements were not in place.

Still the thinking of the Indian Ocean governments seems to me to have been wrong-headed. Surely, if an event has a probability, given the geological circumstances of the area, and given that it has not occurred for 100 years, surely that makes some form of event, and the need for early warning, more likely, not less likely. Nobody can ride on luck for ever. But I suppose that depends on the assigned probability.

BUSH A GIANT AMONG LEADERS? December 27, 2004

Posted by wmmbb in Modern History.
add a comment


The 39th President of the US of A. Posted by Hello

Can historians provide insight into current circumstances by identifying parallels with the past? Martin Gibert, a leading British historian, contends that Bush and Blair may one day to be seen in a similar light to Roosevelt and Churchill. Personally I doubt the case is convincingly made here.

Past leaders, despite historians tearing away at their feet of clay always appear to be larger than the current models. This is a misconception, Gibert declares. And we do not have the behind the scenes information that set the stage for the decision making of current leaders. However, despite the limitations, parallels can be drawn between events and responses then and now.

Blair like Churchill had to struggle to overcome doubters. In the case of Blair the doubters continue to doubt. Bush, following September 11 and phoney intelligence had the support of Congress but Roosevelt did not. While Gilbert does not quite state the truth. Germany was a clear and present danger to Britain, and Japan threatened the US. Before the invasion Iraq was a threat to no one. To seriously compare Hussein and Hitler is laughable, the eminence of the writer notwithstanding.

Bush and Blair have, like all leaders, the obligation to explain the setbacks, normal to any military endeavour. Bush seems less able, as Gilbert often uncomfortable with words that others have written. Unlike their illustrious predecessors Bush and Blair, “conduct war in partisan terms, ensuring a vociferous opposition.

“Stalin and Soviet Communism are supposed to be in a way totally obscure to me equivalent to the opposition of Muslim fundamentalism.

Blair is a great supporter of Bush, as he was of Clinton, and as he would have been of Kerry. I do not fully understand the British Government’s policy here, but it is evident that it is not acting as an equal, but as a follower and hoping to influence American policy. Gilbert, displaying, I believe nostalgia for the presumed Anglo-American world post Second World War, but which in fact represents the American Ascendancy, presumes that the Anglo-American alliance carries ” a hidden wealth of allied co-operation on the future.” To make such assumptions is not to notice that the world has changed, and to ignore other players – the United Nations, the Europeans, not to mention the “coming powers” of China and India.

The Atlantic Charter is an interesting historical document, about common heritage and common purpose, and its principles were precursory to setting up the UN Charter. Gilbert ignores the neo-conservative doctrine of unilateralism, of which I notice we hear less and less.

“A final parallel is most striking.” Churchill has presaged a two-state solution, which the Bush-Blair tag team will take over, and which due to a failure of Arab leadership was responsible for six decades of war. Personally, I think the two state solution is no solution at all. An apartheid Israel is as unacceptable in the modern world, and given the diversity long existent in the Middle East, as an apartheid Palestine.

The weakness of these parallels is evident, despite the admissions whenever Bush is mentioned.This is a nostaglic Anglo-centric view. Blair might be compared to Churchill, although during Britains “greatest hour”, Churchill was a politician of far greater experience than Blair, including the experience of war, but even on the argument presented here, Bush cannot be compared to Roosevelt. Every time he mentions Bush he is forced to qualify his judgement. Despite Roosevelt’s evident superiority in intelligence, eloquence and political skill, Bush does not have the equal of an Eleanor Roosevelt on his team.

The photos are of the FDR Memorial Site, located in virtual space here.

UPDATE: 28/11/2004

Other parallels can be drawn, such as that between the Russian invasion of Afghanistan and the American invasion of Iraq. Should this parallel be closer to the mark, as perhaps it might be, it will be less faltering to George Bush and his steadfast ally Tony Blair.

UNREFLECTIVE LANGUAGE December 25, 2004

Posted by wmmbb in Duckspeak, Iraq, Modern History.
add a comment


“A Shattered City awaits refugees returning to Falluja. Posted by Hello

Let me concede, that if your mates were indiscriminately killed by suicide bomb or by mortar fire, either way horrific in human terms, and especially if they were the sort of people reconstructing the country rather than suppressing the nationalistic resistance, it would be understandable to be angry and wish to hit out. But, I suppose, trained soldiers do not do that, and when this has happened in the past, as it has in always every army, war crimes have been committed. The cool judgment of hindsight, and therefore of trained foresight, is understandable, but not acceptable. The victims of anger are often the innocent, or simply soldiers in an opposing cause.

And yet the unreflective nature of the language of this American officer suggests a mind taken over with self justification, with ideology and not thought. It is as if to kill people is of no consequences. Here are the statements from the ABC report:

“The current Mosul situation is best described as tense,” Lieutenant Colonel Paul Hastings told AFP on Thursday.

“Soldiers are maintaining an offensive mindset. The mission has not changed. We continue to conduct operations to kill or capture those trying to disrupt progress in Iraq. These operations have been very successful.”

The US military has appointed Brigadier General Richard Formica to investigate the suicide bombing of the military mess hall that killed 22 people – the deadliest attack ever against Americans in Iraq.

The offensive mindset gives precedence to killing not capturing people, raising the question as to what gives the right to behave in this way. If, for example, it is a god-given right – at least one possibility – we have a clash of civilizations, or more exactly a religious war here. Of course, I presume, there is not such construct, as an American-given right in this context.

Meanwhile, some residents of Falluja are allowed back. The BBC has a first-hand account here. To come back to find that the flesh of your relative has been eaten by a hungry dog, must be among the most “successful” coup of all time, from the land of PR. But in war, the rule is that the most successful PR is to hide the evidence.

As I recall, Mao observed that “power comes out of the barrel of a gun”. In the short term, may be.

Picture from the BBC.

UNREFLECTIVE LANGUAGE December 25, 2004

Posted by wmmbb in Uncategorized.
add a comment



“A Shattered City awaits refugees returning to Falluja. Posted by Hello

Let me concede, that if your mates were indiscriminately killed by suicide bomb or by mortar fire, either way horrific in human terms, and especially if they were the sort of people reconstructing the country rather than suppressing the nationalistic resistance, it would be understandable to be angry and wish to hit out. But, I suppose, trained soldiers do not do that, and when this has happened in the past, as it has in always every army, war crimes have been committed. The cool judgment of hindsight, and therefore of trained foresight, is understandable, but not acceptable. The victims of anger are often the innocent, or simply soldiers in an opposing cause.

And yet the unreflective nature of the language of this American officer suggests a mind taken over with self justification, with ideology and not thought. It is as if to kill people is of no consequences. Here are the statements from the ABC report:

“The current Mosul situation is best described as tense,” Lieutenant Colonel Paul Hastings told AFP on Thursday.

“Soldiers are maintaining an offensive mindset. The mission has not changed. We continue to conduct operations to kill or capture those trying to disrupt progress in Iraq. These operations have been very successful.”

The US military has appointed Brigadier General Richard Formica to investigate the suicide bombing of the military mess hall that killed 22 people – the deadliest attack ever against Americans in Iraq.

The offensive mindset gives precedence to killing not capturing people, raising the question as to what gives the right to behave in this way. If, for example, it is a god-given right – at least one possibility – we have a clash of civilizations, or more exactly a religious war here. Of course, I presume, there is not such construct, as an American-given right in this context.

Meanwhile, some residents of Falluja are allowed back. The BBC has a first-hand account here. To come back to find that the flesh of your relative has been eaten by a hungry dog, must be among the most “successful” coup of all time, from the land of PR. But in war, the rule is that the most successful PR is to hide the evidence.

As I recall, Mao observed that “power comes out of the barrel of a gun”. In the short term, may be.

Picture from the BBC.

IRAQI IMBOGLIO December 23, 2004

Posted by wmmbb in Iraq Policy.
add a comment

The question arises as to just who the resistance fighters in Iraq are. They are called by various other names – fighters, guerrillas, and terrorists. Nationalist resistance movements have always been called terrorists, especially by colonialist powers. The Mau Mau in Kenya is one example. And yet successful movements have always had support among the people.

Juan Cole gives his opinion:

. . . I don’t think the shrine city bombing were done by “Wahhabis.” I think they were the work of Baathists, and I think most of the violence in Iraq has all along been by the Baathists, along with a few radical Sunni Arab groups.

The follow up question might be who are the Baathists? An easy question with no straight-forward answer. Nevertheless there appears to be a strong connection with the disbanded Iraqi army.

The claim that the depopulation and demolition of much of Falluja who destroy the command and control apparatus of much of the resistance appears to be have been either misguided or deluded given the recent bombing outside of Mosul. Now it is a war of tit for tat, of retaliation. It has to be seen how the sealing off of Mosul will be, especially following on from the earlier experience in Falluja.

There are many costs to this conflict. The immediate one is that democracy is not likely anytime soon in Iraq, as long as that democracy has any direct or indirect association with George Bush. Then there are the direct and indirect costs of retaining the various occupation forces, of which the US, for which the NYT bewails the fact, and the UK carry the burden.

For the fools that rushed in, there seems to be no way out, because national honor has to be preserved. Perhaps the decline in the reputation of the brand name of the USA due to the several torture scandals will make withdrawal from ignonmy less of a problem.

UPDATE: 23/12/2004

Kevin Drum deals with the issue of the removing American forces from Iraq here.

The elections do need to be postponed in my opinion. Then I think there needs to be political negotiations with the main players, including if possible the resistance fighters, and some broad agreement as to how peace and stability is to be maintained. Regardless of it inadequacies, the United Nations often does these things, including, for example,oversighting the non-interference of neighbouring countries during the transition, better than any other organization

IRAQI IMBOGLIO December 23, 2004

Posted by wmmbb in Uncategorized.
add a comment

The question arises as to just who the resistance fighters in Iraq are. They are called by various other names – fighters, guerrillas, and terrorists. Nationalist resistance movements have always been called terrorists, especially by colonialist powers. The Mau Mau in Kenya is one example. And yet successful movements have always had support among the people.

Juan Cole gives his opinion:

. . . I don’t think the shrine city bombing were done by “Wahhabis.” I think they were the work of Baathists, and I think most of the violence in Iraq has all along been by the Baathists, along with a few radical Sunni Arab groups.

The follow up question might be who are the Baathists? An easy question with no straight-forward answer. Nevertheless there appears to be a strong connection with the disbanded Iraqi army.

The claim that the depopulation and demolition of much of Falluja who destroy the command and control apparatus of much of the resistance appears to be have been either misguided or deluded given the recent bombing outside of Mosul. Now it is a war of tit for tat, of retaliation. It has to be seen how the sealing off of Mosul will be, especially following on from the earlier experience in Falluja.

There are many costs to this conflict. The immediate one is that democracy is not likely anytime soon in Iraq, as long as that democracy has any direct or indirect association with George Bush. Then there are the direct and indirect costs of retaining the various occupation forces, of which the US, for which the NYT bewails the fact, and the UK carry the burden.

For the fools that rushed in, there seems to be no way out, because national honor has to be preserved. Perhaps the decline in the reputation of the brand name of the USA due to the several torture scandals will make withdrawal from ignonmy less of a problem.

UPDATE: 23/12/2004



Kevin Drum deals with the issue of the removing American forces from Iraq here.



The elections do need to be postponed in my opinion. Then I think there needs to be political negotiations with the main players, including if possible the resistance fighters, and some broad agreement as to how peace and stability is to be maintained. Regardless of it inadequacies, the United Nations often does these things, including, for example,oversighting the non-interference of neighbouring countries during the transition, better than any other organization

A VIP – BET HE DOESN’T KNOW IT! December 21, 2004

Posted by wmmbb in Human Rights, Terrorism Issues.
add a comment

This sentence, as a stand alone, struck me as absurd. As reported by the ABC, a request through the Freedom of Information Act to the Department of Immigration (sic) for the reasons why David Hicks, now residence at Guantanamo Bay, was not given the consular assistance normal for Australian citizens was rejected by the Administrative Appeals Tribunal. The result of the application:

The court ruled the move could damage international relations, outweighing public interest.

I would doubt our relations with the current Government of Afghanistan will be permanently damaged, since, according to reports, Mr Hicks was engaged in some fashion (perhaps an independent contractor)with a previous Afghan Government engaged then in a civil war with dissent groups and regional interests, which have not perhaps disappeared.

The decision smacks of an excuse covering for Governmental negligence. But perhaps the AAT provided a detailed set of arguments for the conclusion. Subsequent refusal by the Federal Government to protect Hicks interests suggests neglignence or complicity. As I have written, a person accused of murder in NSW would recieve more protection of natural justice and legal procedure than that given to Hicks.

Then there are the allegations of torture. There is an update by Kevin Drum here.

FURTHER INFORMATION: 22/12/2004

There is even more reason to be critical of the Attorney-General, although I trust not of his department. We are, I presume, signatories to the UN CONVENTION AGAINST TORTURE and Other Cruel, Inhuman or DegradingTreatment or Punishment. Acknowledgement to The Road to Surfdom to Southerly Bluster for the information.

Perhaps the war of terror has made the risk of damage to international relations, outweigh any considerations to the human rights of Australian citizens.

The full decision of the AAT is set out here. The relevant extract is I think the following relating to the necessary specificity of the decision :

There is evidence before me that release of this information could reasonably be expected to cause damage to the international relations of the Commonwealth with the United States Government. The evidence that disclosure could cause damage to Australia’s international relations is rational – it is based on reason, or reasonable. The evidence is credible.

FURTHER UPDATE: 22/12/2004

The ABC reports that A/G Ruddock now wants the torture claims to be investigated, and now we presume without prejuice or damage to our international relations with the United States.

A VIP – BET HE DOESN’T KNOW IT! December 21, 2004

Posted by wmmbb in Uncategorized.
add a comment

This sentence, as a stand alone, struck me as absurd. As reported by the ABC, a request through the Freedom of Information Act to the Department of Immigration (sic) for the reasons why David Hicks, now residence at Guantanamo Bay, was not given the consular assistance normal for Australian citizens was rejected by the Administrative Appeals Tribunal. The result of the application:

The court ruled the move could damage international relations, outweighing public interest.

I would doubt our relations with the current Government of Afghanistan will be permanently damaged, since, according to reports, Mr Hicks was engaged in some fashion (perhaps an independent contractor)with a previous Afghan Government engaged then in a civil war with dissent groups and regional interests, which have not perhaps disappeared.

The decision smacks of an excuse covering for Governmental negligence. But perhaps the AAT provided a detailed set of arguments for the conclusion. Subsequent refusal by the Federal Government to protect Hicks interests suggests neglignence or complicity. As I have written, a person accused of murder in NSW would recieve more protection of natural justice and legal procedure than that given to Hicks.

Then there are the allegations of torture. There is an update by Kevin Drum here.

FURTHER INFORMATION: 22/12/2004

There is even more reason to be critical of the Attorney-General, although I trust not of his department. We are, I presume, signatories to the UN CONVENTION AGAINST TORTURE and Other Cruel, Inhuman or DegradingTreatment or Punishment. Acknowledgement to The Road to Surfdom to Southerly Bluster for the information.

Perhaps the war of terror has made the risk of damage to international relations, outweigh any considerations to the human rights of Australian citizens.

The full decision of the AAT is set out here. The relevant extract is I think the following relating to the necessary specificity of the decision :

There is evidence before me that release of this information could reasonably be expected to cause damage to the international relations of the Commonwealth with the United States Government. The evidence that disclosure could cause damage to Australia’s international relations is rational – it is based on reason, or reasonable. The evidence is credible.

FURTHER UPDATE: 22/12/2004



The ABC reports that A/G Ruddock now wants the torture claims to be investigated, and now we presume without prejuice or damage to our international relations with the United States.

SOME THOUGHTS December 19, 2004

Posted by wmmbb in Blogging in general.
add a comment

One value of blogging is that it provides the opportunity to follow up on stories, and admit I was wrong – but I do not remember doing that much. Blogger can be a pain, but it has resources to aid composition, and I should be using those resources.

The contrast of follow-up of stories is with the newspapers. Stories build, reach a crescendo, and then fall off the page. There are many examples. Then there are those stories that do not make the papers, or from which they have decided to avert there gaze, with rare exceptions. There is, for example, the now long standing “tragedy” of Aboriginal well being, which seems persistent not for the lack of trying, intelligence or money. We probably still do not understand what we do when destroy a peoples culture, and the modern world has little tolerance for people’s soul of being, although Christmas is replete with pagan and commercial themes.

Falluja is a spectacular example of a story falling off the page. I do no remember reading too many stories about what has happened to the 300,000 people who used to inhabit the city, nor outrage that injured people were denied medical attention. The Independent reports that bombing has not stopped in Falluja.

As US generals were issuing triumphant claims of victory in Fallujah, with a population of 300,000, last month they lost control of Mosul, 250 miles to the north, with a population of 1.2 million. The unexpected insurgent uprising on 10 November, which led to the disintegration of the 8,000-strong police force, was clearly planned to take advantage of the US assault on Fallujah on 8 November.

In the most militant cities there is no sign of insurgent activity diminishing: Every day there are attacks on US and interim government forces in Baiji, Baquba, Ramadi, Samarra and Tal Afar. Fallujah itself is far from subdued. Ayham al-Samarrai, the minister of electricity, told The Independent on Sunday that it would be difficult to hold fair elections in provinces with a total population of eight million – a third of the Iraqi population.

Most serious of all is the situation in Baghdad. US military briefings give the impression that Fallujah has been the heart of the uprising since the invasion. In reality the deadliest location for a US soldier in Iraq is Baghdad, where 240 US troops have been killed since March last year, more than twice as many as in Fallujah. It is the capital that may witness the most violence as the election gets closer.

No imperialist invader has ever considered that the people who are opposed to them are nationalists, with a significant proportion of secularists. Should this not be true it would be a tragedy for Iraq.

The disgrace of Guantanamo Bay continues. You might reasonably have to take precautions if somebody says they are going to blow up the Empire State Building, and you know that they have the intent, the knowledge and the means to do it. I would be clearly disqualified on these grounds at least, and I presume for such a person an injunction could be sought from the courts. Two British inmates described as mentally ill were moved out of solitary confinement after protests from the British Foreign Office. That shows you, I suggest, what is wrong with that system of illegal confinement, despite the availability of doctors and psychologists, whose job it is to aid effectively in the torture of prisoners.

But on a more positive note, I at least discovered why my forebears and so many others were in a rush to leave Britain and take there chances in faraway lands. The agricultural depression was the underlying condition.

SOME THOUGHTS December 19, 2004

Posted by wmmbb in Uncategorized.
add a comment

One value of blogging is that it provides the opportunity to follow up on stories, and admit I was wrong – but I do not remember doing that much. Blogger can be a pain, but it has resources to aid composition, and I should be using those resources.

The contrast of follow-up of stories is with the newspapers. Stories build, reach a crescendo, and then fall off the page. There are many examples. Then there are those stories that do not make the papers, or from which they have decided to avert there gaze, with rare exceptions. There is, for example, the now long standing “tragedy” of Aboriginal well being, which seems persistent not for the lack of trying, intelligence or money. We probably still do not understand what we do when destroy a peoples culture, and the modern world has little tolerance for people’s soul of being, although Christmas is replete with pagan and commercial themes.

Falluja is a spectacular example of a story falling off the page. I do no remember reading too many stories about what has happened to the 300,000 people who used to inhabit the city, nor outrage that injured people were denied medical attention. The Independent reports that bombing has not stopped in Falluja.

As US generals were issuing triumphant claims of victory in Fallujah, with a population of 300,000, last month they lost control of Mosul, 250 miles to the north, with a population of 1.2 million. The unexpected insurgent uprising on 10 November, which led to the disintegration of the 8,000-strong police force, was clearly planned to take advantage of the US assault on Fallujah on 8 November.

In the most militant cities there is no sign of insurgent activity diminishing: Every day there are attacks on US and interim government forces in Baiji, Baquba, Ramadi, Samarra and Tal Afar. Fallujah itself is far from subdued. Ayham al-Samarrai, the minister of electricity, told The Independent on Sunday that it would be difficult to hold fair elections in provinces with a total population of eight million – a third of the Iraqi population.

Most serious of all is the situation in Baghdad. US military briefings give the impression that Fallujah has been the heart of the uprising since the invasion. In reality the deadliest location for a US soldier in Iraq is Baghdad, where 240 US troops have been killed since March last year, more than twice as many as in Fallujah. It is the capital that may witness the most violence as the election gets closer.

No imperialist invader has ever considered that the people who are opposed to them are nationalists, with a significant proportion of secularists. Should this not be true it would be a tragedy for Iraq.

The disgrace of Guantanamo Bay continues. You might reasonably have to take precautions if somebody says they are going to blow up the Empire State Building, and you know that they have the intent, the knowledge and the means to do it. I would be clearly disqualified on these grounds at least, and I presume for such a person an injunction could be sought from the courts. Two British inmates described as mentally ill were moved out of solitary confinement after protests from the British Foreign Office. That shows you, I suggest, what is wrong with that system of illegal confinement, despite the availability of doctors and psychologists, whose job it is to aid effectively in the torture of prisoners.

But on a more positive note, I at least discovered why my forebears and so many others were in a rush to leave Britain and take there chances in faraway lands. The agricultural depression was the underlying condition.

NEW YEAR RESOLUTIONS December 19, 2004

Posted by wmmbb in Blogging in general.
add a comment

As per the SMH 2005 calendar, Mr Curly of Curly Flats has declared his new year resolutions. They are resolutions to warm the coldest heart, and apposite to this location in time-space continuum. Mr Curly’s resolution are as follows:

  • 1. I shall think more about ducks.
  • 2. I shall whistle more and do more of my bird calls.
  • 3. I shall have more afternoon naps.
  • 4. Umm . . .that is about all I can think of at the moment.
  • 5. Oh yes . . .I’ve just remembered,I will finish composing my mandolin concerto called, “The Duck Concerto”.
  • 6. . . .and maybe something about butterflies.

There is more to be had, as there are more months in the year other that January. Here is one source, if some background is required. Mr Curly has got something to do with the fact that he is not straight, or is more generally eccentric. Genius is an eccentricity, even though eccentricity may not be genius. (But, I suppose, if harnessed, collective and individual eccentricity, or more generally difference, may work as genius. This may not be it, there is a case for toleration.)

NEW YEAR RESOLUTIONS December 19, 2004

Posted by wmmbb in Uncategorized.
add a comment

As per the SMH 2005 calendar, Mr Curly of Curly Flats has declared his new year resolutions. They are resolutions to warm the coldest heart, and apposite to this location in time-space continuum. Mr Curly’s resolution are as follows:

  • 1. I shall think more about ducks.
  • 2. I shall whistle more and do more of my bird calls.
  • 3. I shall have more afternoon naps.
  • 4. Umm . . .that is about all I can think of at the moment.
  • 5. Oh yes . . .I’ve just remembered,I will finish composing my mandolin concerto called, “The Duck Concerto”.
  • 6. . . .and maybe something about butterflies.

There is more to be had, as there are more months in the year other that January. Here is one source, if some background is required. Mr Curly has got something to do with the fact that he is not straight, or is more generally eccentric. Genius is an eccentricity, even though eccentricity may not be genius. (But, I suppose, if harnessed, collective and individual eccentricity, or more generally difference, may work as genius. This may not be it, there is a case for toleration.)

THANKSGIVING DAY December 16, 2004

Posted by wmmbb in European Politics.
add a comment

The EU is on the theshold of a momentous decision as to whether Turkey will be accepted as a full member. I understand this decision will be made by the EU members from today or tomorrow.

In the normal run of events Turkey’s membership was always to be intriquing. For example, Turkey has a population in the order of 70 million, most of whom live in the 97% of the non-European portion of the country, and most of whom are muslim. The EU would then have borders with Iraq, Armenia and southern Russia. Then there is the question of the recognition of Greek Cyprus. And there are other issues as well.

Most of the discussion I am reading is about the problems, relativley little about the mutual economic gains, that Turkey’s membership means. Turkey’s full membership of the EU has become a political and religious issue for the existing EU members as much as for Turkey, and only secondarily a question of mutual economic advantage. The issue here is the integration of a Islamic country into a Christian economic union, perhpas the dilution of the idea of Europe, even with reference to the defence of Vienna against the Turkish armies, with the alleged failure of Muslims to integrate into Western European societies, in particular recent events in France and the Netherlands, which have taken place in the context of September 11.

Yet the it is more significant that Turkey has developed a secular and democratic society. Since the days of Kemal Ataturk it has engaged with wholesale modernization, but under the pressure of recent days not at the expense of its cultural identity. As Peter Fray observed in his recent article in The SMH, Turkey was “once better known for the torture of its prisioners and the undue political influence of its generals”. The army with 600,000 is one of the largest in the EU, and I suspect that the army, and by analogy with the Communist Party in China, was the agency of modernization. Agencies of modernization are almost never religious bodies, although it could be suggested that the Church of England played that role in the 15th and 16th centuries.

I suspect that fundamenalism in all its many vocations is a rejection of modernization. The Talibans rode around in their white Toyota trucks but still closed into their mediaval minds.

It will be interesting to see what unfolds. The foreign minister has made it clear that the Turkish Government will not accept anything short of full membership.

UPDATE: 19/12/2004

Turkey has passed one set of gates but there are more to come. This must among the most intricate membership applications known. They have the United Kingdom, France and Germany as members – and now they get fussy.

Even at this stage, the information relating to Turkey’s application would fill a truck.

UPDATE: 21/12/2004

I had not fully realized that the latest EU decision was to allow for accession negotiations beginning on 3 October, 2005, and that full membership may yet take ten to fifteen years. Here one commentator, a former Indian Ambassador to Turkey, describes the mood at the EU’ decision:

The Turks were disappointed, dismayed, irritated and angry. An aide in the Erdoğan entourage described the mood of the delegation in Brussels as one of disappointment. The opposition leader in Ankara, Deniz Baykal, called for the talks to be put on ice. Leftist parties and organizations demonstrated against the deal. If after more than a century of reforms, Westernization and modernization during its Ottoman era, later wholesale reforms under Kemal Ataturk and 81 years as a secular republic, is this how the Christian West treats a Muslim country?

K Jagendra Singh, the writer of this piece, argues that Turkey may have missed its best chance for membership in 1986, when Greece joined, but now September 11 makes all the difference. And then there are the interests of regional players such as Israel and Russia.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 40 other followers