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UN EFFECTIVENESS? January 31, 2005

Posted by wmmbb in Global Electoral Politics.
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Jonathan Power, writing in Arab News, makes two points worthy of further consideration. Military occupations has usually resulted in failure. The UN has been very successful in restoring stability to countries torn apart by civil wars.

The military occupation of Germany and Japan after the second war world was an exception. He observes:

A study published in a recent edition of Harvard University’s “International Security” reveals that out of 24 military occupations examined only seven were a success and six of those came in the wake of World War II as the Cold War was emerging and concentrating minds.

The Germans and the Japanese were war-weary. Moreover, the allies were well prepared. During the war the US had established Civil Affairs Training Schools which provided training in military administration, language and cultural knowledge of the countries they expected officers to work in.

The UN is seldom given credit for its effectiveness in creating peace in countries racked by civil war, although as Power suggests it has the runs on the board:

In the early 1990s the UN had a string of successes, now almost forgotten — in Namibia, Cambodia, El Salvador and Mozambique, all countries that had been torn asunder by fratricidal civil war far worse than what is occurring in Iraq. The UN not only helped keep the peace but set in motion reasonably free and fair elections.

Even in the more difficult situations of peace enforcement — in Eastern Slavonia in 1996 and in East Timor in 1999 — the UN won through. According to a recent RAND study, the reasons for UN success are when the mission is well resourced, the troops well trained, contains a core of First World troops and has unambiguous backing from the Security Council. Indeed, if Bosnia’s UN troops had been as well resourced as the NATO troops that replaced them the UN might have had success there too.

Jonathan Power acknowledges the problems in the Congo but points to the relatively poor quality of the troops involved. Hence he suggests that Iraq could benefit if the UN took over the military responsibilities in Iraq. Something, for the Americans will be increasingly grateful, but require some in the Bush Administration to give up the notion of Unilateralism.

UN EFFECTIVENESS? January 31, 2005

Posted by wmmbb in Uncategorized.
add a comment

Jonathan Power, writing in Arab News, makes two points worthy of further consideration. Military occupations has usually resulted in failure. The UN has been very successful in restoring stability to countries torn apart by civil wars.

The military occupation of Germany and Japan after the second war world was an exception. He observes:

A study published in a recent edition of Harvard University’s “International Security” reveals that out of 24 military occupations examined only seven were a success and six of those came in the wake of World War II as the Cold War was emerging and concentrating minds.

The Germans and the Japanese were war-weary. Moreover, the allies were well prepared. During the war the US had established Civil Affairs Training Schools which provided training in military administration, language and cultural knowledge of the countries they expected officers to work in.

The UN is seldom given credit for its effectiveness in creating peace in countries racked by civil war, although as Power suggests it has the runs on the board:

In the early 1990s the UN had a string of successes, now almost forgotten — in Namibia, Cambodia, El Salvador and Mozambique, all countries that had been torn asunder by fratricidal civil war far worse than what is occurring in Iraq. The UN not only helped keep the peace but set in motion reasonably free and fair elections.

Even in the more difficult situations of peace enforcement — in Eastern Slavonia in 1996 and in East Timor in 1999 — the UN won through. According to a recent RAND study, the reasons for UN success are when the mission is well resourced, the troops well trained, contains a core of First World troops and has unambiguous backing from the Security Council. Indeed, if Bosnia’s UN troops had been as well resourced as the NATO troops that replaced them the UN might have had success there too.

Jonathan Power acknowledges the problems in the Congo but points to the relatively poor quality of the troops involved. Hence he suggests that Iraq could benefit if the UN took over the military responsibilities in Iraq. Something, for the Americans will be increasingly grateful, but require some in the Bush Administration to give up the notion of Unilateralism.

IRAQI ELECTIONS IN PROGRESS January 30, 2005

Posted by wmmbb in Iraq Policy.
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Waiting their turn
Iraqis wait to vote outside a polling station in Tehran.
Photo: Hasan Sarbakhshian/AP
Posted by Hello

The elections underway in Iraq will not solve the political problem of the insurgency, since that has its origins in the American invasion and there subsequent behavior in Iraq. It is possible that they may help to create the conditions for civil war.

Therefore, if this statements pove to be the case, nor will the elections create the conditions for a complete American withdrawal, without bases or any other appendages of imperialism.

Michael Ignatieff writing in The Guardian is critical of those who are not supportive of the democratic process.

IRAQI ELECTIONS IN PROGRESS January 30, 2005

Posted by wmmbb in Uncategorized.
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Waiting their turn

Iraqis wait to vote outside a polling station in Tehran.

Photo: Hasan Sarbakhshian/AP

Posted by Hello

The elections underway in Iraq will not solve the political problem of the insurgency, since that has its origins in the American invasion and there subsequent behavior in Iraq. It is possible that they may help to create the conditions for civil war.

Therefore, if this statements pove to be the case, nor will the elections create the conditions for a complete American withdrawal, without bases or any other appendages of imperialism.

Michael Ignatieff writing in The Guardian is critical of those who are not supportive of the democratic process.

HABIB IS HOME January 30, 2005

Posted by wmmbb in Terrorism Issues.
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Mamdoub Habib on arrival in Sydney – ABC News Posted by Hello

Plainly it is extraordinary and unacceptable for an Australian citizen to be incarcerated for over three years, and for the the Australian Government not to insist he should have been charged and brought to trial.

Equally obviously, the war against terrorism, if such a description fits the facts, cannot be won, and should not be waged, by methods inconsistent with the accepted processes of justice. To do otherwise is to open the way for tyranny. It is to forget history, and the suffering of those who have lived before us, whose graves are not merely silent but vanished from the earth. The right to a fair and open trial, for example, is something we should all insist on. In our democracy it is the responsibility of every citizen to defend those principles. We should defend Habib’s right to a fair trial, as if it is our own, as it is.

To deny a person such rights requires the payment of compensation, regardless of whether that person committed any crime. It seems that the released British detainees will be suing the American government for compensation(according to Seymour Hersh), and so Habib, and in turn Hicks, and others, will become part of a class action.

Today the new Opposition Leader, Bleazley has gone back to being pathetic. He made a statement to the effect that it was good enough for Habib to return to Australia. He said he was not going to make Habib a hero. The Shadow Attorney General, Nicola Roxon, is, according to the ABC News, more substantive:

Ms Roxon says Mr Ruddock must be careful not to make unfounded allegations against Mr Habib.

“Mr Ruddock is always interested in running these sorts of matters in the media instead of in the courts,” she said.

“I think he should think carefully about what it’s appropriate to say and what it isn’t and he should also tell the Australian public the full story about this matter.”

Ms Roxon says the Government should consider America’s reasons for releasing Mr Habib as they start monitoring his movements.

“I think it’s a little bit rich that Mr Ruddock hasn’t taken account of the fact that the US has let Mr Habib go without charge – there must be a reason for that and he still hasn’t come clean on what those reasons where and I think it’s about time we were told the full story,” she said.

The allegations of torture made by Habib must be taken with full seriousness, and ought to establish that the Australian Government had no complicity in such behavior.

Habib major problems, aside from earning a income, following his experiences will be psychological, even psychiatric, nor will it be easy for his wife and family.

To repeat, if Habib has committed any crime, let that be made public, and then let him face a fair trial. Otherwise the question arises as to why does he continue to be persecuted? Is is on racist grounds, or on religious grounds?

Meanwhile, John Guiggin suggests is Habib accepts sells his story to a media outlet the Government will be tested to make its case, and if it doesnot act then Ruddock should resign.

HABIB IS HOME January 30, 2005

Posted by wmmbb in Uncategorized.
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Mamdoub Habib on arrival in Sydney – ABC News Posted by Hello

Plainly it is extraordinary and unacceptable for an Australian citizen to be incarcerated for over three years, and for the the Australian Government not to insist he should have been charged and brought to trial.

Equally obviously, the war against terrorism, if such a description fits the facts, cannot be won, and should not be waged, by methods inconsistent with the accepted processes of justice. To do otherwise is to open the way for tyranny. It is to forget history, and the suffering of those who have lived before us, whose graves are not merely silent but vanished from the earth. The right to a fair and open trial, for example, is something we should all insist on. In our democracy it is the responsibility of every citizen to defend those principles. We should defend Habib’s right to a fair trial, as if it is our own, as it is.

To deny a person such rights requires the payment of compensation, regardless of whether that person committed any crime. It seems that the released British detainees will be suing the American government for compensation(according to Seymour Hersh), and so Habib, and in turn Hicks, and others, will become part of a class action.

Today the new Opposition Leader, Bleazley has gone back to being pathetic. He made a statement to the effect that it was good enough for Habib to return to Australia. He said he was not going to make Habib a hero. The Shadow Attorney General, Nicola Roxon, is, according to the ABC News, more substantive:

Ms Roxon says Mr Ruddock must be careful not to make unfounded allegations against Mr Habib.

“Mr Ruddock is always interested in running these sorts of matters in the media instead of in the courts,” she said.

“I think he should think carefully about what it’s appropriate to say and what it isn’t and he should also tell the Australian public the full story about this matter.”

Ms Roxon says the Government should consider America’s reasons for releasing Mr Habib as they start monitoring his movements.

“I think it’s a little bit rich that Mr Ruddock hasn’t taken account of the fact that the US has let Mr Habib go without charge – there must be a reason for that and he still hasn’t come clean on what those reasons where and I think it’s about time we were told the full story,” she said.

The allegations of torture made by Habib must be taken with full seriousness, and ought to establish that the Australian Government had no complicity in such behavior.

Habib major problems, aside from earning a income, following his experiences will be psychological, even psychiatric, nor will it be easy for his wife and family.

To repeat, if Habib has committed any crime, let that be made public, and then let him face a fair trial. Otherwise the question arises as to why does he continue to be persecuted? Is is on racist grounds, or on religious grounds?

Meanwhile, John Guiggin suggests is Habib accepts sells his story to a media outlet the Government will be tested to make its case, and if it doesnot act then Ruddock should resign.

“BUSH UNLEASHES THE DOGS OF FREEDOM” January 29, 2005

Posted by wmmbb in US Politics.
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First of all here is George Bush’s Second Inaugural Address.

This post is a continuation of my thoughts from“Searching for an Analogy”. To avoid both tendentiousness and tediousness, I set out to give space to opposing views, in this case the article by Greg Sheridan in The Weekend Australian (22-23 January,2005.) Sheridan proclaims, in the nature of such pieces, that:

The US President is the most extraordinary politician of his time anywhere in the world, and perhaps the most consequential. That is the only conclusion to draw after the soaring rhetoric and purpose of George W. Bush’s second inaugural address.

Those statements might ensure that Greg Sheridan gets access to the Administration’s movers and shakers in the future.

The dogs crouched at the foot of the Imperial Presidency, waiting for redeployment, are we are told seeking to promote that illusive concept “freedom”, or what might be thought of as bondage by other means, if it does not carry with it freedom to think, to believe, to express, to associate and to protest. The cynical view, still prevalent if veiled, is that most cannot think, or what they might think is inconsequential, or merely the recycling of prejudice and programming, subject to adjustment and modification. I think therefore I am. I do not think, and I am that too.

Still “liberty” and “freedom” are stirring words evocative of the American genesis, if not the present, and when repeated are reinforced. The President’s speech , as Greg Sheridan observes, “sits within US presidential and foreign policy traditions”, and as is evidenced by the inscription on the Liberty Bell an expression of a characteristic American religiosity. Quotations from the Bible might be expected, but reference to the Koran is new.

What is striking, Sheridan says is:

Bush’s view, as expressed in the speech, rests on three ideological tenets and a distinctive, coherent theory of history. The ideological tenets are that while wide variety of government forms are acceptable these a universal human desire for freedom and democracy. This desire is encoded in human nature, for as Bush put it, “no one is fit to be master, no one deserves to be a slave”.

According to Sheridan, the speech affirms freedom is not just an American virtue, but a universal human value, an inherent desire. The same might be said for human rights, for which there are more compelling practical measures as well as evidence of lack of virtue on the part of Administration policy, if not legal and constitutional tradition. Nonetheless, Bush proposes ” the bold ambition to support freedom all around the world . . .”

The idea of American exceptionalism, a nation founded in liberty, embodies not arrogance or narcissism, if that be an ingredient of arrogance, but idealism. Others are, in turns, fortunate and blighted by such an ideological position. There might be time to consider to be good may do wrong, as much as good intentions may build a road to hell. Such rhetoric, compelling on the surface, is more often than not, intrinsically simplistic and dangerous, especially as suggested it is to be taken seriously. This is not to say that democracy and freedom are not good of themselves, but they must stand in the sunlight, and not as shadows.

With such a doctrine, it comes as a surprise that American too are part of the global community, and their fate is bound up with the well being of others. September 11 was the point of difference, “a day of fire”. Even to suppose, a beginning in history, for which everything prior can be selectively remembered and forgotten, until history – as it usually does – remorselessly catches up with rhetoric. Not to be forgotten however is that “the crusade for freedom serves both US values and US interests.” And it is to be assumed, as so readily can be done, that the American values driving their interests, and that these values are the ones addressed.

America had a “sabbatical” and ceased to be an actor on the world stage following the success of “the bloodly fight against Communism”. Assertions of dubious merit, expressed by a President or a journalist, hardly add up to a coherent theory of history.

As Sheridan observes rhetoric is not irrelevant. It shapes and rationalizes policy although:

The difficulty of interpretation is to know how Bush’s ambitions will translate into policy. Is this rhetoric a statement of aims to justify further money form Congress for Iraq and Afghanistan, or does it presage new action, not presumably on the Iraq scale, to export freedom to, say, Iran and North Korea?

Following his conversation with Richard Armitage, Sheridan identifies several lasting achievements of the first term, including the building of relationships with China and Japan, the defusing of the India and Pakistan nuclear confrontation, the ending of the anti-ballistic missile treaty with Russia, and the huge funds devoted to foreign aid. Nothing for example, about Kyoto.

Greg Sheridan is surely right that the second Bush Administration will be judged more than anything by the outcome in Iraq. And so will his good mates Tony Blair and John Howard.

"BUSH UNLEASHES THE DOGS OF FREEDOM" January 29, 2005

Posted by wmmbb in Uncategorized.
add a comment

First of all here is George Bush’s Second Inaugural Address.



This post is a continuation of my thoughts from“Searching for an Analogy”. To avoid both tendentiousness and tediousness, I set out to give space to opposing views, in this case the article by Greg Sheridan in The Weekend Australian (22-23 January,2005.) Sheridan proclaims, in the nature of such pieces, that:

The US President is the most extraordinary politician of his time anywhere in the world, and perhaps the most consequential. That is the only conclusion to draw after the soaring rhetoric and purpose of George W. Bush’s second inaugural address.

Those statements might ensure that Greg Sheridan gets access to the Administration’s movers and shakers in the future.

The dogs crouched at the foot of the Imperial Presidency, waiting for redeployment, are we are told seeking to promote that illusive concept “freedom”, or what might be thought of as bondage by other means, if it does not carry with it freedom to think, to believe, to express, to associate and to protest. The cynical view, still prevalent if veiled, is that most cannot think, or what they might think is inconsequential, or merely the recycling of prejudice and programming, subject to adjustment and modification. I think therefore I am. I do not think, and I am that too.

Still “liberty” and “freedom” are stirring words evocative of the American genesis, if not the present, and when repeated are reinforced. The President’s speech , as Greg Sheridan observes, “sits within US presidential and foreign policy traditions”, and as is evidenced by the inscription on the Liberty Bell an expression of a characteristic American religiosity. Quotations from the Bible might be expected, but reference to the Koran is new.

What is striking, Sheridan says is:

Bush’s view, as expressed in the speech, rests on three ideological tenets and a distinctive, coherent theory of history. The ideological tenets are that while wide variety of government forms are acceptable these a universal human desire for freedom and democracy. This desire is encoded in human nature, for as Bush put it, “no one is fit to be master, no one deserves to be a slave”.

According to Sheridan, the speech affirms freedom is not just an American virtue, but a universal human value, an inherent desire. The same might be said for human rights, for which there are more compelling practical measures as well as evidence of lack of virtue on the part of Administration policy, if not legal and constitutional tradition. Nonetheless, Bush proposes ” the bold ambition to support freedom all around the world . . .”

The idea of American exceptionalism, a nation founded in liberty, embodies not arrogance or narcissism, if that be an ingredient of arrogance, but idealism. Others are, in turns, fortunate and blighted by such an ideological position. There might be time to consider to be good may do wrong, as much as good intentions may build a road to hell. Such rhetoric, compelling on the surface, is more often than not, intrinsically simplistic and dangerous, especially as suggested it is to be taken seriously. This is not to say that democracy and freedom are not good of themselves, but they must stand in the sunlight, and not as shadows.

With such a doctrine, it comes as a surprise that American too are part of the global community, and their fate is bound up with the well being of others. September 11 was the point of difference, “a day of fire”. Even to suppose, a beginning in history, for which everything prior can be selectively remembered and forgotten, until history – as it usually does – remorselessly catches up with rhetoric. Not to be forgotten however is that “the crusade for freedom serves both US values and US interests.” And it is to be assumed, as so readily can be done, that the American values driving their interests, and that these values are the ones addressed.

America had a “sabbatical” and ceased to be an actor on the world stage following the success of “the bloodly fight against Communism”. Assertions of dubious merit, expressed by a President or a journalist, hardly add up to a coherent theory of history.

As Sheridan observes rhetoric is not irrelevant. It shapes and rationalizes policy although:

The difficulty of interpretation is to know how Bush’s ambitions will translate into policy. Is this rhetoric a statement of aims to justify further money form Congress for Iraq and Afghanistan, or does it presage new action, not presumably on the Iraq scale, to export freedom to, say, Iran and North Korea?

Following his conversation with Richard Armitage, Sheridan identifies several lasting achievements of the first term, including the building of relationships with China and Japan, the defusing of the India and Pakistan nuclear confrontation, the ending of the anti-ballistic missile treaty with Russia, and the huge funds devoted to foreign aid. Nothing for example, about Kyoto.

Greg Sheridan is surely right that the second Bush Administration will be judged more than anything by the outcome in Iraq. And so will his good mates Tony Blair and John Howard.

STORY OF A PEDESTRIAN January 28, 2005

Posted by wmmbb in Blogging in general, Life Experience.
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Pope Innocent III and Francis of Assissi Posted by Hello

This blog seems to have hit an all time low in terms of visitors and readers, which is a good thing. Duckpond, before I arrived today had three visitors, but no matter the apples keep rolling and the Middle Ages keep flying by.

Other than a blog feature, to space out the postings, the apples represent my joke about the meaninglessness of many statistics, and in particular the tendency for mathematical illiteracy, which not universal has its adherents and victims. Often I feel myself to be victim. Now, as your have guessed, I have decided they might represents dates in history. And it occurs to me by history, I mean European history, as if nobody else lived on the planet at the time.


Medieval Wedding Posted by Hello

It is hard to kept up. We are into the fourteenth century, and very soon, if we do not already, have the early evidence of the Renaissance.

I am walking and history is running. It is an embarrassing situation.

STORY OF A PEDESTRIAN January 28, 2005

Posted by wmmbb in Uncategorized.
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Pope Innocent III and Francis of Assissi Posted by Hello

This blog seems to have hit an all time low in terms of visitors and readers, which is a good thing. Duckpond, before I arrived today had three visitors, but no matter the apples keep rolling and the Middle Ages keep flying by.

Other than a blog feature, to space out the postings, the apples represent my joke about the meaninglessness of many statistics, and in particular the tendency for mathematical illiteracy, which not universal has its adherents and victims. Often I feel myself to be victim. Now, as your have guessed, I have decided they might represents dates in history. And it occurs to me by history, I mean European history, as if nobody else lived on the planet at the time.



Medieval Wedding Posted by Hello

It is hard to kept up. We are into the fourteenth century, and very soon, if we do not already, have the early evidence of the Renaissance.

I am walking and history is running. It is an embarrassing situation.

HOLOCAUST ANNIVERSARY January 27, 2005

Posted by wmmbb in Modern History.
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Today is the sixtieth anniversary of the holocaust, or more exactly the liberation of Auschwitz concentration camp by the Red Army. Some have sort to deny the holocaust, but it remains an enduring, and by no means the only, twentieth century symbol of inhumanity, and, without exaggeration, evil.

Writing in the Sydney Morning Herald today, Tom Luke observes:

One would have thought that after the experience of World War II, humanity would come to its senses.

Still, since 1945, further millions of innocent men, women and children have been deliberately enslaved, tortured and assassinated by various members of the world community. Their purpose: holding on to or acquiring power, in the name of nationhood, class, creed, or some other doctrine or agenda.

Moreover, society seems to be replete with fanatics who openly preach death to infidels. Meanwhile, in comfortable chambers at a safe distance from scenes of mass murder, distinguished ladies and gentlemen deliberate as to whether this case or that qualifies as genocide.

As we remember Auschwitz, we must also bear in mind that for the vast majority of victims, liberation came too late.

In his essay, The Shadow of Auschwitz, published in The Independent, John Lichfield writes:

Among those at the Birkenau commemoration will be Raphael Esrail, 80, who was taken to Auschwitz from France in February 1944, at the age of 19, and is now secretary general of the French association of Auschwitz victims. “There have been other anniversaries and there will be others still to come,” he said, “but this is maybe the most important. First, because it will be the last big anniversary to have so many living eyewitnesses. Most of us are already in our eighties.”

“But it is crucial also for another reason. The world has changed. And not in the way we had hoped. After the war, we comforted ourselves that this terrible experience might finally teach mankind to love mankind, but what do we see now? We see again the rise of anti-Semitism and we see a world torn apart by fanatical hatreds and by absolute certainties.”

In other words, the most important lesson that we can learn from today is that Auschwitz is not just part of our history. It is part of our present. This is a lesson that seems to have escaped the 45 per cent of Britons – according to a recent poll – who have not heard of Auschwitz.

I have heard of Auschwitz, but not so much the other concentration camps which had been bulldozed over before the end of the war, but it is not a vivid understanding.

I am curious as to why more was not done, perhaps could not be done by the Allies. Why, for example, the railway lines were not bombed.

UPDATE: 28/01/2005

The facts related to the holocaust are important. This ABC Newslist Report provides some of them:

World leaders and survivors stopped to remember the horror of the Holocaust on Thursday at a snow-swept ceremony in Auschwitz-Birkenau on the 60th anniversary of the liberation of the Nazi death camp.

Surrounded by barbed wire fences and remnants of the killing machine used to gas and incinerate some of the 11 million people who died in the Holocaust, the leaders arriving for the ceremony vowed that the World War II atrocity should never be forgotten.

Up to 1.5 million people died in the gas chambers and crematoria of Auschwitz-Birkenau, set up by Nazi Germany in occupied Poland during World War II as the main centre of their “Final Solution”, the genocide of six million European Jews.

Auschwitz was liberated on January 27, 1945 by the advancing Soviet army whose stunned soldiers released 7,000 emaciated prisoners left behind as the Germans withdrew.

“The snow was falling like today, we were dressed in stripes and some of us had bare feet,” Polish survivor Kazimierz Orlowski, 84, said on Thursday. “These were horrible times.”

Elderly survivors, many accompanied by younger relatives, walked slowly past the rusting wire fences under a dark grey sky and heavily falling snow towards a monument to the victims.

“I am not here to talk about what happened. My only aim is to light a candle for my mother, whose ashes are who knows where in this camp,” said Jan Wojciech Topolewski, a former prisoner whose mother died in Auschwitz.

For four years the camp was the centrepiece of Nazi Germany’s “Final Solution”. The site has become the most powerful symbol of the Holocaust and the reminder of one of the darkest chapters in Europe’s history.

“I want to say to all people around the world – this should not happen again,” said Anatoly Shapiro, the commander of the troops who first entered Auschwitz.

“I saw the faces of the people we liberated – they went through hell,” he told an earlier ceremony in the city of Krakow in southern Poland.

World leaders along with scores of survivors lighted candles at the camp’s main extermination centre Birkenau, some 70 km from Krakow.

More than 30 heads of state and top officials attended the ceremonies, including Israeli President Moshe Katsav, US Vice President Dick Cheney, Russian President Vladimir Putin and his German and French counterparts.

French President Jacques Chirac, the first French leader to acknowledge France’s complicity in the Holocaust, said the EU would stand united to counter anti-Semitism.

“We are making an unconditional effort to build Europe united in peace and democracy able to crush hatred, intolerance and fanaticism as they arise,” he said after opening a memorial to French victims at the camp.

Set up in 1940 by the occupying Nazis, Auschwitz was initially a labour camp for Polish prisoners but gradually grew into a death factory for European Jews shipped there from around Europe and Russia.

At its peak the camp could hold 400,000 people, with thousands killed in gas chambers on arrival after travelling in cattle trains for days without food or water.

More than one million Jews were killed but Gypsies, Poles, Russians also died in the camp.

- ABC/Reuters

HOLOCAUST ANNIVERSARY January 27, 2005

Posted by wmmbb in Uncategorized.
add a comment

Today is the sixtieth anniversary of the holocaust, or more exactly the liberation of Auschwitz concentration camp by the Red Army. Some have sort to deny the holocaust, but it remains an enduring, and by no means the only, twentieth century symbol of inhumanity, and, without exaggeration, evil.

Writing in the Sydney Morning Herald today, Tom Luke observes:

One would have thought that after the experience of World War II, humanity would come to its senses.

Still, since 1945, further millions of innocent men, women and children have been deliberately enslaved, tortured and assassinated by various members of the world community. Their purpose: holding on to or acquiring power, in the name of nationhood, class, creed, or some other doctrine or agenda.

Moreover, society seems to be replete with fanatics who openly preach death to infidels. Meanwhile, in comfortable chambers at a safe distance from scenes of mass murder, distinguished ladies and gentlemen deliberate as to whether this case or that qualifies as genocide.

As we remember Auschwitz, we must also bear in mind that for the vast majority of victims, liberation came too late.

In his essay, The Shadow of Auschwitz, published in The Independent, John Lichfield writes:

Among those at the Birkenau commemoration will be Raphael Esrail, 80, who was taken to Auschwitz from France in February 1944, at the age of 19, and is now secretary general of the French association of Auschwitz victims. “There have been other anniversaries and there will be others still to come,” he said, “but this is maybe the most important. First, because it will be the last big anniversary to have so many living eyewitnesses. Most of us are already in our eighties.”

“But it is crucial also for another reason. The world has changed. And not in the way we had hoped. After the war, we comforted ourselves that this terrible experience might finally teach mankind to love mankind, but what do we see now? We see again the rise of anti-Semitism and we see a world torn apart by fanatical hatreds and by absolute certainties.”

In other words, the most important lesson that we can learn from today is that Auschwitz is not just part of our history. It is part of our present. This is a lesson that seems to have escaped the 45 per cent of Britons – according to a recent poll – who have not heard of Auschwitz.

I have heard of Auschwitz, but not so much the other concentration camps which had been bulldozed over before the end of the war, but it is not a vivid understanding.

I am curious as to why more was not done, perhaps could not be done by the Allies. Why, for example, the railway lines were not bombed.

UPDATE: 28/01/2005

The facts related to the holocaust are important. This ABC Newslist Report provides some of them:

World leaders and survivors stopped to remember the horror of the Holocaust on Thursday at a snow-swept ceremony in Auschwitz-Birkenau on the 60th anniversary of the liberation of the Nazi death camp.

Surrounded by barbed wire fences and remnants of the killing machine used to gas and incinerate some of the 11 million people who died in the Holocaust, the leaders arriving for the ceremony vowed that the World War II atrocity should never be forgotten.

Up to 1.5 million people died in the gas chambers and crematoria of Auschwitz-Birkenau, set up by Nazi Germany in occupied Poland during World War II as the main centre of their “Final Solution”, the genocide of six million European Jews.

Auschwitz was liberated on January 27, 1945 by the advancing Soviet army whose stunned soldiers released 7,000 emaciated prisoners left behind as the Germans withdrew.

“The snow was falling like today, we were dressed in stripes and some of us had bare feet,” Polish survivor Kazimierz Orlowski, 84, said on Thursday. “These were horrible times.”

Elderly survivors, many accompanied by younger relatives, walked slowly past the rusting wire fences under a dark grey sky and heavily falling snow towards a monument to the victims.

“I am not here to talk about what happened. My only aim is to light a candle for my mother, whose ashes are who knows where in this camp,” said Jan Wojciech Topolewski, a former prisoner whose mother died in Auschwitz.

For four years the camp was the centrepiece of Nazi Germany’s “Final Solution”. The site has become the most powerful symbol of the Holocaust and the reminder of one of the darkest chapters in Europe’s history.

“I want to say to all people around the world – this should not happen again,” said Anatoly Shapiro, the commander of the troops who first entered Auschwitz.

“I saw the faces of the people we liberated – they went through hell,” he told an earlier ceremony in the city of Krakow in southern Poland.

World leaders along with scores of survivors lighted candles at the camp’s main extermination centre Birkenau, some 70 km from Krakow.

More than 30 heads of state and top officials attended the ceremonies, including Israeli President Moshe Katsav, US Vice President Dick Cheney, Russian President Vladimir Putin and his German and French counterparts.

French President Jacques Chirac, the first French leader to acknowledge France’s complicity in the Holocaust, said the EU would stand united to counter anti-Semitism.

“We are making an unconditional effort to build Europe united in peace and democracy able to crush hatred, intolerance and fanaticism as they arise,” he said after opening a memorial to French victims at the camp.

Set up in 1940 by the occupying Nazis, Auschwitz was initially a labour camp for Polish prisoners but gradually grew into a death factory for European Jews shipped there from around Europe and Russia.

At its peak the camp could hold 400,000 people, with thousands killed in gas chambers on arrival after travelling in cattle trains for days without food or water.

More than one million Jews were killed but Gypsies, Poles, Russians also died in the camp.

- ABC/Reuters

INVASION DAY January 26, 2005

Posted by wmmbb in Australian Politics, Modern History.
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Aboriginal Graphic – Sydney Morning Herald, 26 January 2001 Posted by Hello

Let me note in passing today in India they are celebrating Republic Day. And further, that Beazley, if I caught the report on ABC radio correctly, that the ALP under his leadership will promote the Republic. How foolish were those who opposed the referendum for the Republoc on the basis that was less than they sought? The formation of a republic might have been an opportunity for reconciliation, between the indigenous and immigrant societies and cultures.

Travel by train is a social experience, a mixing of different backgrounds and behaviors. As I waited outside Central last night, I observed three policemen, with blue rubber gloves, interviewing a group of Aboriginal people. None of the police appeared to be of Aboriginal descent. One of the Aboriginal men is obviously drunk. I understand from sociological societies in all settler societies that there is a higher level of incarceration among minority groups, especially indigenous people, than their proportion of the population would warrant.

My traveling companion, a work colleague, purely by the happenstance we are traveling in the same direction, is a Maori woman. We engage in quiet small talk about work and gossip about people. The type of conversation that is inherently tedious to anybody else not engaged in it. But that does not stop some from proclaiming themselves to a captive audience, and maybe that can be understood as a general human behavior.

It does not happen often, and it may have been more frequent in the past on public transport, but then a male individual started loudly complaining that Chinese family should not be speaking Cantonese, or Mandarin, or other Chinese language but should be speaking English. The complaint was speaking with the assistance of alcohol. Perhaps this is too logical but he said something to the effect that if you are not prepared to speak English, you should go back to your own country. “This is an English speaking country.” Our loud friend, if my memory is accurate, also proclaimed that the was born here, that is, he was a native of this continent.

My friend was going to stand up and proclaim she was an indigene, but not of this country. But, of course, it is obvious that we are all indigenous, even if we do not live in those areas where we may make the claim, and given the history of Europe, such a claim may be hard to make.

This disruption was the occasion to re-enter the difference of opinion between ourselves, as whether people should learn and speak English as a condition for participating in Australian society. I am not adamant on this question as she is. An understanding of English will help people cope with the requirements of the society. It is advantageous, but past childhood difficult to become fully fluent, and perfectly understandable to me at least, why people would want to revert to their native tongue for private conversations.

I must admit I was irritated when we were traveling to rotor in a mini-van when the three Cantonese speakers clubbed together and ignored those of us who native English and Bauhaus speakers.

These comments are anecdotal, but the thing that occurs to me that we can be so governed in our behavior by a mentality related to geographical and conceptual boundaries. We may do it badly, but we should seek to understand the general, which is common to all.

I suspect that such a view was not shared by forebears. Attitudes held collectively can be very damaging to the well being of people affected by them. People living in the larger cities of the Eastern States, might not have been as directly involved in the dispossession of the original inhabitants as still happening within living memory of the dispossession of the indigenous inhabitants within generational memory of those such as my family who lived closer to the frontier of White settlement.

Reconciliation would be of value to many of us, not for what it may mean to others, but for what it means for us.. Hopefully, it might make it more possible for more of the first people of this continent to live healthy and productive lives.We ought as well to recognize the human accomplishment of living for thousands of years in this sometimes this unforgiving and harsh land. That, in my eyes, remains the major achievement to be fulfilled which will make Australia Day a worthy celebration.

The graphic accompanes an article by David Day in the Sydney Morning Herald.

INVASION DAY January 26, 2005

Posted by wmmbb in Uncategorized.
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Aboriginal Graphic – Sydney Morning Herald, 26 January 2001 Posted by Hello

Let me note in passing today in India they are celebrating Republic Day. And further, that Beazley, if I caught the report on ABC radio correctly, that the ALP under his leadership will promote the Republic. How foolish were those who opposed the referendum for the Republoc on the basis that was less than they sought? The formation of a republic might have been an opportunity for reconciliation, between the indigenous and immigrant societies and cultures.

Travel by train is a social experience, a mixing of different backgrounds and behaviors. As I waited outside Central last night, I observed three policemen, with blue rubber gloves, interviewing a group of Aboriginal people. None of the police appeared to be of Aboriginal descent. One of the Aboriginal men is obviously drunk. I understand from sociological societies in all settler societies that there is a higher level of incarceration among minority groups, especially indigenous people, than their proportion of the population would warrant.

My traveling companion, a work colleague, purely by the happenstance we are traveling in the same direction, is a Maori woman. We engage in quiet small talk about work and gossip about people. The type of conversation that is inherently tedious to anybody else not engaged in it. But that does not stop some from proclaiming themselves to a captive audience, and maybe that can be understood as a general human behavior.

It does not happen often, and it may have been more frequent in the past on public transport, but then a male individual started loudly complaining that Chinese family should not be speaking Cantonese, or Mandarin, or other Chinese language but should be speaking English. The complaint was speaking with the assistance of alcohol. Perhaps this is too logical but he said something to the effect that if you are not prepared to speak English, you should go back to your own country. “This is an English speaking country.” Our loud friend, if my memory is accurate, also proclaimed that the was born here, that is, he was a native of this continent.

My friend was going to stand up and proclaim she was an indigene, but not of this country. But, of course, it is obvious that we are all indigenous, even if we do not live in those areas where we may make the claim, and given the history of Europe, such a claim may be hard to make.

This disruption was the occasion to re-enter the difference of opinion between ourselves, as whether people should learn and speak English as a condition for participating in Australian society. I am not adamant on this question as she is. An understanding of English will help people cope with the requirements of the society. It is advantageous, but past childhood difficult to become fully fluent, and perfectly understandable to me at least, why people would want to revert to their native tongue for private conversations.

I must admit I was irritated when we were traveling to rotor in a mini-van when the three Cantonese speakers clubbed together and ignored those of us who native English and Bauhaus speakers.

These comments are anecdotal, but the thing that occurs to me that we can be so governed in our behavior by a mentality related to geographical and conceptual boundaries. We may do it badly, but we should seek to understand the general, which is common to all.

I suspect that such a view was not shared by forebears. Attitudes held collectively can be very damaging to the well being of people affected by them. People living in the larger cities of the Eastern States, might not have been as directly involved in the dispossession of the original inhabitants as still happening within living memory of the dispossession of the indigenous inhabitants within generational memory of those such as my family who lived closer to the frontier of White settlement.

Reconciliation would be of value to many of us, not for what it may mean to others, but for what it means for us.. Hopefully, it might make it more possible for more of the first people of this continent to live healthy and productive lives.We ought as well to recognize the human accomplishment of living for thousands of years in this sometimes this unforgiving and harsh land. That, in my eyes, remains the major achievement to be fulfilled which will make Australia Day a worthy celebration.

The graphic accompanes an article by David Day in the Sydney Morning Herald.

WORDS, WORDS, WORDS January 25, 2005

Posted by wmmbb in Duckspeak.
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Kim Beazley (File Photo – ABC TV) Posted by Hello

“My goodness me”, certain phrase and words seem to characterize some political actors.

Even the most prolix of politicians, or so we are told, seems to be given to mannerisms. Of course, if journalists and others who accuse Beazley of this fault, should themselves on that basis use the more accessible synonyms, “wordy”, “prolonged”, and perhaps both. Beazley may indeed be drawn out, but his critics in this case are condemned by their own language, and on that basis, up themselves. They might be said to be hoisted by their own rope.

However, it is curious to hear Beazley use the word, “folk”, for people. For example, Kim Beazley was quoted by the ABC News today:

Despite being the only party member to declare an intention to stand, Mr Beazley is refusing to rate his chances. “I’m just simply in the business of asking folk to vote for me,” he said.

Folk, as its etymology confirms, is a good Anglo-Saxon word , but one unknown, or at least unusual, in general Australian speech.

Here is the Mirriam-Webster treatment of “Folk”:

Pronunciation: ‘fOk. Function: noun. Inflected Form(s): plural folk or folks. Etymology: Middle English, from Old English folc; akin to Old High German folc people.

  1. archaic : a group of kindred tribes forming a nation : PEOPLE : the great proportion of the members of a people that determines the group character and that tends to preserve its characteristic form of civilization and its customs, arts and crafts, legends, traditions, and superstitions from generation to generation
  2. plural : a certain kind, class, or group of people
  3. folks plural : people generally
  4. folks plural : the persons of one’s own family; especially : PARENTS

The use of “folk”is perfectly understandable in the context with which Beazley uses it, but I am curious as to how Kim came to use it.

POSTSCRIPT:

In all cases of correction of myself given my many faults, I will be claiming the critics prerogative of ignorance.

WORDS, WORDS, WORDS January 25, 2005

Posted by wmmbb in Uncategorized.
add a comment



Kim Beazley (File Photo – ABC TV) Posted by Hello

“My goodness me”, certain phrase and words seem to characterize some political actors.

Even the most prolix of politicians, or so we are told, seems to be given to mannerisms. Of course, if journalists and others who accuse Beazley of this fault, should themselves on that basis use the more accessible synonyms, “wordy”, “prolonged”, and perhaps both. Beazley may indeed be drawn out, but his critics in this case are condemned by their own language, and on that basis, up themselves. They might be said to be hoisted by their own rope.

However, it is curious to hear Beazley use the word, “folk”, for people. For example, Kim Beazley was quoted by the ABC News today:

Despite being the only party member to declare an intention to stand, Mr Beazley is refusing to rate his chances. “I’m just simply in the business of asking folk to vote for me,” he said.

Folk, as its etymology confirms, is a good Anglo-Saxon word , but one unknown, or at least unusual, in general Australian speech.

Here is the Mirriam-Webster treatment of “Folk”:

Pronunciation: ‘fOk. Function: noun. Inflected Form(s): plural folk or folks. Etymology: Middle English, from Old English folc; akin to Old High German folc people.

  1. archaic : a group of kindred tribes forming a nation : <a href=”PEOPLE : the great proportion of the members of a people that determines the group character and that tends to preserve its characteristic form of civilization and its customs, arts and crafts, legends, traditions, and superstitions from generation to generation
  2. plural : a certain kind, class, or group of people
  3. folks plural : people generally
  4. folks plural : the persons of one’s own family; especially : PARENTS

The use of “folk”is perfectly understandable in the context with which Beazley uses it, but I am curious as to how Kim came to use it.

POSTSCRIPT:

In all cases of correction of myself given my many faults, I will be claiming the critics prerogative of ignorance.

KIM HAS THE JOB AGAIN January 24, 2005

Posted by wmmbb in Australian Politics.
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It is abundantly clear with the withdrawal of Kevin Rudd through lack of support in caucus, Beazley will be given the job of leading the Federal Parliamentary ALP out of the political wilderness, that it has found itself in, and made for itself.

Julia Gillard has qualities, but I do not see her getting the position. Unfortunately, the times are against her, and not solely because of her gender, but primarily because she would be seen as a risk, as a Latham mark II.

So what will Beazley make of another chance? I guess we will have to wait and see. But the ALP needs to settle down and to focus on pressuring the government on accountability and devloping alternative policies. I personally do not believe that the leadership, now settled, addresses all the ALP’s problems.

Beazley can best Howard, as he has done in the past. This encourages me to look forward to Howard’s earlier retirement from Australian politics, and not in triumph.

This government will increasingly be seen, if that is possible, to govern for the rich, while providing nonsense and palliatives for less wealthy. The Australian electorate will less suspectible to such inducements as the Americans. We will see this emerge in the sale of Telstra, in electoral reform and in taxation policy. And an Opposition with its act together will have tremendous opportunities for leverage.

KIM HAS THE JOB AGAIN January 24, 2005

Posted by wmmbb in Uncategorized.
add a comment

It is abundantly clear with the withdrawal of Kevin Rudd through lack of support in caucus, Beazley will be given the job of leading the Federal Parliamentary ALP out of the political wilderness, that it has found itself in, and made for itself.

Julia Gillard has qualities, but I do not see her getting the position. Unfortunately, the times are against her, and not solely because of her gender, but primarily because she would be seen as a risk, as a Latham mark II.

So what will Beazley make of another chance? I guess we will have to wait and see. But the ALP needs to settle down and to focus on pressuring the government on accountability and devloping alternative policies. I personally do not believe that the leadership, now settled, addresses all the ALP’s problems.

Beazley can best Howard, as he has done in the past. This encourages me to look forward to Howard’s earlier retirement from Australian politics, and not in triumph.

This government will increasingly be seen, if that is possible, to govern for the rich, while providing nonsense and palliatives for less wealthy. The Australian electorate will less suspectible to such inducements as the Americans. We will see this emerge in the sale of Telstra, in electoral reform and in taxation policy. And an Opposition with its act together will have tremendous opportunities for leverage.

SEARCHING FOR AN ANALOGY January 23, 2005

Posted by wmmbb in Duckspeak.
1 comment so far


A Nomad in Flight Posted by Hello

You may know that it is the nature of Australian wild ducks to be nomadic. They follow the rains in search of dams, river banks and duck ponds. So in many ways the screen I saw last night and this morning with the wallpaper of the site without text was appropriate to the nature of the Duckpond. I am not sure about this analogy but I will fly with it for the moment.

However, this anecdote sticks in my mind. I did not learn much from attending those lectures on Australian politics, except everything I know about the subject. Apparently, at some time during a debate in Federal Parliament a member proclaimed, “The Country Party is the backbone of the nation”, to which there was a rejoinder, as sometimes happens, called across the chamber from an opposition member, “It is a pity that the backbone ends at the neck”.

That story came to mind when I saw the headline, “Bush rings liberty bell with force”, in the Sydney Morning Herald. Somebody counted up that “liberty” was mentioned fifteen times and “freedom” said twenty-nine times in his second inauguration speech. The thing about the headline is that the actual Liberty Bell is cracked. Yes, the Liberty Bell is an important symbol, and the inscription, selected by a Quaker, does not seem at first glance, to be incongruent with the Inaugural Speech, but the bell does not ring.

Now it seems that there is a need to explain what was meant, since the mission to extend the scope of freedom and liberty does not extent to some countries, who for the moment are particular friends of the United States, such as Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, as indeed once was Iraq under the dictatorship of Saddam Hussein. Should we forget such inconvenient thoughts by double thinking them out of memory, the formulation, “Freedom is Slavery” might become appropriate. As far as I know, Jefferson and Kennedy, although his best intentions left him open to in Vietnam, for example, never had to offer such explanations of their speeches, to apply spin to rhetoric, or at least so immediately.

Juan Cole has a penetrating,and pictorial, critique of the Bush Inaugural Speech. At least the Americans do have a Bill of Rights, the criteria by which to measure their values, if not always a desire to asess their actions, it seems, in the light of those values.

We know Bush read the speech. We can be almost certain that he did not write it. It would be interesting to know what part he had in its creation.

AFTER THOUGHT: Sunday 23/01/2005

Sometimes I follow my own advice, and I was interested by the criticism of Mark Bahnisch by Al Brundy at Intemperate Thoughts. From his perspective my observations would be tendentious. On reflection, I can see there is something in that view. The test here would I have reached the same conclusion had, for example, Senator Kerry had read the same speech, however unlikely that may be.

At the same time, I did follow the links at Troppo, including the article by Shadia Drury on Leo Strauss and the neoconservatives, from which I drew the following:

It should however be pointed out that being a critic of liberalism or democracy or both does not make one automatically an enemy of America. On the contrary, freedom and democracy can only be strengthened by intellectually confronting their critics.

The Straussian philosophy hardly seems consistent with the Bush Inauguration Speech. And from this article, from a Straussian perspective, we are meant to conclude that, “War is Peace.” Perhaps, as a block of wood, I am unable to distinguish between the rhetoric, masking as philosophy and the wisdom of the ancients, or between freedom and liberty, and tyranny.

And another thing, I was of the view that neo-cons held the scriptural literalists in contempt, who I concluded were not so much anti-science,as pre-scientific. Now, this article makes clear the natural affinity, perhaps not widely recognized, between the two political movements, one religious, the other philosophical:

So, what is neoconservatism? And how does it propose to change the world in accordance with Straussian political philosophy? ‘Neo’ comes from the Greek neos, which means new. And, what’s neo about neoconservatism? Well, for one thing, the old conservatism relied on tradition and history; it was cautious, slow and moderate; it went with the flow. But under the influence of Leo Strauss, the new conservatism is intoxicated with nature. The new conservatism is not slow or cautious, but active, aggressive, and reactionary in the literal sense of the term. Inspired by Strauss’s hatred for liberal modernity, its goal is to turn back the clock on the liberal revolution and its achievements.

This article gives rises to the speculation that “the War of Terror” is a cooperative enterprise of the anti-modernists in the West and the Muslim World.

Given the above provisional conclusions, at least for my part, here is a more favorable, even flattering view of the Bush Presidency. Greg Sheridan, writing in The Australian, had, among other comments, the following to say:

The US president is the most extraordinary politician of his time anywhere in the world, and perhaps the most consequential. That is the only conclusion to drawafter the soaring rhetoric and purpose of George W Bush’s second inaugural address.”

Sheridan goes on to make the case, if such a case can be made. Most people would agree, I suspect, with the first phrase. ( the link might be available tomorrow).

POSTSCRIPT: 21/01/2005

I have had a considerable problems with errors in this post. Every time I look, I see another mistake. Sometimes I just give up.

SEARCHING FOR AN ANALOGY January 23, 2005

Posted by wmmbb in Uncategorized.
add a comment



A Nomad in Flight Posted by Hello

You may know that it is the nature of Australian wild ducks to be nomadic. They follow the rains in search of dams, river banks and duck ponds. So in many ways the screen I saw last night and this morning with the wallpaper of the site without text was appropriate to the nature of the Duckpond. I am not sure about this analogy but I will fly with it for the moment.

However, this anecdote sticks in my mind. I did not learn much from attending those lectures on Australian politics, except everything I know about the subject. Apparently, at some time during a debate in Federal Parliament a member proclaimed, “The Country Party is the backbone of the nation”, to which there was a rejoinder, as sometimes happens, called across the chamber from an opposition member, “It is a pity that the backbone ends at the neck”.

That story came to mind when I saw the headline, “Bush rings liberty bell with force”, in the Sydney Morning Herald. Somebody counted up that “liberty” was mentioned fifteen times and “freedom” said twenty-nine times in his second inauguration speech. The thing about the headline is that the actual Liberty Bell is cracked. Yes, the Liberty Bell is an important symbol, and the inscription, selected by a Quaker, does not seem at first glance, to be incongruent with the Inaugural Speech, but the bell does not ring.

Now it seems that there is a need to explain what was meant, since the mission to extend the scope of freedom and liberty does not extent to some countries, who for the moment are particular friends of the United States, such as Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, as indeed once was Iraq under the dictatorship of Saddam Hussein. Should we forget such inconvenient thoughts by double thinking them out of memory, the formulation, “Freedom is Slavery” might become appropriate. As far as I know, Jefferson and Kennedy, although his best intentions left him open to in Vietnam, for example, never had to offer such explanations of their speeches, to apply spin to rhetoric, or at least so immediately.

Juan Cole has a penetrating,and pictorial, critique of the Bush Inaugural Speech. At least the Americans do have a Bill of Rights, the criteria by which to measure their values, if not always a desire to asess their actions, it seems, in the light of those values.

We know Bush read the speech. We can be almost certain that he did not write it. It would be interesting to know what part he had in its creation.

AFTER THOUGHT: Sunday 23/01/2005



Sometimes I follow my own advice, and I was interested by the criticism of Mark Bahnisch by Al Brundy at Intemperate Thoughts. From his perspective my observations would be tendentious. On reflection, I can see there is something in that view. The test here would I have reached the same conclusion had, for example, Senator Kerry had read the same speech, however unlikely that may be.

At the same time, I did follow the links at Troppo, including the article by Shadia Drury on Leo Strauss and the neoconservatives, from which I drew the following:

It should however be pointed out that being a critic of liberalism or democracy or both does not make one automatically an enemy of America. On the contrary, freedom and democracy can only be strengthened by intellectually confronting their critics.

The Straussian philosophy hardly seems consistent with the Bush Inauguration Speech. And from this article, from a Straussian perspective, we are meant to conclude that, “War is Peace.” Perhaps, as a block of wood, I am unable to distinguish between the rhetoric, masking as philosophy and the wisdom of the ancients, or between freedom and liberty, and tyranny.

And another thing, I was of the view that neo-cons held the scriptural literalists in contempt, who I concluded were not so much anti-science,as pre-scientific. Now, this article makes clear the natural affinity, perhaps not widely recognized, between the two political movements, one religious, the other philosophical:

So, what is neoconservatism? And how does it propose to change the world in accordance with Straussian political philosophy? ‘Neo’ comes from the Greek neos, which means new. And, what’s neo about neoconservatism? Well, for one thing, the old conservatism relied on tradition and history; it was cautious, slow and moderate; it went with the flow. But under the influence of Leo Strauss, the new conservatism is intoxicated with nature. The new conservatism is not slow or cautious, but active, aggressive, and reactionary in the literal sense of the term. Inspired by Strauss’s hatred for liberal modernity, its goal is to turn back the clock on the liberal revolution and its achievements.

This article gives rises to the speculation that “the War of Terror” is a cooperative enterprise of the anti-modernists in the West and the Muslim World.

Given the above provisional conclusions, at least for my part, here is a more favorable, even flattering view of the Bush Presidency. Greg Sheridan, writing in The Australian, had, among other comments, the following to say:

The US president is the most extraordinary politician of his time anywhere in the world, and perhaps the most consequential. That is the only conclusion to drawafter the soaring rhetoric and purpose of George W Bush’s second inaugural address.”

Sheridan goes on to make the case, if such a case can be made. Most people would agree, I suspect, with the first phrase. ( the link might be available tomorrow).

POSTSCRIPT: 21/01/2005

I have had a considerable problems with errors in this post. Every time I look, I see another mistake. Sometimes I just give up.

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