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Alberta Politics: The tragedies we ignore: Recent Wildrose gaffe won’t end right’s bogus equivalencies in Canadian political discourse

PHOTOS: The Famine Memorial in Dublin. The Irish Potato Famine of the 1840s and ’50s is ignored in current Canadian political discourse while the Ukrainian Famine of the 1930s is frequently evoked. Both are real historical events with ideological roo… . . . → Read More: Alberta Politics: The tragedies we ignore: Recent Wildrose gaffe won’t end right’s bogus equivalencies in Canadian political discourse

The Disaffected Lib: Wait Just a Second

What’s that? All those new NATO partners in eastern Europe don’t want to defend eastern Europe?The United States is asking Canada to join with it and the Germans and Brits to constitute a rapid reaction force along the frontier with Russia.Let’s see, u… . . . → Read More: The Disaffected Lib: Wait Just a Second

Mind Bending Politics: China Defends Its Woody Which Could Kick Off WW3

It takes 3 continents at war to declare another global war, and with recent developments over the past week it looks as though we may be heading in that direction. Europe is fighting a proxy war in Ukraine against Russia, NATO is fighting in the middle east, and now China is flexing its military might in the Asia Pacific Region installing surface-to-air missile systems in and around a disputed island in the South China Sea called Woody Island. . . . → Read More: Mind Bending Politics: China Defends Its Woody Which Could Kick Off WW3

Alberta Politics: Year in review: from plunging oil to rising hope, the Top Ten news stories of 2015

PHOTOS: Cameras try to follow a nearly invisible Rachel Notley through the crowd at an Edmonton hotel on May 5, 2015, moments after she had been declared the winner of the Alberta election. No one could quite believe that the NDP had just won a majorit… . . . → Read More: Alberta Politics: Year in review: from plunging oil to rising hope, the Top Ten news stories of 2015

Akaash Maharaj - Practical Idealism: National Post: NATO and the Judgement of Paris

The lessons of Afghanistan were purchased at a bitter cost: the war claimed more lives, more years, and more money than any other campaign in NATO’s history. Unless the alliance takes those lessons to heart, a war in Syria and Iraq to extinguish D… . . . → Read More: Akaash Maharaj – Practical Idealism: National Post: NATO and the Judgement of Paris

Akaash Maharaj - Practical Idealism: Addressing the NATO Parliamentary Assembly

Being at the table during deliberations on war, peace, and the fate of nations was an extraordinary experience. I remember seeing the Berlin Wall fall, and hoping that the age of global warfare might be over. That moment now feels far away. We are clearly facing terrible risks, and it will take great statesmanship . . . → Read More: Akaash Maharaj – Practical Idealism: Addressing the NATO Parliamentary Assembly

Pushed to the Left and Loving It: Why Stephen Harper and Thomas Mulcair Have Got it so Wrong on ISIS


Recently the Toronto Star posted a piece on Thomas Mulcair and the fight against ISIS:  Mulcair Would Pull Canada From U.S. Led Mission in Mid-East if Elected.

This is a big mistake, not only politically, but from a humanitarian angle.  There is no argument that George Bush’s ill-conceived war in Iraq, or in fact the decades of invasions in the region, gave rise to ISIS; but abandonment is not the answer.

As part of his reasoning, Mulcair claims that this is neither a NATO nor a UN mission, but he is wrong. Nato is involved and were involved in most, if not all, engagements in the Middle East.  The United Nations has resolved to stop the flow of money and arms going to ISIS, but many of the arms they are using, are those left by the Americans

And the NATO missions that Mulcair is promoting, have destabilized regions, making them ripe for terrorist takeover.  You can be a pacifist and oppose war, but if you support any war, you are no longer a pacifist. His stand is a bit confusing.

As to stopping the flow of money going to ISIS that too will be difficult.  The west has been bombing oil refineries, one source of revenue, and some nations are refusing to pay ransoms, and yet the organization is still able to pay their bills, as well as provide money to run, according to the Economist, “services across the areas it controls, paying schoolteachers and providing for the poor and widowed.”

We run the risk of further alienating the occupied, if ISIS can blame the west for not being able to take care of the people.  We need to stop bombing, but we can’t just leave.  Humanitarian aid and training is still necessary.

Radicalization and NDP Naivete

When Stephen Harper announced that he would stop Canadians from travelling to countries engaged in “terrorist” activities, Mulcair said he would support the initiative, but questioned whether it would help in the fight against “terrorism”.  He went on to say that C-51 did not do enough to combat the “radicalization of youth”.

This was actually a topic for debate in the Commons, as the NDP tried to push through an amendment to C-51, reading in part, that the Bill “…does not include the type of concrete, effective measures that have been proven to work, such as providing support to communities that are struggling to counter radicalization.

What communities do they mean?

I rarely agree with anything Peter Van Loan says, but he did raise the issue that it was “ill defined”.  Do they mean Muslim communities?  Peter Julian had this to say:

The mosque that is in my riding in Burnaby—New Westminster was the mosque the man who murdered Cpl. Nathan Cirillo attended. I travelled to that mosque within a couple of days of what happened on October 22 here on the Hill. What the mosque members told me was quite stark. They said that they knew he had profound mental illness. They knew that he had a drug addiction. They tried to seek help, and there was nothing available. This is something we have heard from communities right across the country.

It sounds like the issue is more about mental illness and drug addiction, issues that are discussed in many places, and not confined to Mosques.  It would appear that the NDP believe, like the Conservatives, that terrorism is associated with Islam.  This is not only Xenophobic but incorrect.  While the Islamic State is using the religious angle, their motives are not religious, but political.

According to Huffington Post, Yusuf Sarwar and Mohammed Ahmed, the two Brits who went to Syria to join the rebels, first purchased off Amazon, two books:  Islam for Dummies and The Koran for Dummies  They were not devout Muslims.  Nor were the 9/11 hijackers who reportedly used cocaine, drank alcohol, slept with prostitutes and attended strip clubs, but never belonged to a mosque. 

A 2008 report published in the Guardian, dispelled the stereotypes of those who become involved in terrorism:   “ They are mostly British nationals, not illegal immigrants and, far from being Islamist fundamentalists, most are religious novices. Nor, the analysis says, are they “mad and bad”. and “Far from being religious zealots, a large number of those involved in terrorism do not practise their faith regularly.”

Didier François, a French journalist who was held by Isis in Syria for ten months before being released in April 2014, has provided some insight into the life of those fighting for ISIS, in a CNN interview.

“There was never really discussion about texts.  It was not a religious discussion. It was a political discussion.  It was more hammering what they were believing than teaching us about the Quran. Because it has nothing to do with the Quran. We didn’t even have the Quran. They didn’t want even to give us a Quran.”

This is a political movement, not a Jihad one.  President Obama has been trying to stress that, but his words are falling on deaf ears. I often learn a lot by reading the comments section of media reports, and in one, there is a debate between two readers.  One was trying to stress that all terrorists are Muslim but their opponent fired back by saying: “Christians are also terrorists.  They just call it ‘shock and awe'”.

It is not religion that is fuelling this war, it’s war itself.

The Radicalization of Youth Has Little to do With Communities

Al Jazeera also published the results of a study, defining the risk factors for  violent radicalization:  Youth, wealth and academia appear to predispose individuals to sympathizing with acts of terrorism.

Perhaps surprisingly, religious practice, mental health, social inequality and political engagement were not significant factors.

“We’re offering a new paradigm for sympathies as an early phase of radicalization that can be measured,” Kamaldeep Bhui, the study’s lead author and a cultural psychology professor at the university, told Al Jazeera. 

While just 2.4 percent of people expressed some sympathy for violence overall, researchers found that those under the age 20, those in full-time education rather than employment, and those with annual incomes above $125,000 were more prone to express sympathy for violent protests and “terrorism.”

The attack on Parliament Hill was perpetrated by a mentally ill, homeless man, but mental illness is a separate issue, just as drug addiction and homelessness are.

“One explanation for homegrown terrorism in high-income countries is that it’s about inequality-related grievances,” Bhui said in a phone interview. “We were surprised that [the] inequality paradigm seems not to be supported. The study essentially seemed to show that those born in the U.K. consistent with the radicalization paradigm are actually more affluent or well off.” 

Two other findings stood in conflict with prevailing stereotypes about so-called homegrown terrorism in the West: Immigrants and those who speak a non-English language at home, as well as those who reported suffering from anxiety or depression, were less likely to express sympathy for terrorist acts.

If we really want to “stop the flow”, we need to stop invading countries, and taking part in “regime changes”, simply because they are not willing to conduct business on our terms. Many of the sympathizers are well educated, and intelligent enough to know that there have been grave injustices committed, while society at large blames the victims.  Who are the “terrorists”?

I agree with supporting “at risk” communities, dealing with poverty and youth unemployment, but that will not stop terrorists.  As studies have found, they are not poor, uneducated or unemployed and rarely religious.  In fact, the stereotypical description of radicalized youth, are often the ones who believe that all terrorists are Muslims.

That’s where we have to “stop the flow”.  Misinformation.

. . . → Read More: Pushed to the Left and Loving It: Why Stephen Harper and Thomas Mulcair Have Got it so Wrong on ISIS

Pushed to the Left and Loving It: Why Stephen Harper and Thomas Mulcair Have Got it so Wrong on ISIS

Recently the Toronto Star posted a piece on Thomas Mulcair and the fight against ISIS:  Mulcair Would Pull Canada From U.S. Led Mission in Mid-East if Elected. This is a big mistake, not only politically, but from a humanitarian angle.  There is no argument that George Bush’s ill-conceived war in Iraq, or in . . . → Read More: Pushed to the Left and Loving It: Why Stephen Harper and Thomas Mulcair Have Got it so Wrong on ISIS

The Disaffected Lib: Austerity’s Silver Lining – Arms Race Update

A couple of headlines this morning got me thinking that the West’s embrace of austerity might not be all bad.  Of course it’s probably just wishful thinking.

The first article concerns a refreshingly nuanced and balanced lecture delivered by former US ambassador to Russia, Jack Matlock.

In a lecture at King’s College London, Jack . . . → Read More: The Disaffected Lib: Austerity’s Silver Lining – Arms Race Update

The Disaffected Lib: Let’s Ditch the Cowboy Act

Modern, high-tech warfare is putting many nations in an increasingly offensive military posture. The controversial F-35 is a perfect example. Despite what we’re told, the F-35 is not a fighter jet. It’s a light attack bomber, an inherently offensive, first-strike weapon.  One American general, by way of defending the F-35, called it his “kick . . . → Read More: The Disaffected Lib: Let’s Ditch the Cowboy Act

The Disaffected Lib: Whacking Iran – Maybe Sooner Than You Might Think – The Warmonger Digest, vol. 2

It’s reported that the Saudis have given Israel a green light to overfly Saudi Arabia should Netanyahu decide to launch an attack on Iran.

Jerusalem and Riyadh do not have diplomatic ties, but unconfirmed reports have swirled for years of coordination between them against the common enemy of Iran, a partnership that may . . . → Read More: The Disaffected Lib: Whacking Iran – Maybe Sooner Than You Might Think – The Warmonger Digest, vol. 2

The Disaffected Lib: Germany Alarmed at NATO’s (and America’s) Ginned Up Claims on Ukraine

A Warmonger and a Fearmonger

Angela Merkel thinks that Germany (and the rest of the West) is being conned by NATO and the U.S. inflating the Russian threat to the Ukraine.

General Philip Breedlove, the top NATO commander in Europe, stepped before the press in Washington. Putin, the 59-year-old said, had once again “upped . . . → Read More: The Disaffected Lib: Germany Alarmed at NATO’s (and America’s) Ginned Up Claims on Ukraine

Cowichan Conversations: Why Is the West Spoiling for a Fight with Russia?

At a time where the commercial media, or much of it, serves to whip up hysteria over challenges from ISIS, the so called aggressive actions of Putin and other US/Nato driven issues we can be grateful for the internet, bloggers and social media.

Murray Dobbin’s articles would get short shrift today by most media outlets . . . → Read More: Cowichan Conversations: Why Is the West Spoiling for a Fight with Russia?

The Disaffected Lib: Bangin’ that Old War Drum, Again.

Maybe it’s because they’re still smarting from getting their asses handed to them in Iraq and Afghanistan, maybe not.  Either way it’s getting a bit embarrassing listening to Western military leaders banging the war drums over Russia.

NATO, especially, is sounding the alarm of an all-out shooting war with the Kremlin.  The Russians . . . → Read More: The Disaffected Lib: Bangin’ that Old War Drum, Again.

The Disaffected Lib: Are We Really Willing to Go To War over Ukraine?

Would you be okay if it was your kids in uniform going off to a shooting war with the Russians over Ukraine?

The whole idea seems fantastic, ridiculous.  We tend to dismiss it as unimaginable but giving it short shrift can be lethal.

Earlier this week three words caught my attention – “une guerre . . . → Read More: The Disaffected Lib: Are We Really Willing to Go To War over Ukraine?

The Disaffected Lib: Banging the War Drums

If you thought you had heard the last of insanely bellicose Anders Fogh “Foggy” Rasmussen when his term as NATO secretary-general lapsed, you were wrong. He’s back and he’s talking war again.

“This is not about Ukraine. Putin wants to restore Russia to its former position as a great power,” he told The Telegraph.

“There . . . → Read More: The Disaffected Lib: Banging the War Drums

The Disaffected Lib: The New Frontier is the Russian Border

Think of it as the new equivalent of the East German-West German border.  It was across that border that NATO (i.e. US) and Warsaw Pact (i.e. Soviet) forces glared at each other, constantly ready to leap into what probably would have been global annihilation.

We’ve moved the line.  It’s now the border of . . . → Read More: The Disaffected Lib: The New Frontier is the Russian Border

The Disaffected Lib: Vlad Putin – NATO’s Essential Enemy

Vlad Putin has given NATO – well, nothing less than a reason to exist a little longer.

With the collapse of the Soviet Union, NATO was a headless chicken, running around aimlessly, still on its feet but just.  The North Atlantic alliance pretty much took whatever gig it could get.

NATO bombed Serbia to . . . → Read More: The Disaffected Lib: Vlad Putin – NATO’s Essential Enemy

Alberta Diary: The PM’s Christmas Message reimagined: What are Canadians willing to do about our most dangerous Arctic enemy?

The so-called Santa Claus, a militant socialist leader who poses a serious threat to Canada’s national security, lights up a cheap Russian cigarette and relaxes after persuading a group of Canadian children unschooled in Austrian economics to give up the benefits of the free market for socialist dependency on government handouts. Below: the . . . → Read More: Alberta Diary: The PM’s Christmas Message reimagined: What are Canadians willing to do about our most dangerous Arctic enemy?

drive-by planet: Risk of ‘accidental’ nuclear war: Chomsky on the ‘worst case scenario’

Chomsky on the threat of nuclear war

It’s hard to imagine a scenario in which any world power would deliberately start a nuclear war given the dire consequence for the planet. Rational thinking and the will to survive prevents us from believing that any nation… any leader… could be crazy enough to intentionally unleash what could wind up being a terminal war of reciprocal destruction. But what is often overlooked is the increasing likelihood that a nuclear war might well be started by accident.

During a recent RT interview Noam Chomsky addressed this possibility:

The worst-case scenario, of course, would be a nuclear war, which would be terrible. Both states that initiate it will be wiped out by the consequences. That’s the worst-case. And it’s come ominously close several times in the past, dramatically close. And it could happen again, but not planned, but just by the accidental interactions that take place – that has almost happened. It’s worth remembering that just one century ago, the First World War broke out through a series of such accidental interchanges. The First World War was horrifying enough, but the current reenactment of it means the end of the human race.

Chomsky’s reference to a nuclear war begun ‘by accident’ makes sense when you look at how this might come about. An escalation factor might be faulty intelligence, leading for example to a mistaken belief that the other side is planning an imminent nuclear strike. The decision may then be taken to use tactical nuclear weapons in order to seize first-strike advantage. Underlying intelligence failure of this sort could be a more general strategic misreading of the enemies’ intent and other communications failures that fuel a pattern of escalation.

A report entitled Towards a Grand Strategy for an Uncertain World: Renewing Transatlantic Partnership lays out a new vision for the NATO alliance. It contains a number of statements that confirm the importance of nuclear weapons “in the quiver of escalation”… ostensibly to prevent “existential dangers.” But in fact their use is also clearly about maintaining a winning edge however couched in the language of prevention, as this statement from the report suggests:  “What is needed is a policy of deterrence by proactive denial, in which preemption is a form of reaction when a threat is imminent, and prevention is the attempt to regain the initiative in order to end the conflict.” Tactical nuclear weapons are very much a part of any so-called “proportional” response. This scenario opens the door for all kinds of potential disaster.

Tactical or non-strategic nuclear weapons are now part of the toolkit of the world’s major militaries. These weapons can be calibrated to suit the challenges on hand. Variable yield allows operators to set the weapons’ explosive power in consideration of target and conditions. Small-yield tactical nukes might encourage preemptive strikes especially if a conventional force is facing defeat. They may be used in other ways to seize the advantage. Under war conditions the step from tactical to strategic nuclear weapons might not be such a huge leap, especially on the part of a military staring down the barrel of defeat.

Bottom line, our continued use of these weapons raises the ante when it comes to the prospects of large scale nuclear war. Chomsky sums up the stark choice we face in this paragraph:

We can think back as far as 1955, when Bertrand Russell and Albert Einstein produced an appeal, a joint appeal to the people of the world, in which they said to all of us, you have a choice that is stark, unavoidable, the question is, will you eliminate war or will you eliminate human race? These are your choices.

Right now we are making bad choices. The provocations of the West in Eastern Europe and the expansion of NATO’s reach to the borders of Russia is fraught with risks that can’t be taken lightly. Chomsky rightly characterizes NATO as a “US-run intervention force.”

The official mission of NATO became to control the international, the global energy system, pipelines. That means, to control the world. Of course, its [a] U.S.-run intervention force, as in Kosovo and Serbia in 1999 – it was a U.S.-run intervention force. That’s the new NATO and it did expand to Russian borders…

The demonization of Russia in Western media and the toxic cold war-like environment that is being whipped up is driven by geopolitical ambitions, energy and resource considerations and a very particular animus toward a major global power that is unwilling to alter its long held values and traditions. This offends some people, who over and above the larger geopolitical considerations, appear willing to risk heightening an already tense situation in the course of pressing a Western-centric rights agenda.

. . . → Read More: drive-by planet: Risk of ‘accidental’ nuclear war: Chomsky on the ‘worst case scenario’

drive-by planet: Dangerous logic

. . . → Read More: drive-by planet: Dangerous logic

Alberta Diary: Six things we all need to think about when Canadians volunteer to fight for the Kurds

The Kurds: They should have had a country of their own, but since they don’t, and since Canada is allied by treaty to one of their principal enemies, letting Canadians join their fight isn’t a simple matter. We need clarity on just what Canada’s position is from the Canadian government. Below: Dillon Hillier . . . → Read More: Alberta Diary: Six things we all need to think about when Canadians volunteer to fight for the Kurds

The Disaffected Lib: Sh_t Pravda Says

Ah, Pravda, the legendary propaganda agency of the Soviet Union, is back at it, merrily thrashing about in its favourite Cold War wading pool.

Articles such as, “Russia takes complete advantage of castrated Armed Forces of the West,” or, “Russia prepares nuclear surprise for NATO,” or, “Modern Day America, One Step Away from the . . . → Read More: The Disaffected Lib: Sh_t Pravda Says

drive-by planet: Risk of ‘accidental’ nuclear war: Chomsky on the ‘worst case scenario’

It’s hard to imagine a scenario in which any world power would deliberately start a nuclear war given the dire consequence for the planet. Rational thinking and the will to survive prevents us from believing that any nation… any leader… could be crazy enough to intentionally unleash what could well wind up being a . . . → Read More: drive-by planet: Risk of ‘accidental’ nuclear war: Chomsky on the ‘worst case scenario’

drive-by planet: Dangerous logic