Thoughts (An update)

18 December, 2006

Thoughts on a number of key current issues:

Fiji – I am tired of the Australian government and media’s handling of the Fiji situation. I believe that history will eventually show what many of us who watch the Pacific scene already know, that Laisenia Qarase’s government was corrupt and racist, and was on the cusp of freeing George Speight, the guy who ran the last coup when his business interests weren’t being served by the new Labour government in 2000. People seem to forget too quickly that the hero of that situation was none other than Commodore Frank Bainimarama, who restored order and democracy in record time considering the bizarre circumstances. In my view, he has acted honourably in this matter and with a genuine view to fixing intractable problems that the constitution and democracy have proved useless in resolving (Qarase ignored the constitution for years in refusing to allow Opposition members to sit on Cabinet). The constitution Bainimarama has suspended was decried in the West as a racist document at the time of its formation, yet now the West (including Australia and, surprisingly, New Zealand) are condemning Bainimarama’s suspension of that very constitution. Alexander Downer’s incitements to violence from the floor of the Australian Parliament under parliamentary privilege, rightly criticised by the Commodore, show a government in this country that has as much respect for the rule of law and international diplomacy as they showed during the Iraq war. I think the coup is the best thing to happen for Fiji in some time, I only hope that the Commodore can control the actions of his men. One of my friends has refused to cancel her holiday there and from recent emails, seems to be enjoying the sunshine and the hospitality, cuisine and culture of the local people.

Rudd – Kevin Rudd has so far lived up to my expectations. While I don’t agree with some of the things he is putting forward, the fact he is putting forward a solid platform of ideas and benchmarks on a range of issues across the political and economic spectrum is the most positive thing the Federal Opposition has done since it lost the 1998 election. Howard is still a skilled operator and one mustn’t underestimate him, but I think Labor is really in with a chance in 2007. My own views on politics are that no party should be in too long at any level – especially if no serious opposition exists (as in WA at present), governments have a tendency to become complacent and arrogant. It happens to both Labor and Liberal governments and is symptomatic of the increasing polarisation of Australian politics and the weaknesses of the two-party system which mean it has to be one or the other, rather than the superior European systems which, although not always granting stable majorities, are true to the people’s wishes and ensure that politicians have to listen to more than simply their own constituency in the electorate.

Iraq Study Group – This was worth a full post when it came out but I was otherwise occupied. The actual report (519k PDF) is well worth a read, but basically it says what we’ve all known for years and requires something of a backflip by Bush in order to succeed – one that I sadly doubt is forthcoming. Colin Powell‘s statement broadly in support of the ISG report, that “it’s grave and deteriorating, and we’re not winning, we are losing”, is critical, but if he wasn’t listened to when in power, all this will do is persist in convincing a largely-convinced electorate that their president is aloof and out of touch with reality.

For more on Iraq, some very interesting comments at Didge – The View From Down Under.

Palm Island – Quick one. Why should murder or manslaughter be ignored by the law because the perpetrator is a police officer and the victim is an Aboriginal not being held for any major offence? This is a day of shame for the Beattie government in Queensland.

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What does war cost? 10c a litre, says Australian politician

19 August, 2006

According to an article in the Sunday Herald-Sun’s online edition, Kevin Rudd, Australia’s shadow (i.e. opposition) foreign minister estimated that the war has cost Australian motorists between 5c and 10c a litre in higher petrol prices. This is the first time the Labor Opposition has linked higher petrol prices to the war.

The estimate was based on an estimate of US$5 to US$10 per barrel by Nobel-Prize winning economist Joseph Stiglitz, who gave an interview to Germany’s Der Spiegel magazine. In the interview, he raises many general issues related to costs of the war. Key points:

  • He estimates the war cost the US between $1 trillion and $2 trillion. This was very much greater than original US expectations – he repeats a widely held view that the White House’s assistant for economic policy, Larry Lindsey, was fired because he suggested it might cost $200 billion, but so far it has cost $500 billion. (“Bush wanted only certain information, and that’s mostly what they supplied him with.”)
  • His estimate includes “full budgetary costs to the government” which he says are “but a fraction of the costs to the economy as a whole”. He includes the cost of injury to soldiers – “17,000 so far including roughly 20% with serious brain and head injuries” – and talks about the lifetime cost of disabilities and injuries.
  • He says the US can afford it, but asks whether this is an appropriate use of funds, giving the example of Hurricane Katrina. “We could have spent trillions on research or education instead. This would have led to future productivity increases.”
  • “When demand rises, so does supply – that’s how markets usually work. Now we’re seeing that demand for oil is rising, but we’re not getting a commensurate increase in supply. And there’s a simple answer, it’s Iraq. […] The Middle East is the lowest cost producer in the world. […] Who wants to develop fields or invest in new technologies elsewhere if they know that in five years’ time, the Middle East may be supplying oil at previous prices?”
  • He sees possible sanctions against Iran as “an enormous disruption”, arguing that the world can’t afford sanctions and the poor right here will suffer.

Overall, an enlightening read.


Iraq – One year on.

9 April, 2004

First anniversary of the toppling of Saddam’s Baghdad statue, and the US is fighting a war of justification in Iraq, particularly in the cities of Baghdad, Fallujah, Kut, Najaf and Karbala. Confirmed reports coming in from Fallujah (US codename: “Operation Iron Resolve”) are that the US Marines have suffered “substantial” casualties (no reports on numbers) and at least 300 are dead, according to the local hospital. Unconfirmed radio reports say that some US troops have broken ranks and have engaged in a frenzy of attacking and raping unarmed men, women and children in parts of the city. So much for the battle between good and evil that Bush mentioned in his 2004 state of the union address. It’s beginning to sound more and more like Northern Ireland (my birthplace, for those who don’t know), where two groups of foreign-backed illegal militants fight it out with rhetoric and bombs and the people who have to live there are stuck in the crossfire, dying, hurting, suffering. Now we have previously unknown terrorists (not even related to last week’s group of previously unknown militants who are now practically running several cities) holding several unarmed civilians as hostages threatening to burn them alive for political purposes – and they’re crazy enough to actually do it too. When will this insanity ever end? 😦

George W. Bush and many in his inner circle call themselves Christians. They should start acting like Christians, whose prime commandments are to love the Lord with all their heart, mind and soul and to love their neighbour as themselves. The Bible they hold so dear (which George wants to use as the basis to ban gay marriage in the US Constitution) also says that “[Satan] comes to steal, kill and destroy”, and calls Satan the “father of lies”. I don’t know how you would describe Bush’s actions firstly in getting the presidency (via his brother and his father’s mates in Florida), then in the campaign in Afghanistan (which currently resembles 1910s China after the fall of the Qing dynasty in both the warlordism and opium production stakes), then in the leadup to Iraq, and the reasons for Iraq, and then the post-war operation of Iraq. Lying is bad enough, lying to one’s friends (UK, Australia, Spain etc) is even worse. The Spanish had enough of lies in the end and chucked out their president. I can only hope that UK, Australia and the US follow suit and end this NWO state terrorism enterprise.


Anyone else noticed this?

19 February, 2004

Interesting…

According to Internet Corporation for Assigned Names/Numbers, Iraq’s country domain is registered in Texas, the home state of George Bush. (Richardson is a NE suburb of Dallas, by the looks of things). (Update 2006: it now seems to be based in Iraq as of August 2005)

The last updated date is 13 October 2002, 6 days after Bush made the case for war against Iraq (see chronology at this site – ctrl-F for “October”)

Is there something in this or is this just another whacked conspiracy theory on my part? 😛

Speaking of which, Amazon’s recommendation service seems to have concluded that I’m a loony leftie who listens primarily to Canadian and American nu-metal.

Finally, happy birthday to three of my friends for today.


sheep and media language

1 April, 2003

I am tired of sheep on the Iraq issue. I noticed after Sep 11 a lot of people simply regurgitating the White House / CNN line on the war, without even thinking to question it. Similarly I’ve heard anti-war people who repeat the same sentences I’ve heard in the alternative media without thinking to question those either. I thought the whole point of being educated and being able to read and having the latest Internet technology in our homes was that we could research and find out for ourselves what our truth was (Seeing as we never will know the truth as all sides are biased, we can only find our own truth.) I’m strongly anti-war and believe the US administration has other reasons for fighting than noble ones, but at least I can argue my case instead of participating in this cheap and polarising sloganeering campaign that seems to be taking hold amongst the populace.

I’m also tired of several media terms which have been done to death in the coverage. I think we should introduce a financial penalty system where the journalists and networks using certain terms should be fined and the proceeds donated to the UN to cover their $2.2b shortfall for the oil-for-food program.

My list of terms which should be banned (and who to blame for their widespreadedness):

Weapons of Mass Destruction – as someone said on the BBC Talking Point program, “don’t all weapons cause mass destruction?” I mean seriously, if they didn’t, the armies should be taking them back for a refund. Besides, don’t the US own more than the rest of the world combined? We have the US administration to blame for this term’s overuse.

Hearts and Minds – Yes, let’s win the “hearts and minds of the Iraqi people” by bombing the crap out of them. We can blame the British military for this one.

Shock and Awe – Doesn’t this sound like something you’d hear at the local pub in a conversation about footy? “Oh, yeah, shock ‘n’ awe, maaate!” As it turned out, the only “shock and awe” we noticed was on the reporters’ faces. US.

Military Target – usually named after the fact. There are as many of these as al-Qa’ida deputies (Have you noticed how many deputy leaders this organisation has when Western military forces are capturing or killing them? That organisation is very top-heavy!). All sides.

Collateral Damage – Notice that if fully-trained military men are ambushed by a suicide bomber, it is “terrorism”, but if they drop bombs and kill 50 civilians (including children, presumably without full military training) who were shopping at the local market, this Gulf War relic is rolled out from the archives to describe the situation. Mainly US.

Friendly Fire – I’m sure the British and US soldiers getting killed and maimed by their own armies would disagree that the fire was, in fact, friendly in nature. It neither shows friendship, nor is it inclined to help or support, nor is it amicable in spirit, nor does it entail points in a competition (unless you happen to be a gambling Iraqi). All sides.

Embedded Media – New to this war, it refers to media who travel with the troop regiments. It was meant to be a propaganda force for the US/British forces but instead has become an information nightmare for them. For me, though, embedded media conjures up images of really tacky MIDI music on a webpage. US and British administration.

Chemical Weapons – Last time I checked, gunpowder and TNT were a mixture of chemicals. So, oddly enough, is the human body, the universe, and the NEC phone sitting on my desk, which is mostly made of different types of plastic, circuitboard, and bits of silicon and steel. Not really sure who to blame.

Regime – I have a dictatorial regime ruling over my body. It’s called a diet. Should it be eliminated? Notice how the subtle distinction between “administration” (US), “government” (allied governments or those it doesn’t want to piss off) and “regime” (obviously evil!) are played off. We don’t hear much about the Saudi or Kuwaiti regimes, though. Primarily US (although my Macquarie suggests we blame the French. Hell, why not?)

Freedom Fries/Toast – If we need any other reminders that the US (insert word here – see “regime” entry) should not be in charge of the rest of the world for want of maturity, this is it. US House of Reps Canteen & Air Force One.

Exporting Terrorism – I’m just trying to imagine how that would look on a balance of trade report.

Enough bitching for one day.


Christians in Iraq (a post I saw online)

26 March, 2003

Just a curiosity, really. Emailed to me by a Christian friend, who got it from his pastor.

Still not sure how you feel about the idea of the U.S. attacking Iraq? Some ministers are warning against military action because it could have ‘disastrous results’ for Iraqi Christians. UK minister Graham Cooke told delegates at a conference that while Saddam Hussein had no faith and was a secular politician, “Hussein allowed Christian churches to exist as a way of keeping Islam in check. You know that once he gets killed there will be a bloodbath in that nation, and every Christian in that nation will likely be killed because they are on somebody’s list right now.” Cooke added: “We need to pray for Saddam Hussein right now. No matter what you think about it, this guy is the only one standing between the church in Iran and Iraq and a bloodbath. We need that guy alive because thousands upon thousands upon thousands of people are getting saved in the country. [Bible Society]

May I add to that that Tariq Aziz, probably the most recognisable face other than Saddam’s outside of Iraq, and who has served as both Foreign Minister and Deputy President, is a Christian, as is the family he comes from. Apart from the palestinian administration, it’s one of the few places in the middle east where freedom of religion for non-muslims actually exists (it wouldn’t exist in Yemen, Saudi Arabia or Kuwait, all major US allies). An interesting thought.


:(

20 March, 2003

They’ve started bombing Baghdad. Apparently the first bombs have hit the southern suburbs.

I can’t believe my government is doing this. What made us elect such evil and immoral leaders as the ones we have in the US, Britain and Australia? Democracy seems to have been the main thing that was hijacked on September 11, and not by the hijackers – but by the conservative faction of politics, who are now starting to show their neo-fascist “ethnic cleansing” leanings.

I guess I’d hoped right to the end that democracy and, ultimately, justice and fairness would win out. This is the start of a period in world history where “diplomacy” means “war preparations” and it is a free-for-all for any nation that has a beef with any other nation.