Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Oct. 28; Memories of the First Afghan War ; 1842

The Irving press has pretty stinking papers But only part of it is by design. The rest is just natural incompetence and ignorance. For stinkers by deliberate and intelligent design, you have to turn to the supermarket tabs or, best of all, some of the British Press- like the Daily Mirror.

Google  Daily Mirror Afghanistan. One of the first stories to come up will be "We will remember them. Union Flag Lowered at Camp Bastion as Britain's war in Afghanistan finally ends". Read the speech by their commanding officer as he tells them he feels pride in all of them, that they did their job, and it is now complete.  They succeeded in defeating the Taliban in Heldmand province. The day was hailed in the Mirror as a triumph.

But it wasn't. At the cost of 13 years of fighting, the lives of 453 British soldiers, uncounted wounded, many with wounds that they will suffer for the rest of their lives, Britain lost. The Taliban still operate in strength in the province. You'd think the British, in particular, would know better.

In 1842, Britain sent some 10,000 troops plus thousands of Indian sepoys to install a puppet king in Afghanistan. Army officers travelled well in those days, so it took 60,000 camels to carry their cigars, furniture, libraries, wives. Officers also had the right to bring at least ten servants each, with as many as a hundred servants for a general's wife. Then there were some 30,000 camp followers on foot, including the usual, large number of prostitutes.

As has just happened to a British army now, they had to get out to survive. Getting out then meant  reaching  the Indian border. Thousands were killed or captured on the trek. Some of the women were released for ransom. But most were kept for servants or entertainment. Of all the others, only one man would ever reach the safety of India. It was one of the greatest disasters in British history. And the recriminations and mourning ran deep back in Britain.

Actually, nobody was ever clear on why this war had to be fought. Afghanistan was (and is) no threat to Britain. And,certainly, nobody ever was fool enough to call  it a victory.

But, today, there's a large newspaper market for fools. And the Mirror is a leader in the field. The British are quitting. After wasting 453 lives and billions of dollars. They were beaten. Thank you, Tony Blair, for sending so many to die in a war that had no reason in the first place.

But this time it will not be called a disaster. The returning soldiers will be hailed as triumphant heroes. In Canada both the Liberals and the Conservatives led us into this same war - and with the same, tragic result. All died to serve the insane dreams of those who created the disaster that American policy has been for thirteen years.

By all means, on Nov 11, remember all those who died. But also remember the irresponsible asses who sent them. And make sure they don't do it again. Patriotism means caring for all of us in this country. Patriotism does not mean sending them off to die in somebody else's wars that have no reason.

There's really not much to say about the last two days of the TandT. Neither section A has news. NewsToday, has the usual sloppy choice of whatever comes down the line. B3 for Tuesday, for example, has "Canadian election observers upbeat about Ukraine vote results". They don't mention that, because of the civil war, there was NO voting in the eastern half of the country. No wonder "our side" won. Nor did they mention that a substantial part of the vote went to neo-Naziis.

Oh, they did mention that the rich oligarchs (including the President) own the major TV stations, and use them to circulate lies and propaganda. Gee. That's just like the good, old democratic way in Canada.

But, added the Canadian observer, they all  lie and propagandize for their own interests. So that gives voters a choice of lies and propaganda. As a result, voters are informed enough to make an intelligent choice in elections.

That's what we need here. We have only one, big lying and propagandizing news network here. We just need more variety of liars.

Then there's the missing news, this in today's Halifax Herald but not in the Irving press - though it's about Irving.  According to the Auditor-General, Harper has not budgeted enough money so that he can properly overpay Mr. Irving to build 6-8 patrol ships to protect our claim to the Northwest Passage. We can build only four - and possibly only three.

Hey, what the hell, a prime minister about to face an election needs to show a budget surplus. The price to help Mr. Harper get re-elected? Well, there's all those jobs that won't be there. And the money that Nova Scotia shovelled  to Irving to get the contract for his Halifax yard. And three or four ships are not enough to do the job.

But don't worry. Only one country has challenged our claim to the passage by routinely running ships through it without permission and without even giving notice. That would be our good friend, the US. And the US doesn't give a damn how many patrol ships we build.

Then there was the annual survey from Geneva of gender salary gaps in the world. Of 142 countries, Canada came 19th. Lucky for us, most of the 142 countries are both poor and treat women as being vastly inferior to men.
But there really is nothing worth reading in either paper. So let's take a look at patriotism, lies, and history books.

We've heard recent news about patriotism and the barbarity of people who cut heads off. Okay, now check out the New York Times, "The worst is yet to come". 2/14/1993, p. 25.

In Vietnam, American troops "...had personally raped, cut off ears, cut off heads, taped wires from portable telephones to human genitals and turned up the power, cut off limbs, blown up bodies, randomly shot at civilians, razed villages in a style reminiscent of Genghis Khan, shot cattle and dogs for fun, poisoned food stocks....."

That was testimony  from one of almost a hundred and fifty veterans who testified to a US Senate committee. The speaker was John Kerry, - and,  yes, he's the same one who is now Secretary of State. He and others testified that everybody, up to the highest level of command, knew about this - and did nothing.

Remember Lt. William Calley, another Vietnam vet? He's the one who led his men into a village (which had no enemy fighters in it) and had them murder everybody - men, women, children, babies, almost 800 people. It took a long, hard fight even to get the story into the papers even though all the military high command knew about it. In fact, that sort of behaviour was routine. But eventually, Calley had to go on trial. His punishment? One night in jail.

Atrocity is not the product of twisted soldiers. It's a standard practice of almost every army there ever has been. It's quite deliberate. Terrorism is a basic strategy in war.

Canadians would never do that?  Many years ago, I attended a Canadian Senate committee to testify about a film series on Canada at War. After my testimony, I listened to a retired Canadian general who talked about Canadians murdering German prisoners. He had seen guards marching the prisoners down a road. He heard shots. Then he saw the bodies floating down a nearby river.

(The senators didn't question either of us and didn't mention us n their final report. That's because they were all Conservative senators who had been pressed by the Legion to do a hatchet job on the films.)

It happened in World War 1, as well. Good luck on finding it in a Canadian history book.

There were relatively few Japanese prisoners in WW2, and the usual explanation is that they fought to the death. But it's also true that they were commonly slaughtered after surrendering.

The images in our history books are usually pretty. giving a sense of what wonderfully good people we are. The nasty parts are left out. Most Canadians, until the 1940s, lived in vile conditions and horrible poverty. As prosperity came, we forgot that because we had never learned it in the first place. The prosperity came because well into the 50s, government kept real power to do what the voters wanted. Then, big business spread the myth that it had created our prosperity, and used that (plus money) to buy up the real power in Canada. That's why recent years have seen a rise in poverty both in Canada and the US.

And patriotism, pride in the past, is fed to us to keep us in line. The recent killings of two soldiers is Harper's big chance to finish the job. And the patriots will cheer him on.   With their slim claim to any knowledge or understanding of what Canada is and has been, they will see Harper as a true Canadian - and our corrupted private news media  will encourage them.
But,  please - to those who hail their "patriotism" as a sign of how proud they are to be Canadian ---

You can only be proud of something that you have done. I'm a Canadian because I was born here. I'm glad I was. But, really, I had nothing to do with the choice. And I know of no way in which I am genetically superior to Chinese or Yemenis or Bolivians.

Nor am I proud of the slaughter of native peoples and the theft of their land. I am not proud that Canada sent soldiers to die in the Boer War to make wealthy British mining companies richer. Nor am I proud of the way we have allowed big business to destroy our prosperity and to govern our lives. I am not proud of a prime minister who ignores the suffering of Palestinians just so he can get the Zionist vote in the next election. Nor am I proud of a government that slobbers all over Obama's boots as it agrees to fight a war that he and his predecessors created for reasons of pure greed.

Nor am I proud to be a Canadian when I hear Canadians, ignorant of their own history, go into hysteria as if patriotism (whatever they think it means) were the highest virtue.

"My country, right or wrong" But my country."  That was said by an American patriot. But it could have been said by Hitler.


  1. Thank you. I'm glad I'm not the only one that feels that way about our great, patriotic Prime Minister and our past great exercises in warring.

  2. Great post, but I do think one CAN be proud of the accomplishments of others, not just oneself. The problem is that the negatives are always glossed over. Ever notice that on remembrance day if you ever try to say stuff like this, the response is "you should do it at another time and place". Which of course means it doesn't get said at all. What you are describing accurately is simply propaganda. But while you have a list of things you aren't proud of, then its just as legitimate to have things you are proud of.

    On the war anecdotes, one of my friends is a veteran scotsman who was in the Gordon Highlanders in World War 2. One of their missions after north africa was to go to the island of Cyprus where there was a pocket of germans. Their rifles were taken, and they were told to use only their long knives-and "no prisoners were to be taken". I'm often tempted to get more details of what that must have been like, but not likely.

    As a scottish presbyterian with a girlfriend waiting at home, another memory is of american servicement-who he has/had a pretty low opinion of, lining up to visit the same italian prostitute. Those are stories we don't often get to hear about.

  3. You can be proud of accomplishments of others if you had a hand in them. So parents can be proud of children. You can be proud if you are in a close relationship with a person of accomplishment.

    But you can't be proud of being a Canadian because you had nothing to do with that connection. I am not proud of the sun. I like it. And I think it does its job well. But I'm not proud of it.

    I could, I suppose be proud of being a Canadian if Canadians were a distinct and super race. I could be proud of being rich because I consider being born rich makes me superior to other mortals. Those two are the only exceptions I can think of.

    Some of the most horrible accounts of war I've read were ones about the battle of the Somme in WW1, The fall of Singapore in early 1942. I also had the chance to go over the fighting zones of Hong Kong in late 1941 I don't see anyone who could have been there without suffering severe PTSD.

    In WW1, soldiers suffering PTSD were often executed. The British shot some 300 of their own soldiers. The French killed many more of theirs. Canada was much more lenient, but some Canadians were executed. Perhaps the worst regiment for that was the Royal 22nd in WW2. When the colonel got back from sick leave, he found it demoralized. with some actually deserting. So he started executing, and didn't stop until he felt he had cured their 'weakness'.

    No, you aren't likely to get more details on the Cyprus affair. That must have been one hell of a nerve-shattering experience.

  4. I have been proud to be Canadian but I haven't been proud of my ignorance. I'm learning to rectify both shortcomings.

  5. You are thinking of only one definition: "a feeling or deep pleasure or satisfaction derived from one's own achievements, the achievements of those with whom one is closely associated, or from qualities or possessions that are widely admired."

    The difference is the source of one's pride. The 'widely admired' part is historically portrayed as Tommy Douglas bringing us health care, or some politician bringing in equality. When its the case that Tommy Douglas would never have been heard of if he didn't have a team, supporters, got elected. Not that he did 'nothing', but my problem with pride is that the Tommy Douglas' of the world tend to get ALL the attention, while those who did the grunt work that made it reality are forgotten.

    You are right about Cyprus, it isn't even in the history books. I would think he was just senile except I've heard the story so often, and a restaurant we go to he gets free scotch because the owner is from Cyprus and his mother remembers them liberating the town.

    And just for another anecdote, its worthwhile pointing out that at late as world war 2, officers were armed, not because they were fighting, the didn't, they stood at the back and the gun was for anybody who was thinking of deserting. When a battle began, the pipes and drums were at the front, and the officers blew a whistle from the rear. Any soldier who didn't advance was shot.

    Thats the history of war, but not in the movies. I remember reading about the Jacobite rebellion in scotland. On the british side at least the men were told to advance, and to either shoot forward, or to the right or left 'if your kinsman is not moving forward as well'.

    Interestingly enough, while people talk about 'globalization' now, this battle was in the 1700's, and included the scottish highlanders on one side, while the british side also had a scottish regiment-highly composed of french and irish soldiers! Globalization seems to only mean corporate globalization today.

  6. I like your critical blogs, but wouldn't mind seeing some proactive ones as well. I just got this in my inbox, never heard of this group before, but they sent an email that apparantly Harper is thinking of springing a spring election.


    1. you're lucky. What I got in the mail is a tabloid with the headline Robert Goguen, QC, MP. It has a picture of him smirking on the front. Inside are some 18 pictures of him doing nothing in particular. And being bilingual it has the same 18 pictures of him in the French portion.

      We are almost certainly heading for a Spring election. Harper has said from the start he would always serve a full term. He was always lying. The only rule for an election is that he has to get re-elected. And it doesn't take a fortune teller to know that waiting a full term could put him in trouble.

      Being pro-active is tough in a province which is really half-illiterate, and the rest get their news from the Irving press, mostly on the sports pages and the guess whose birthday it is page.

      No informed or thinking population would ever have elected such an empty vessel as Gallant.

      Nor do I think we'll ever see that change. Big business is going to continue to bleed and exploit the people of this province. And the forces of law and order under this government will certainly be on the side of big business. They always have been.

      What will happen, I fear, is that greed and stupidity is what will destroy us, and then destroy capitalism.

      What I would hope is that such a crisis would force us to rebuild society, and along better lines. The trouble is it rarely has.

      If there is a Spring election, it is quite likely the Liberals would win; but, really, Justin Trudeau has nothing to offer. And I, too, am saddened by the drift of the NDP to the "centre". We are being pushed into a crisis that a "centre" party cannot deal with.

      Ideally, I would like the see a capitalism that operates under the law. And I would like to see an RCMP special squad in camouflage suits that would arrest them if they didn't.

      But we have a capitalism that can pay no attention whatever to the government because it can cheat us with no risk; it has "free trade" deals that put it beyond the law of any country; it owns governments so that it can gorge itself every day while the rest of us get poorer; and it can send Americans and Canadians off to war to make itself even richer.

      In the end, such a system will break down - and the breakdown may well start pretty soon.

      In fact, if Harper (or Trudeau) gets re-elected, I wouldn't bet an obsolete penny on the survival of anything we could call Canada.

      We, especially in North America, are governed not by the people we vote for. We are governed by an immoral, irresponsible, and incompetent aristocracy of business. And they are too stupid to know that an intelligent tyrant gives people enough to make them think they are being considered.

  7. What's your point with LeadNow? Most likely disinfo. Here's why.

    Yes, Harper and his band of hawkish conservative ministers are widely seen as far-right leaning war mongers, except the truth goes deeper.

    Alternatively, the Liberals are seen as left-leaning and desiring to create benevolent social programs and equality, but this is a thinly veiled deception, as they are actually for maintaining the status quo of corporate capitalism, and complete statist control combined with high taxes to fund social engineering programs designed to fully create a dependent nanny state psychosis type of mentality.

    Meanwhile the NDP are the same, and have exposed themselves by completely moving to the center ( as if they weren't always there anyway, and yes, I understand some think they're far left).
    But the left vs. right paradigm no longer means what it use to, and is now simply a charade of musical chairs.
    Same great taste, just different packaging.

    LeadNow reminds me of Avaaz who updates me with their emails as to their most recent humanitarian campaign. Avaaz really outed and exposed itself when it joined the merry bandwagon of war-mongers accusing Assad of Syria for chemical gassing his own people. Carla Del Ponte UN weapons inspector and MIT and others have already exposed the so-called evidence for this was a lie by Obama.

    Politics in Canada, is a useless shell game now as the original role of the Bank of Canada has been hijacked by private banks and private interests, and so has Canadian politics.

    Very easy to see.

  8. All that sounds like laziness to me. You probably missed the word 'lead' in 'leadnow'. If you want to sit back and do nothing but rant on blogs while the world worsens, that's your business, but there are others reading here. Black people had it far far worse in the US and they worked for civil rights. Same for feminists, same for environmentalists. If you think nobody in New Brunswick knows whats going on then stop reading the Irving news, because thats EXACTLY what he wants you to think. Realistically, New Brunswickers had precious little alternative for who to vote for, fortunately they at least voted in the person who wasn't dictatorially wrecking the environment. Who else would they vote for? Dominic Cardy who was no different than the liberals, or a refabricated COR party, or a Green Party who had no idea what they were doing?

    In either case, its usually true that younger people are the ones on the front lines trying to change the world. Over a certain age people just don't care enough. But any of the readers out there should check out leadnow if you actually want to change things, ignore it if you are a Leninist and think things have to get worse before they get better.

  9. You're so right. Don't waste time encouraging people to think. New Brunswickers already are, all of them, thinking to beat the band. That's why the letter to the editor are so stimulating.

    Funny how all these thinking New Brunswickers have so rarely produced a political party with either brains or integrity.

    Black people did work for civil rights, and much of their work was a result of the stimulation created by the ranters who did nothing but write and talk. And, of course, the leadership came from young people, kids like Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King.
    And you're right. I'm over a certain age, so I don't care enough. But you're wrong to think I believe things have to get worse before they get better. Indeed, I have never said that. Close your eyes, and think really, really hard. I said things will PROBABLY get worse. And I am not at all convinced they will get better after that.

    And perhaps you could give us a list of all the younger people who changed the world. You could begin, perhaps, with the nobility who forced King John to sign Magna Carta, the leaders of the French revolution, Then there were kids like Voltaire and the Jacobins (nah. They just ranted in pamphlets). Oh - and there was that gang of kids who hung out at Macdonald's - George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, etc.

    To say that Dominic Cardy is NO different from the Liberals is a stretch. He's too far to the right to really please me. But there is still distance between him and the Liberals.

    And, yes, it is lazy of me to write blogs, especially ranting ones. It takes me no time at all, you know; and I get big payoffs from the Irvings.

    By the way, what do you do besides write ranting letters to bloggers?


    By the way

  10. Actually, that comment was meant for the poster above my comment, not you, thought that would be pretty clear, but apparantly not.

    However, if New Brunswickers are so unenlightened,what makes you think they'd be reading your blog (since half of them are supposedly illiterate then its pretty unlikely)? And again, I've said it before, but YOU see only what Irving wants you to see. Do you think Irving prints all the letters to the editor it receives? Of course not, I and numerous others gave up even trying long ago.

    As for 'brains and integrity', why don't you go to Boston where all those brilliant MIT workers and thinkers are, who did they vote for? Oh yeah, a democrat no smarter than David Alward.

    Who did those brilliant Albertans elect, oh yeah, the same party they've had in power for 50 years. In ontario, the party that quadrupled debt and is knee deep in scandals. So if elected representatives are how you gauge intelligence, you should be ranting about the whole hemispheme, not New Brunswickers. And again, the idea that you think New Brunswickers believe what they see in the Irving rags is hysterical. NOBODY takes it seriously, for precisely the reasons you mention. Hate to see it dude, but you spend your time 'ranting' about the Irving press, something virtually NO new brunswicker takes seriously, and you are talking down to the intelligence of New Brunswickers??

    And Cardy is more right than Gallant. He's got a poster of Tony Blair in his office and has ZERO progressive policies. Like in ontario, the liberals were more NDP than the NDP was.

    You think VOLTAIRE changed the world?? Dude, clearly you ARE a teacher and grew up in that educational system that taught the 'great men' theory of the human advancement. The educational system is packed full of those ideas that it was singular men who 'did all the work'. Writing pamphlets is one thing, but it doesn't change anything, and it certainly doesn't change anything when you don't advance any way to change them. Pamphleteers talked about revolution, you guys wouldn't even pay attention to a website that gives people an opportunity to at least do SOMETHING, which answers your question about what I do besides writing ranting letters to bloggers. The average age in France during the revolution was 36, and considered old. The french revolution, like most 'wars', was fought largely by children.

    If you think the Magna Carta accomplished much except to give more power to ruthless landlords then you're kidding yourself. Serfs remained serfs for hundreds of years, its not until last century that they dug themselves out, and no Winston Churchill and Lestor Pearson-or even pampleteers didn't do it for them.

    Anyway, we've had that argument before. My point is that any readers out that that actually want to change the state of the world should check out leadnow. org and other organizations. They do a lot more than write blogs, not that that isn't important, but it doesn't change the world, it only reports on it. And we need all the people we can get, particularly blog writers who could at least maybe talk about these organizations even to criticize them so that people at least know they exist. It will certainly accomplish a lot more than ragging on Irving, who clearly doesn't care about criticism, and even gets free advertising from you.

  11. Don't make assumptions about any theories of history you think I may have taught. You have no idea what I taught. I'm actually aware who benefited from magna carta. Change does not necessarily change for something of benefit to us all. The American revolution was no benefit to Blacks - or to women or to most of the poor. Check a dictionary for the meaning of change.

    ( nor did children fight the French revolution.)

    I know the British were badly treated until the last century. Even more, I know they were badly treated through most of the last century and still are. I also know that Churchill loved the monarchy and big business, and would never have dreamed of changing that. It was the Labour Party that changed things - and Tony Blair that destroyed the Labour party. And why would you pick on Lester Pearson? Probably because you don't know much about him. He was no revolutionary. But he was the man who introduced the peace-keeper role which might have been useful if we hadn't abandoned it for love and kisses from big business, and to send troops and police to Haiti to "bring peace" to a nation that was perfectly peaceful because it had just been destroyed by the US.

    I rag on Irving? Yes. The Irvings need ragging on - and I see damn few others doing it in public.

    And for political involvement, I see less here than in any place I have ever been with the (possible) exception of China.

    As for New Brunswick's literacy, that's hardly a theory. And if New Brunswickers have contempt for the Irving press, why do they buy it? I don't see a hell of lot of other papers on the stands.

    I don't report the news. I try to make people aware of how it can be misleading and lying. I'm sorry that's not what you want me to do. But people are not going to be led by anybody unless they're more aware of what's happening. (And don't hand me the crap that all New Brunswickers are aware of the problems posed by Irving. If they are aware, then they have never shown it in any tangible way.)

    I write a blog to make more people aware of things that are hidden from them, and to point out how to recognize methods of lying. If you think it's more important to be a guide to leadership groups, start your own blog.

    Oh, yes. I know that not all letters to the editor do not get printed. I did work for forty years for newspapers, magazines, radio, and TV. (It was part-time, but a very full part-time, with radio appearances, alone, in the thousands. So I actually know what editors do.

    Unlike them, though, I always publish even self-righteous and sneering critics.

  12. Dude, speaking of self righteous and sneering, maybe check out a mirror. Like I said, I wasn't even addressing you. But then you go on to rag on stupid New Brunswickers who apparantly need your blog to know what is going on....all because you don't see them starting their own newspapers and haven't seen anything tangible, even though the only thing you read is the Irving rags.

    Ever been on facebook or these things called 'social media'? Thats where all the protest against shale gas has gone on, where people have been saying what you are now saying for YEARS. Moreover, they've also been organizing and protesting, and even managed to get a Green Party representative into government something that hasn't happened in any other province in the country, even British Columbia. No, its not much, and I suspect your going to 'sneer' down at that accomplishment because they didn't elect the communist party.

    And perhaps the reason there is so little 'activity' out there in New Brunswick is that those who reputedly 'know better than all the stupid peons' don't do anything more than write about it.

    No New Brunswicker would ever take Alec Bruce seriously, the guy is a WRITER, he's never done a days' work in an industry in his life. The idea that you are 'surprised' that he says that about shale gas??That's hysterical, you think Alec Bruce would be published in the Irving papers if he said anything else?

    Sorry that's so 'sneering', but you get what you dish out.

  13. Yes. So did you. But at least I directed my comments at things you had actually said. You just slander. I'm not a communist, never have been. I prefer socialism (which is really none of your business) But I would be interested in a capitalism in which capitalism is controlled to protect the public good.

    (In fact, I've never met anybody (including communists) who knew what the word communist meant.)

    Nor was I surprised that Bruce wrote such a column. He's a very intelligent man - and he usually stays away from a subject that could get him in trouble - so those columns are worth reading. However, guess what. I wasn't surprised because it was obvious from the start that the Irvings did not hire people of independent expression.

    As for sneering, you're the one who's done it - and you do it routinely like a cranky teacher.

    Send all the posts you like. I'll publish them. But I won't read them or respond to them.