Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Nov. 25: It's way to early to make guesses about Turkey.

The news from both sides after the downing of a Russian jet by Syrian aircraft is not only biased as it comes from  both sides; it's also very confusing.

For bias, I notice that many western sources, especially American ones, felt it necessary to say in their reports that Russia has a habit of flying into the air space of other countries. I have news, kiddies. Many countries have a habit of flying into the air space of other countries. Certainly, Russia has done it. But the world champ is the U.S. Just in the last few years, it has flown drones over other countries - not only flying over, but killing.  Nobody knows how many other countries because our press in not interested in publishing that. But it is generally recognized that the the U.S. killed thousands of people by drones, with the majority of victims being civilians.

As well, Turkey has committed a war crime - though I haven't seen that mentioned in the western press. It has mentioned that Turkish ground fire killed one of the Russian pilots as he was parachuting to earth. What it  hasn't mentioned is that such a killing is a war crime.

There's also a very confusing element in our news. Reports in the press vary a bit. But all seem to agree that the time the Russian jet was in Turkish air space (if it actually was in Turkish airspace) was 9 to 17 seconds.

I haven't seen a report that expressed puzzlement about that. But let's see...

Turkey said it radioed 10 warnings to the Russian jet. Then they shot it down.

Ten radio warnings and the shooting in, tops, 17 seconds. Those Turks must talk really, really quickly.

But we should not waste time pinning the blame on anybody because this incident is really  the result of a middle east that has been de-stabilized for a century, going back at least to the very romantic Lawrence of Arabia. And no 'country' can be blamed for a century of murdering, manipulating, and destablizing the millions who live in the middle east, and the millions who have been fleeing it since oil was discovered. The blame goes to a small number of extremely greedy and amoral people in the oil industry.

The U.S. created a rebellion in Syria. The purpose was to get rid of Sadat because he was too friendly with Russia.  The rebels, though well supplied by the US and others, could not overthrow Sadat.

At the same time and earlier, a great many Muslims had become enraged at U.S. attacks and massive slaughter in Muslim countries - like Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya... and they remember the same treatment by Britain and France. So they formed resistance groups, often based on elements of Islam that took extreme forms. That's a common reaction to invasion by a foreign religion.

And they used terrorism. Of course. All armies use terrorism. In any case, the new groups were in no condition to launch conventional wars against Britain and the U.S. And where did they learn the techniques of terrorism?

Much of it was taught to them by the CIA when they needed US advice and help in stopping a Russian invasion of Afghanistan. Al Quaeda, in particular, was a direct product of CIA training in  Afghanistan.

When ISIS made its appearance, the U.S. had mixed feelings about it. Obviously, it could be a threat to the U.S. But - maybe it could do what the Syrian rebels couldn't do - destroy Sadat.

Accordingly, the U.S. was remarkably gentle with ISIS. It did not interfere when ISIS rolled huge convoys of oil trucks all the way across Syria to Turkey.
(It even admitted it knew when it said it feared bombing because innocent people might be killed. Pu-leeze. This is the U.S. that had no problem in killing millions of innocent civilians in Vietnam, Iraq, Libya....)

The oil was then transported across Turkey in a deal that seemed to be managed by the son of Turkish President Erdogan. It then went to market, producing millions for ISIS to fight its war. (Gee. I wonder who bought it.) As well, ISIS was openly financed and supplied with weapons by Saudi Arabia. And there is some evidence it was also helped by the U.S.

The U.S. did not change its nice-niceness to ISIS until Russia intervened. (Putin has his own, oil billionaires to care for.)  When Russia destroyed most of the ISIS oil traffic in a matter of days, the U.S. had to destroy a few trucks to show it was against ISIS. But it gave the truckers a forty-five minute warning.

That's how we got here. But where we go from here is anybody's guess. But I hope it's settled within the coming year - before the U.S. gets a new president.
If it isn't settled before the U.S. election, then it doesn't matter who wins - Clinton or Trump or any other (with the exception of Bernie Sanders) - we will all be in real trouble.
In local news, the only story worth reading is that we might start getting refugees in New Brunswick within a week. I'm glad to hear it. I'm sorry we have to wait that long.

Well, some people might get excited by the big story about how it's time to buy stuff like tires and shovels for the winter. An ace reporter covers that one, with photos.  Would it break the bank to send a reporter around to find out where Justin Bourque got his guns to kill three RCMP officers? And, perhaps, to research a piece about out gun laws and why they permit the sale of guns designed to appeal to people to want to make themselves feel powerful and dangerous? Then there's the question of the shooting range he shot at. Where is it? What laws govern it?
It's a day to remember on the opinion and commentary pages. The editorial writer and Norbert Cunninham both  have useful and well-reasoned columns. The same page also has a superb letter to the editor, "Let's show some care for the Karing kitchen."

Usually, I detest commentary columns written by politicians. Usually, I think they're just cheap 'fillers' as that sort of thing is called in the business. But today's is an exception. It's by Sherry Wilson, the Conservative opposition critic for rural affairs. It's about the neglect and even destruction of rural New Brunswick. Neither Conservatives not Liberals have anything to brag about on the issue. But ms. Wilson at least makes a case for dealing with it.

Alec Bruce is excellent on the energy future for this province. I was a little nervous about where he was going until almost the end. But he came through in great style.

Brian Cormier's column?  - well, this is something to read if you're very, very lonely, and nobody ever talks to  you.

Just above Cormier's column, as there is just about every day above that column spot is a large photo. And, as usual, it adds nothing to the column below it - which also usually says nothing. So why is the photo there?

Because it fills space, and it's cheap. It's a sort of pictorial motto for the attitude of the Irving press toward its readers.

But we live in a world that extends quite far beyond our own navels. What happens in that world matters to us just as much as, say, the announcement of a Moncton men's wear store that it is changing its location. It's perhaps even more important than today's headline story, "Dieppe proposes property-tax hike".

Victoria Park has a display of all the names of people from this city that we sent to die in the rest of the world that we knew nothing about. Then we repeated it in Afghanistan. Now we're doing it in Iraq with our air force.

For the Boer War, World Wars One and Two, for Korea, for Afghanistan, for Libya, and now in Iraq, few Canadians and fewer young men in their teens knew what those wars were about.  Then, as now, our news media supplied us largely with propaganda. In 1941, we sent some 2,000 young men, many not yet in their twenties, to defend Hong Kong. Many were untrained or little trained. Their weaponry was, to put it kindly, limited. They never had a chance.

They fought hard. But Hong Kong had to surrender. That happened on Christmas day of 1941. Over 250 Canadians were killed, and 500 wounded. They had fought, virtually, to the death. Another 250 would die of starvation and abuse in concentration camps. Those who survived to the end of the war had suffered mental and physical damage that would plague what was left of their lives.

I met many of them. When I was a child, I knew one of them as a scoutmaster who ran a troop with my father. His health would never recover. Even a kid could see that. He told me only a bit about it. But it was obvious that he had known nothing about Hong Kong when he joined up. Nor did most of the others. Nor did most of them know what the fighting was about, and they couldn't have found Hong Kong on a map. How could they? Most were young, and had never finished high school.

Nor could their parents tell them much. After all, the news fed them nothing but propaganda - and it was commonly considered bad form (as it is now in New Brunswick) to discuss what's going on in the world - and it was considered shameful to have your own ideas about what was going on.

The key  to understanding world events (and how they affect us) is not news. It's analysis - opinion columns, comment columns. The Irving press used to have a superb columnist in Gwynne Dyer. He would be a lot more useful on the commentary page than that damfool photo that appears every day taking up a huge space on the page.

We need analysis, comment, opinion to grasp the meaning of what is happening in the world. We need to know that before we send more teens to die. We need it every day. We even need more than one a day. I know it's cheap and profitable to fill empty space with staff writers who have nothing to say. But it's no help to the reader.

News stories tell us what is happening. That's all they do; (and they don't usually do even that truthfully). We need to know why they are happening, and how they affect us.

The story of the Russian jet that was shot down did get into page B1. Knowing about that and  understanding it is something that could well mean life or death for us. I should have thought that would be the A1 page headline. But it didn't even make the headline in world news.

The big world news story on p. B1 is that Canada's refugee resettlement plan has changed. Almost as prominent is yet another story about the Oland trial.

Yemen, where Saudi Arabia is killing thousands with American bombs and cooperation, never seems to make the news at all. And there's very little, ever, on Asia where most of the world lives.

Nor is there much about the Canadian pilots who are risking their lives in Iraq.
Why are they there? Why has Trudeau decided to bring them home? Why are we bombing ISIS when the U.S., itself, has been going light on the bombing? (Russian bombing achieved more in a couple of weeks than U.S. bombing has since the start.) And if we're bringing them home, what aren't we doing it now?

The Irving news desperately needs Gwynne Dyer, and it just as desperately needs a real, foreign news editor, someone with an understanding of the world. And it would take just one of each to meet the needs of all the Irving papers.
Now, for your assigned reading...

Try this from Pepe Escobar. He writes for news media owned by the Russian government (RT) and by the Chinese government Xinhua (New China Agency). Both of those follow the government line, though Xinhua journalists have gained more freedom than they had when I was last in China.

It's fair to say that these are intended to be propaganda. But what makes them different from say. Free Europe, is they use the truth. They're selective in which truth they choose to tell - but they do tell the truth. Within those qualifications, I've found that Escobar usually makes sense.

This one is about China's plans for its place in the world. It plans to replace the US as the dominant economic power. It's quite possible that China will do it - and soon. And if it does, that is very bad news for the hopelessly over-valued American dollar and the heavily indebted U.S. economy. And that might explain the recent confrontation between China and the U.S. (The latter is my thought, not Escobar's.)

Xinhua looks and reads much like a big, western newspaper. But it's worth a look to get some different points of view - and some great photos of China.

Then there's the following on drones, how they affect their 'pilots', and how the majority of those killed are ordinary civilians and children.
There's lots of news the Irving press misses while carrying lots of garbage we could do without.

And remember. The rest of the world is no longer far away. It's right here with us on this same Earth.



  1. Graeme: Excellent post about the Turkish downing of the Russian plane.

    Just a minor detail: I think you mean "Assad", President of Syria, not "Sadat" (you were probably thinking of Anwar Sadat, the former President of Egypt).

    Yep, 17 secs. seem way too brief a time for ground control to have warned the Russian plane 10 times, repeat an order to the Turkish pilot to shoot down the plane, and for the missile system to lock and engage and finally destroy the plane.

    Besides, it likely violated standard NATO procedures of warning an unidentified aircraft: there was apparently no visual contact and no attempt to force the alleged offending Russian plane to land before the missile was fired.

    The act was likely premeditated, as Putin claimed, with the Turkish pilot already being preauthorized to shoot down the Russian plane.

    And the reason was likely because the Russians were bombing the Turkmen militia in Syria who were supported by the Turkish government as they were foes of Assad.

  2. When I was just a boy, I learned that my father had been a bomber pilot in WWII. I would wake from nightmares of being bombed into a black void of death. Looking at the photographs of drone pilots is like looking at my father. And looking in the mirror.

  3. You're right . I meant Assad. We should force all them there ayrabs to take English names. It's the Christian thing to do.

  4. You're right . I meant Assad. We should force all them there ayrabs to take English names. It's the Christian thing to do.