Saturday, April 2, 2016

April 2: a child in Yemen. And you and me.

Yesterday evening, I watched BBC News.  It opened with some of the most dreadful footage I have ever seen. It was of the children of Yemen, one of the poorest countries in the world. There was a picture of a baby with the hideous facial bloating and the dead eyes that can come from malnutrition. There was a boy of 9 or 10. His eyes were dead. His body was very thin and hideously scarred - as were his legs which were also twisted, crippled    - and will be for the rest of his life.

I saw a school class - in a school missing most of it walls and ceilings. The children, perhaps of grade 5 or so, were unnaturally thin and small; and their eyes had the deadness of the scarred and twisted boy I  had just seen.
One told of the bombs that had fallen the night before, destroying an outer wall of his home, killing his grandfather and two uncles who lived with him. These are the children of Yemen.

They, and their parents, are deliberately being starved and bombed to death. Their medical supplies have long been cut off by Saudi Arabia and the U.S. Their hospitals are death traps. The U.S. supplies the bombs, many tons of them cluster bombs that will go on killing after most of those chldren dead. The bombers are assisted by U.S.  drones that have, for years, been bombing Yemen, guided by just-pretend pilots in safe and distant rooms - and who will be honoured every year for their gallant service to their country. There are also medals for these heroes of the skies who never leave the ground.

These heroes are assisted in their work by the  generous British and French manufacturers  who supply weapons to Saudi Arabia. And by Canada. And that is  curious because the U.S., Britain, France and Canada have all, long ago, signed an agreement not to supply weapons to countries with bad human rights records. And Saudi Arabia has one of the worst records in the world.
Remember that the next time you see that nice Mr. Trudeau schmoozing with President Obama and smiling for the cameras. He is the man who refused to cut off our weapons sales to the Saudis. (Don't he and his wife look just lovely on TV? I'll bet the children of Yemen would be impressed.)

We are watching (and taking part in) what could be a slaughter of millions of the poorest people on earth. And even the survivors will scarcely be human, physically or mentally, for the rest of their lives. Watch for the latest developments in the Irving press. (But be patient. It hasn't mentioned Yemen more than two or three times so far this year. And it has never told us what this war is about or why Canada is supporting it.)

But, oh, did you see that wonderful picture of Justin Trudeau doing a yoga exercise? It makes me so proud to be a Canadian.
And, in all the stories about 'terrorist' attacks in Paris and Brussels and others, have you ever seen a report that gave a reason for the attacks?

Oh, I know, it's because Muslims are evil.

Well, maybe, but even evil people have reasons for what they do.

Our side had reasons for the terror bombing of Germany in world war two. Our terror bombing was that bombing aimed quite deliberately at residential areas. It was repeated in Laos,  Cambodia, Korea - and others. The purpose of it was to kill so many civilians that normal functions of the society became impossible, creating fear, hysteria, social breakdown. General Curtis Lemay called it "bombing them back into the stone age".

Obviously, that worked. But it worked only because of massive and intense bombings by very large air forces.

What we now call 'terror bombings' are neither massive nor intense. The worst, by far, was 9/11. But the there was never the slightest possibility that 9/11 would defeat the U.S. Any such defeat would require resources far, far beyond the capacities of any present day 'terrorist group'.

Terrorist bombings in Brussels, Paris, London and other cities could and did create fear and hysteria. But there was never a possibility they would defeat Belgium, France or Britain. To do that would require at least a half million suicide bombers for each of those countries - something far beyond the capacity of any nation to do, not to mention the difficulties of slipping half a million suicide bombers into each country.

Terrorism can be a factor in winning a war, but only with the addition of a very powerful. conventional military behind it. And even that may not work. The U.S. in Vietnam put on the greatest show of terrorism in history - combined with a massive superiority in military forces and equipment ---and it still lost.

No. Terrorism does not win wars all by itself. And terrorists have been well aware of that for at least fifty years. They learned that during the Russian invasion of Afghanistan  when the CIA was training Taliban terrorists.
So what are these terrorist attacks all about? We're not finding out from our news media because most of them are interested only in spreading fear and hatred. Nor can I pretend to have any inside information on this. (You'ld be surprised how few terrorists live in my neighbourhood.) But here's a guess I have some confidence in.

1. Most Muslims, like most of us, are not enthusiastic about wars. You don't see millions of Mulsims rushing to join the fighting in the middle east. The millions are rushing the other way.

2. The West has, for over a century, now, created support for war with propaganda that creates the fear and hatred necessary to make people kill and what to be killed. And the big money which owns our private news media also has the political power to drive us into war.

3. For many reasons, these factors are much less powerful in the Muslim world.

4. The result is that the majority of Muslims,  by far, have no enthusiasm for war. They know, from long experience, it offers no glory but only suffering and death.

5. The recent terrorist attacks have been to confuse and divide that Muslim majority. They are meant to create fear and hatred of Muslims in the western world - and they have done so brilliantly in the U.S., and are doing so now in Europe. But the majority of Muslims do not support extreme Islamic positions any more than you would support the clergy who carried out the Spanish Inquisition.

6. The purpose of attacks on the west is to drive moderate Muslims into the arms of the extremists, to expose them to western hatreds and attacks, to exacerbate the refugee crisis so that the only choice the majority have is to support the extremists. Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, Hillary Clinton are the answers to a terrorist dream.
From all this, you might guess that there isn't much in the Irving press. And there isn't.

In fairness, the lead story is a real one. Police and firefighters are angry at  government legislation that would seriously undercut their bargaining power to get better wages. This is also in the works for other bargaining agents. The theory is to prevent employees from getting 'excessive' wages. And guess who gets to decide what is excessive?

For our own good, we need to support our police and firefighters in this because, in the long run, it's aimed at all of us.

Tell you what, Mr. Gallant, let's start at the other end. Let's put a cap on the salaries of Mr. Irving and all his overpaid flunkies. And, if we find that it works, then we can move down the scale.

But there's an even bigger, Irving press kind of story in A3.  The government wants jail time for a woman who threw coffee containers at police. Beside it is another thrilling story is that an armed robbery suspect will remain in custody. (Gee. I thought for sure they'd let him out.)
The editorial is better than usual, but stops short of being good. Norbert Cunningham has a quite sensible column arguing that the government should be listening to the expert advice of medical doctors in planning its health services. For some reason, he then wanders off into "liberal ideology" and "conservative ideology".  But there are no such things in our traditional parties which have no ideologies of any sort. That's why the party of John A. Macdonald was NOT called the Conservative partyl. It was the Liberal-Conservative Party.

Brian Murphy writes well, but always in the style of the Faith page, with platitudes guaranteed not to offend man or beast. This reads like the column of a man who is seriously thinking of going back into politics.

The guest column on greater local powers for rural New Brunswick deals with an important issue. But it reads like a formal paper on "The incidence of negative nuclear diffusion among stone age megalairiums" Not one reader in a hundred is going to understand this. This is obviously by a person who has been deeply engrossed in his subject. But readers have not been so engrossed. Everything here is vague and in bureaucratize.  You have to write for your readers. Otherwise, you end up talking to yourself.

Alec Bruce has an excellent and common sense column about fracking. Unlike the editorials on this subject, it lives in the real world.
And what's going on across Canada and the World? The big story is that 4 New Brunswick liquor stores are offering a new app to help you choose the right vintage.

There's virtually nothing on the rest of the world - and certainly nothing, yet again, on Yemen. Nothing on the the high proportion of union leaders and other  'trouble-makers' who are routinely murdered in Latin America to keep our mining stocks booming. Nothing on the very severe   worsening of the refugee crisis in Europe. Nothing on the surprise agreements by the U.S. and Russia on Syria.

The only item worth reading is about the discovery of what might have been a Viking settlement in southern Newfoundland.

I'll look at the Faith page tomorrow. It's about the "high regard for women" among us Christians. Right.
Obama has been very successful in promoting himself as a moderate voice. That's amazing, considering he has not be moderate in his action..
Here's a site recommended by Ralph Nader for hints about personal spending, credit cards, selling frauds, etc. It's written for an American audience, but should also prove useful for Canadians and others.
Tom Feeley, of Information Clearing House, should be out of the hospital and back to his news site again. As I was checking this, I thought of accounts I had seen of government and, possibly, mob interference with him, including some very serious threats. On a quick check, I found this one of some years ago. I have read of others, but can't find them on the web.

As a gentler example or government interference, his  item on the number of Americans killed by police, is routinely erased, usually within a second or less of your opening of the site.

But don't worry. The staff of the Irving press is in no danger.
This one looks like the beginning of a very interesting series. Drones maybe the cutting edge of a  whole, new concept of warfare.     For young people, it can simply be an extension  video gaming, with an impersonal killing of the enemy - or whoever has the bad luck to be in the way, a giant step in indiscriminate murder.
President Obama has warned the Nuclear summit that 'madmen' must be prevented from getting nuclear weapons. He's quite right. And he should know.

The only madmen who were ever insane enough to use them were the government and military leaders of the U.S. in 1945. People in the Marshall Islands, to this day, are dying from the nuclear tests those madmen later carried out on their homeland. And no counntry has been more reluctant than the U.S. to reduce its stockpile even thouh it has enough to destroy the whole planet many times over. In more than 70 years since Hiroshima, the U.S. has not lifted a finger to reduce the world's stockpile of nuclear weapons. And Obama will certainly not step up to be the first to do so.
The next story  is one I came across by accident. It's a couple of weeks old. But, gee, it's about the major newspaper in Halifax - and rather an important story. The Chronicle-Herald is not what anyone would call a good newspaper. In fact, it is only barely better than the Irving press. But it is, after all, the biggest paper in the maritime region. Why the silence about the trouble it has been going through?

This report is biased, and probably rates the journalists higher than it should. But the basic elements of it are sound.
_________________________________________________________________And I see I've run overtime again. Ah, tomorrow....

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for this article Graeme. As usual I learned something.