27 Apr 2009

Torture,Bush and the Facts

It turns out that thousands of US military members and NATO soldiers have been routinely waterboarded, kept in cramped conditions, subjected to sleep deprivation, kept in the cold, played loud music to endlessly and every other technique now widely being trumpeted in the world media is "torture", admittedly inflicted during Bush's time on some top Al Qaeda members, like 911 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, by the CIA in 2001-2006.

The reason is that all the methods that are so-called "Bush torture" are actually used to train US and NATO troops to resist interrogation when captured.

In light of these facts, should NATO and US officers, including many generals and others, who devised and ordered waterboarding and more of their own soldiers for the past 30 years, be investigated and tried for "torture"?

After all, sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander. And if they should not be investigated, why should Bush or any of his officials be subject to retrospective prosecution for the same techniques applied to confessed terrorists and mass murderers- including those who killed the Kenyans in the 1998 embassy bombings?

If US and NATO officers are not to be prosecuted en masse for "waterborading", "sleep depriving" and so on thousands of troops, it can only be because (a) we would hold such techniques are not "real" torture but merely harshness (b) the techniques the US used on it's own soldiers really are torture, but were used in training for a "good end" -- i.e.not to cause pain for pain's sake.

If we argue (a): the techniques are "harmless" or merely "harsh interrogation", why is it called 'torture' when US citizens do it to non-Americans but not, as in the NATO/US Army training, to each other?

If hold to (b): why was the CIA "waterboarding" of Sheik Khalid Mohammed, which had him confessing to a plot to bomb Los Angeles and the arrest of the attack cell, not a "good end"?

21 Apr 2009

Welcome To Hotel California

It sure is an odd place. Miss California, who was leading the Miss USA contest, lost last night because of a "controversial" (according to all the big media), "shocking" etc answer to a question. A pro gay activist and judge asked her what she thought of gay marriage. Her dignified answer was that some people believed in same sex and others opposite sex and whilst she meant no offense she believed in opposite sex marriage and that is how she was raised.

The gay activist judge later called her a "bitch" and a "c*nt" in public and said her remark cost her the title.

The fact that a judge at the contest is not considered "controversial" for ruining Miss California's title chances due to her polite remarks and calling her a "bitch" and "c*nt" after the TV programme is interesting.

The eventual winner was Miss North Carolina who was asked about the US financial bailouts for her question. She said she was opposed to the bailouts and the Federal and Presidential policy of bailout financially, even in a time of crisis. The media neither called this "controversial" nor remarked at all on it.

Most voters in California just rejected gay marriage in a referendum, most Americans do not approve it and neither (piblicly) does President Obama. Wheras most Americans voted for Democrats in the last election and for President Obama and he, the Senate and Congress have called financial bailouts vital and neccessery.

When you can figure out what Miss California said about gay marriage that was "controversial" or "shocking" and what Miss North Carolina said about bailouts that the media found non-controversial, you may figure out the immense bitterness social conservatives or the religious feel towards the big media in the USA that supposedly represents "unbiased" news.

7 Apr 2009

America, Through A Glass, Darkly

Peggy Noonan's commentary in the Wall Street Journal on Obama's Domestic Agenda provoked much opinion and my reply was published in the Opinion letters, where it received many positive comments. Noonan seems surprised at the 'grandiosity' of what Obama is undertaking. Herewith what I wrote:

"The directions Obama's domestic agenda takes, and his grandiose ideas to fundamentally alter the American relation between citizen and government from a quasi-libertarian ( "classical liberal") to a European ( "social democratic") one, have always been crystal clear for many years to anyone who bothered to look beyond the celebrity style superficiality of his attractive persona. Or to those who delved behind Obama's disarming happy-talk during the primary and presidential campaigns.

Obama-ism is a simple three legged stool comprising Alternative Energy, Education and Healthcare. There is nothing to suggest he will abandon the first, even were a new Ice Age to emerge (as it might) because it is the revenue generator. By loading America with the omniscient tax-and-expense of costly, unproven alternative energy, Obama pays in large measure for the other two prongs of his plan.

The most basic lesson of economics, that it is wasteful to subsidize one thing to be cheap by making another dear, is something Obama, an otherwise attractive and clever man, shows no sign of swallowing.

In all of this new American social construction, the government will be the lumber provider, carpenter, store owner and salesman. In other words, energy, education and health are to be nationalized, in essence and de facto. That none of this is shown to work any better, or indeed worse in the long run, than risk-reward private enterprise seems not important to Obama.

For Obama is a social egalitarian. and was largely raised in the international anti-American gruppenthink of the extpatriate intelligensia. The collective "fairness" to all Americans (perhaps even non-Americans) and of groups and classes of citizens real of contrived, is more important to him than the classical rights of individuals - rights upon which the nation was found ed.

Did the American people want this? Probably not - but with a supine applauding media and a mood of economic despair to exploit, there is every chance they will get it. Obama seems unworried that his grandiosity will saddle Americans with more public debt in a few years than the Republic has accumulated since 1776. To be indebted to your government to Obama's mind one begins to darkly glimpse, is perhaps desirable.

That the opposite intention was in the minds of those who framed the Constitution is an inconvenience not to be discussed.

To the obvious calculation that Medicare and Social Security will be bankrupted in Obama's daughters prime or there will no money left to fund the Healthcare and Federal education without raising taxation to European levels, the President seems equally unruffled.

For Euramericans like Obama, the new social contract is basically this: the private person must be indebted, financially and morally, to government. Government's prime obligation in return to the citizen is continued displays of public virtue via engineered "egalitarianism". The debt is real, the egalitarianism is fake - but the public, like in 1984, never figure out this simple trick. Thus the Democrats are fated to slowly become Jacobins - indeed some already are.

Though China will be the world Superpower perhaps in 2050, as predicted, Obama-ism merely hastens America along the declining European path of "soft" power, with soft citizens taking neither risk nor reward nor responsibility.

It is hardly what the Founding fathers had in mind, but with a citizenry addicted to easiness and pleasure, all of de Tocqueville's warnings about the consequences of "beneficial" government may sadly come true."

6 Apr 2009

Pissing About with Pirates

Despite hugely increased naval presence in the area, the Somali pirates continue to make a mockery of the world's sea powers as see today's BBC story.

Nothing will change until Obama takes the very unlikely step ( for him) of doing a "Barbary pirates" on the Somalis. In US history, when north African pirates caused havoc to US and other shipping around 1820, the navy invaded and sacked the home ports of the pirates. That shut down the notorious Barbary pirates pretty quick and one suspects it is the only medicine the Somalis will ever understand. Besides, it is the only sound military tactic - hit them at home.

Somali pirates seize more vessels

File photo of assailants who attacked a cruise ship off the coast of Somalia in 2005
More than 130 pirates attacks were reported in 2008

Somali pirates have seized a British-owned cargo ship and a Taiwanese ship, maritime officials say, after capturing three other vessels over the weekend.

Obama the Obsequious

Are the people surrounding President Obama clueless, or could -not -care -less? Who is in charge of Obama's protocol? It would seem on his recent trip to Europe, Obama became the first American President in memory to bow to a potentate ,when he stooped before the autocrat, King Abdalla, despite it is a rigorous rule of protocol that American Presidents never bow to Kings or Queens.

When Obama met the far more important Queen Elizabeth, a democratic monarch, he did not bow.

One could also not fail to note that Obama never missed an opportunity to "apologize" for America's imagined wrongs as a preface to nearly every meeting he had on his recent European trip. In this he is following up his first TV interview after the Presidency, when he apologized to the Iranian theocrats on Al-Arabiya TV.

Even when proposing the elimination of nuclear weapons in Prague, Obama had to apologize for America being the "only nation to have used" them, something which imposed a "moral duty "on the USA to lead in their elimination, he said. Did he know the historical facts?

True, the US used two atomic bombs to end Word War 2. Yet recent historical research shows that Japan had prepared submarines with aircraft on board, and was awaiting from Germany the clandestine transfer of nuclear material (the Nazi submarine carrying it surrendered en route to Japan in May, but the Japanese never knew this) so that a "dirty bomb" attack could be conducted on San Francisco. The proposed date was just a few days after Japan actually surrendered!

This is besides the fact the US and allies never knew the correct position of Germany's wartime research into atomic weapons, which Hitler fully intended to acquire. Therefore, as they saw it, they were in a deadly race, with the fate of the world in the balance - as indeed it was. Hitler already possessed in the V2 the means to deliver atomic weapons on London, and was working on the V4 ICBM which could have reached New York - again with a "dirty bomb" plutonium weapon. Had the war run another 6 months, the outcome might well have been ghastly.

It is a wonder that the USA grasped the full need to develop atomic weapons rapidly in the face of deadly enemies who were looking for the same, and to use them to end the war with far less human loss of life (on both sides) than a mainland invasion of Japan. This also had the intended purpose of halting Stalin from annexing much of Northern China and possible Stalinist ground offensives in Europe.

Obama has nothing to apologize for and his obsequiousness is unbecoming. However, reading his books, it is obvious Obama was an early and strong believer in 'conventional wisdom' anti-Americanism and blaming many of the ills of the world on the US. To the lesser extent that may be true Obama could be refreshingly honest, but it is not the way it's seen by the myriad of loathsome enemies the West faces.