In This Edition: Stan Goff & Lindsay Perigo - From Suez To Afghanistan, A Very Slow Learning Curve - USA Hypocrisy
Stan Goff & Lindsay Perigo
To the Ed...
I never thought I'd find myself agreeing with Lindsay Perigo, but his essay on protecting individual freedom while we conduct the "War on Terrorism", was exemplary.
In times of national or international crisis, whether real or fabricated, people can be panicked or conned into surrendering their civil liberties.
To me, that is a greater danger than the billion-to-one chance of breathing in an anthrax spore, or the hundred-million-to-one chance of being a victim of a terrorist event. Which is not to trivialise the pain which victims of either events suffer.
By contrast I refer to the "Green Beret" story related by Stan Goff. (See… Former Green Beret Tells Pravda Bush Is Lying)
I remain sceptical, to put it mildly. Aside from the question of how a trenchant, self-proclaimed "left winger" such as the author of this article could ever become a Green Beret - his conspiracy theory is simply too complex for it to hold credibility.
Indeed, the article reads like something written by paranoid, conspiracy theorists from America's far right. These are a mixture of rabid right-wingers; survivalists; anti-Federal governmentalists; and assorted similar groups.
Interesting that, in the last few days, there has been a suggestion that the anthrax-attacks in the USA may be the work of DOMESTIC fanatics, not the Islamic variety. The dates on letters within contaminated envelopes were written in the AMERICAN style (month, day, year), rather than what is common elsewhere (day, month, year).
Like the Oklahoma City bombing, I strongly suspect that the villains of this mischief are home-grown.
And the "Green Beret" story from Stan Goff somehow lends itself to this scenario. (In Germany, neo-nazi leaders gave public support to Al Quaida's campaign against the US. Strange bedfellows by any definition. But a clue as to where neo-nazi's and other radid right-wingers might place their allegiance.)
Strangely though, some of the style of writing in this story reminded me of Oliver Stone's classic piece of conspiracy story-telling, JFK. Eg; the question "Who stands to benefit..." And then a convoluted, machiavellian tale of intrigue, diabolical plots, and fiendish goals which would make a damn good James Bond movie...
As an aside. If Osama Bin Laden and his organisation are the culprits of the 11 September atrocities, then the world has witnessed the birth of the first "super villain"...
If a "super villain", as defined by popular fiction, is an individual with extraordinary talents, leadership, resources, and ruthlessness in achieving anti-social goals - then Mr Bin Laden and his associates have met the criteria. Certainly he matches Ernst Stavro Blofeld and his S.P.E.C.T.R.E. organisation or Lex Luthor and his LexCorp empire.
But if such a "super villain" can exist, nature's equilibrium is disturbed if no counter-weight "super hero" also lives...
As the Secretary-General of NATO, Lord George Robertson said after 11 September, "this is no longer science fiction".
Welcome to the 21st Century.
From Suez To
Afghanistan, A Very Slow Learning Curve
New Zealand should do much more to resolve international conflicts. The issue is how.
It is a part of New Zealand's colonial heritage to follow the big, Anglo-Saxon power of the day into its conflicts. It is also a lesson of modern history that this does not work, for us or for anyone else. That was the lesson to learn from the 1956 Suez Crisis where we faced off, with the British, French and Israelis, against the whole United Nations, including the United States itself. It was also the lesson of Vietnam, where the United States itself had to back out. New Zealand's eagerness to contribute to a military (non-) solution to Afghanistan indicates its slow learning curve.
Our Bougainville peacemaking role demonstrated how we can do everyone concerned a favour by being available as a diplomatic broker.
It is a slovenly, no-brain cop-out just to say that we need to be asked first, before we can begin to act as a peace-broker. We need first to signal that we are willing to be asked, and there are non-intrusive ways of doing this. For instance, having our diplomats and politicians acquire the habit and reputation for listening informally, and attentively to all the parties concerned as conflicts begin to develop. Then, if things worsen, still indicating how we are available at any time to facilitate communication between the parties whenever they desire it.
That would, of course, be incompatible with a partisan military contribution. But it would enable us to help our friends to get off the hook when they came to see that was what they needed.
This approach would cost very little, and these days it should be quite easy to transfer some of the funding that used to go into military personnel, training, and equipment to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to carry out this work with more, suitably trained, staff.
I listened to this weeks Panorama programme (25th October: actually 26th 12.40 am) with great interest, but with also a great deal of despair.
The programme interviewed people from America and Pakistan and then tried to draw conclusions, which for the most part were comfortable to the western population.
Despite everything that was said on the programme I cannot recount a situation in recent history that the Americans have not become involved in other than for ulterior and selfish reasons.
Most definitely in most cases when the USA has become involved there is an underlying self-gratifying reason, usually oil: US ground soldier’s will very rarely become involved in any conflict unless they absolutely need to.
Some would argue that this is not the case, as in the case of Kosovo, but when they dig a little deeper there is always, in my experience, less altruistic reason.
Lets consider a few points that would greatly affect this debate: -
1. Kosovo, with no oil cannot possibly benefit the American’s by them intervening!
Wrong, Kosovo was a Godsend! Saddam Hussein had just called for a Jehad, but by going to war against another Christian country Saddam’s call was very quickly nullified and USA oil interests in the Gulf were, once again, secure.
2. Where oil is not involved, America has never gone to war since Vietnam and then in response to communist expansion. Korea was for the same reason.
3. The programme indicated that America had given more to Afghanistan in aid than any other country. This is probably correct, but they have an exploration interest in Afghanistan’s oil & gas.
The following also greatly affects the situation, but not directly: -
4. Very recently America refused to sign a world wide anti-pollution document, which most countries signed. The reason they gave was that it would adversely affect employment in the USA. In my opinion this is total hypocrisy. In the UK it costs about 70p/litre of petrol, but in the USA it costs about 20p. If the US citizens paid real prices for fuel then the country could more than afford to sign up to a world wide ant-pollution policy: instead the current trend is to go for even bigger 4 wheel drive trucks.
5. Unfortunately it is a fact that the average American consumes more resources than anyone from any other country and up to amore than 20 times the amount per day, which is an astonishing figure. This is why they need more energy than most countries. Up until recently they had banned the building of new nuclear power stations, which meant a much greater demand on fossil fuel.
Increasingly they are becoming ever more careful at protecting fossil fuel within their own national boundaries, which ultimately must lead to more disputes.
6. The world in general is becoming more sophisticated; people are becoming more educated and expect more from life than their forefathers. With this education, money and ease of travel we in the Western World, can all expect to find that the Third World populace will increasingly & justifiably demand more and more.
Regrettably this must eventually lead to major conflicts due to an increasing expectation from the people of the Middle East, Africa and the Far East. At the moment about 33% of the people in the world statistically are Christian with 18% Islam, however with modern medicine and consequent better survival rate to adulthood, the Islam World population is increasing. Another major difference is how many of the 33% Christian are devout, most Muslims pray 5 times a day! Suicide is a great Islamic sin, but to die for Allah is a great honour. It is this belief that is behind their suicide bombing campaigns that they have used for years in Israel. Obviously there is no easy answer, but with the general attitude of the Americans on this weeks programme I cannot see how it can be resolved. they must realise that they are not gods chosen and that other people in the world have (or should have) exactly the same rights as they expect.
NOTE: Indecently if the US army does go into Afghanistan as a ground force in the near future I think they will be defeated; they have a very poor track record, to the extent that I would suggest they are the best equipped, but one of the most useless ground armies in the world.