31 July 2006

The Revolving Door Dilemma Continues

Tying right in with my most recent post, this angers me to no end. Another pervert who should be locked away forever so that he can't hurt little kids, but is out on the street despite all of this history. Peter Whitmore
was first convicted in 1993 of abduction and five sexual offences involving four young boys and spent 16 months in custody.
Nine days after his release, he took an eight-year-old girl from Guelph, Ont., to Toronto, and was sentenced to 56 months in prison.
Less than a month after his November 2000 release, he was found in a downtown Toronto motel with a 13-year-old boy. He was sentenced to one year in jail.
In 2002 he fled to British Columbia in an attempt to avoid the media spotlight in Ontario after he was found in the company of a five-year-old boy.
In B.C., he pleaded guilty to parole violations because a "rape kit" had been found on him.
A search of Whitmore's backpack turned up latex gloves, pictures of young children, tubes of jelly lubricant, duct tape, a sleeping bag and plastic zipper ties that can be used as handcuffs.
In 2002, Whitmore told CTV's Canada AM that he was not going to re-offend. "I can't change the past, but I can change the future. I won't do it again," he said.

Look at the times after his release that he re-offended again: 9 days and something less than 31 days. Why? Why? WHY?

There has got to be something done to get people like this classified as dangerous offenders, defined in the Criminal Code as an offender who:
constitutes a threat to the life, safety or physical or mental well-being of other persons on the basis of evidence establishing
(i) a pattern of repetitive behaviour by the offender, of which the offence for which he or she has been convicted forms a part, showing a failure to restrain his or her behaviour and a likelihood of causing death or injury to other persons, or inflicting severe psychological damage on other persons, through failure in the future to restrain his or her behaviour,
(ii) a pattern of persistent aggressive behaviour by the offender, of which the offence for which he or she has been convicted forms a part, showing a substantial degree of indifference on the part of the offender respecting the reasonably foreseeable consequences to other persons of his or her behaviour, or
(iii) any behaviour by the offender, associated with the offence for which he or she has been convicted, that is of such a brutal nature as to compel the conclusion that the offender’s behaviour in the future is unlikely to be inhibited by normal standards of behavioural restraint

This is the type of stuff I'm talking about in my previous post. He's been given multiple opportunities by the justice system to demonstrate that he's reformed, changed, whatever, and he's failed every single goddamn time and has now struck again against innocent young people. Had he faced stronger laws in 1993 when he first offended he wouldn't have been free to do this again. I cannot believe this actually has been allowed to happen. Why isn't there a monitoring system? Why wasn't there proper notification and surveillance detailing his movements? Why doesn't he have an ankle bracelet that tracks his every move? Why is he on the loose to prey on children, goddammit!?!?!?

Is the timing still off, or am I a little more accurate now when it comes to saying that it's time to deal with these crimes?

28 July 2006

Advise and Dissent

Folks, your humble party host is looking for some help and guidance. I'm in the midst of drafting what will be a fairly short (by my standards) little paper to the Minister of Justice regarding strengthening laws involving sexual assault, violent pornography, and prostitution. Happy subjects, I know, and issues which are always controversial because someone will inevitably say that the Government of Canada has no business legislating morality.
A cursory examination of the Criminal Code reveals that the punishment on the books for some of the most awful crimes people commit against each other are depressingly weak and ineffectual. A lot of offences involving child pornography--the mere existence of which is deemed by the Supreme Court of Canada to be a danger to all children, not just the ones directly involved--and child exploitation (molestation, coercion, etc.) have penalties as low as a summary conviction (max. 6 months in jail and/or a $2000 fine). A rapist can be out of jail in as little as 18 months after conviction. A pimp that exploits children for sex has a minimum penalty of only 2 years--two years for destroying a child's life.
What I'm asking from you all is advice as to what you think should be recommended to the Government of Canada to strengthen the punishments against those who prey largely on those considered to be society's most vulnerable. Should we be going after longer prison terms? Mandatory minimums? How can we protect people from others who will use, abuse, exploit, and degrade them?
I'm of the mind to go with the mandatory minimums because they do establish a clear baseline deterrence. Hopefully a pervert or pornographer will have enough rationality to come to the conclusion that their repugnant practices are not worth spending a guaranteed X number of years in jail where they'll be severely dealt with by the "prisoner's code." It would be nice if they didn't have such dark thoughts in the first place, but given that they are already beyond that point, the best we can hope for is to deter and contain them from engaging in behaviour that puts women and children at risk.
I'm also thinking of putting together a petition that supplement my own voice and demonstrate that there is a modicum of acceptance of the idea that the government can and should do more to keep people away from engaging in deleterious behaviour that relegates other people to second-class citizenship and in some cases even denies their humanity. I've never done something like that before, and I wouldn't really know where to start. I'm sure that I could go visit the Nova Scotia Council on the Status of Women and they'd be happy to help me out, so that seems like Point A. But are there legitimate ways to get these going over the internet that are recognized by the Government? Any help that you fine folks can provide would be greatly appreciated.

This is something that I strongly believe in. We are at a point where 1 in 2 women will be subjected to some form of physical and/or emotional abuse during the course of their lives. This number is far, far too high. I find that governments take action when they are compelled by large numbers of their population to redress a wrong. The extent of violence against women and children is exceedingly wrong. This is where you and I come into the picture. We can do this, we have the power to make the violence and the exploitation stop. Let's make it happen.

I'm hoping to have my initial draft letter/paper done in the next day or so. When I do I'll find a way to upload it as a .pdf for further discussion.

27 July 2006

Clinton Recap

Last night, Bill Clinton came to Halifax and delivered an address that went far beyond the parameters of "Canada-U.S. Relations" and delivered on a number of fronts the need for people to not only embrace interdependece, but also participate in it and use their power as individuals to help make the world a better place. It was not a particularly earth-shattering speech, as nothing new or revelatory was unveiled (including, of course, the question of whether or not Senator Hilary Clinton would run for President in 2008), but it was a lucid and inspiring address that one would expect from Clinton. He has clearly not lost any of the personal charm or charisma that made him President and still popular long after his term has ended, providing a few laughs and anecdotes along the way to keep the mood fairly light despite the obvious gravity of the topics that were discussed.

The event did start an hour late, as he did the rockstar thing and didn't get into the building until after the scheduled 7pm start time. Also, Peter Mackay was scheduled to speak between Frank McKenna and Clinton, but did not appear. This is entirely understandable, as the Minister of Foreign Affairs obviously has a lot on his plate right now to deal with.

Clinton spoke only fairly briefly about Canada and the United States, framing the speech around the notion of interdependence. "Where do you want the world to go in the 21st century?...How can we get there?...Who's supposed to do it?" These three questions were the theme of the evening. While addressing that there will be the occasional dispute between our countries and that neither of us is always right, he made an excellent point: there is no divorcing us. We're inextricably linked to one another, and this is a good thing. The partnership that we have can serve as a model to the world, highlighting the importance of "good" interdependence as opposed to the "bad" interdependence that we see in so much of the world. Case in point, the Middle East, which he spoke of at length and cites as being "not one whit less interdependent" than we are here. He made an interesting point that throughout human history, we have focused too much on what makes us different rather than what we have in common, and only when we reach the brink of destroying one another because of our differences do we truly realize just how many features we share. He is optimistic about the future, a sentiment which I share, but realistic that there is no quick fix to the problems of the world.

One of the most interesting topics of the evening was Clinton's discussion of the resurgence of what can be called "people power." The advent of the Internet has been crucial in this, allowing people "with modest means" to make a significant contribution alongside those who share their concerns about a certain issue at a particular time. Of all the money donated in America for disaster relief after the tsunami, significant amounts came over the 'net: "30% of households gave, over half of them gave over the Internet."

A fun anecdote was a carny in New York stuffing $50 in his hand because she said she didn't have time to make a donation over the computer. I must agree that this phenomenon is truly amazing; I've made contributions over the internet for everything from keeping favourite websites alive to charities to helping out friends. It goes to show just how small the world has become and the extent to which people from all over the world can come together to support international public good.
"We live in a world that is interdependent, but it is unstable, unequal, and unsustainable, because we not only share great opportunities...we also share some inconvenient facts."
A fascinating statement, and one that is true. He was referring here to the challenges of development and the problems posed by global poverty. Clinton's done a lot of good work through his Foundation after leaving the White House to mitigate the problems, but there is so much more that can be done. He noted the great disparity between military spending and development spending: $300B in Iraq and only $3B for AIDS programs. That's a big gap, and while I have seen Iraq as a potentially very good thing for the future of democracy in the Middle East, that disparity is shocking to note.
Inevitably Iraq came up, and Clinton's statement on this was very good and provided a lot more clarity than most people have on the subject. He said that, were he a Senator, he would have given assent to the resolution granting the President authority to use force in Iraq if necessary. He noted the significant amount of unresolved CW/BW stockpiles issues that existed at the time Iraq kicked out the weapons inspectors in 1998, and argued that there was still a measure of threat there, far moreso than the nuclear concerns. The inspectors should have been given more time, he argued, to loud cheers from the audience. He acknowledged without dispariging those who believed that the WMD argument was largely irrelevant and that the democracy promotion aspects of the war were the more important considerations in their minds; this is largely a conclusion I made in my thesis, so hearing this from Clinton is a good thing for my own arguments in that forum. Overall I found his discussion to be among the strongest Democratic statements on Iraq, as he did also state that it's now a case of 'we've broken the eggs, we have to make an omelette' out of the mess. He's not a "cut-and-run" type, he realizes the difficulties of the situation, and even though he disagreed with what happened in 2003 he is cognizant of what we have to do in 2006 and beyond to make sure that Iraq doesn't become another terrorist playground.
Wierd part of the night came during the Q&A with McKenna, when the former Ambassador, in discussing Chechnya, referred to the "Soviet Union." Note: the Cold War ended in 1989 and the Soviet Union disappeared in 1991, it's just Russia now.
Like I said earlier, nothing revealing at all regarding Hilary's intentions. She's still got a Senate election in November to deal with, and you never can look past the next election, or else you won't make it there. That said, he did say that she would make a great president, despite her occasional politically incorrect statements and breaks with the Democratic caucus on issues like Iraq.

A fun night and a great experience that I will not soon forget.

*Update* More videos now available over at YouTube.

25 July 2006

Now the file is closed

I was happy to read this in my email inbox today:

Prime Minister Harper announces agreement to compensate pre-1986/post-1990 hepatitis C victims

July 25, 2006Cambridge, Ontario

Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced today that the federal government has reached an agreement on the elements of a settlement for those Canadians who contracted hepatitis C from the blood system before January 1, 1986 and after July 1, 1990. Prior to the Prime Minister's announcement, only those victims who were infected between 1986 and 1990 were eligible for compensation.
"All should be compensated equally, because all of the victims have endured pain and suffering. Our party has long agreed with this conclusion. And now, as government, we're acting upon it," said the Prime Minister. Under the terms of the agreement announced today, Canada's new government will set aside nearly $1 billion in a special settlement fund, the sole purpose of which will be to provide compensation to those who were infected prior to January 1, 1986 and after July 1, 1990. The level of compensation will be based on the principle of parity with compensation already provided by the federal government for those who were infected between 1986 and 1990.
The Prime Minister added that the agreement announced today provides the foundation for a detailed final agreement. Once this is completed and approved by the courts in four provinces, an application and review process will be established to ensure that compensation is provided as quickly and effectively as possible.
"Because these victims have waited long enough for what is due to them, our government is going to do everything in its power to ensure that matters are moved ahead as quickly as possible," added the Prime Minister. Further details on the agreement and other issues related to compensation for those infected with hepatitis C through the blood system can be found in the backgrounder attached to this news release.
Back when I was a young lad in high school, this file was one of the first things to catch my attention politically. Hearing the then-Health Minister, Allan Rock, callously state, "The file is closed," after the Liberal government's initial decision for a limited compensation package really rubbed me the wrong way. Though I eventually did join the Liberal Party, I never liked Rock and seeing him bumble his way through nearly every successive post he held made me wonder why they kept him around. So I was pleased that the current government has made amends and will be compensating all people who received tainted blood from the Red Cross.
This probably isn't a major issue for a lot of people, but it's something that has always stuck with me, and seeing the Harper government do the right thing and redress an old wrong is a really sharp move on his part.
Quick Hits

I find this disturbing. I'm concerned for those who will be coming into PSE in the next few years (particularly younger family members) and not having the means to pay for it. There is a lot of scholarship money out there to be had, but loans have tended to be a reliable fall-back. I also note the usual outlandish CFS malarkey at the end.

David Frum fulfills my Saturday request and fuels my fears of Iran's involvement in the Israel-Hezbollah war:
"For all practical purposes, Hezbollah is an arm of the Iranian state. And when Hezbollah goaded Israel into war, the war it triggered was not a war between Israel and Lebanon. The war Hezbollah provoked is a war between Israel and Iran, with Hezbollah as Iran’s proxy — and the people of Lebanon as Iran’s victims."

Fantastic. This is something that should have everybody's support. I personally believe they should be seeking stronger punishments, but it's a start.

24 July 2006

The President Comes to Town

The former President, but one of only five living men that can say he is/was the President of the United States of American, Bill Clinton, will be coming to Halifax on Wednesday to discuss Canada-U.S. relations. Thanks to the folks at Dal, I've got a ticket to be there. I'm looking forward to the event, and I hope that a good number of major issues are discussed, including, but not limited to:

1. The divergence between security and trade priorities. Post-9/11, south of the 49th, it's security, security, security. Up here, it's trade, then security. This has caused a lot of frictions, as the current Administration clearly horse-trades on the two issues: cooperate on security, get trade benefits. It's not a coincidence that a U.S.-Australia free trade pact came shortly after they signed on for BMD while Canada found itself in the cold on softwood lumber after Martin snubbed the Bush administration.

2. The lack of understanding. Americans are misunderstood. When you're a David living next to Goliath, there are going to be some natural resentments and disconnects. It's even worse when David doesn't "get" why Goliath has to ramp up security despite being Goliath. By the same token, Canadians are misunderstood. Part of this is because our government has from time to time seemingly gone out of its way to confuse us. Imagine how it looks on the other side. All that said, there needs to be more dialogue between Ottawa and Washington so that there are clearer intentions and less room for confusion that leads to more misunderstandings. Some variation of the Bush Doctrine will endure beyond January 2009; Canada needs to understand that America's posture will not be altered by Bush's departure, and America needs to understand why Canada has its share of skepticism about American intentions for the world.

3. The opportunities to strengthen our bilateral and multilateral alliances. We've just re-upped NORAD, we both agree that there's a need to reform the UN, and NATO is in need of revamping for a new century. Washington is coming to recognize that it has not used its unipolar power to the maximum benefit for international public goods. Canada desires a stronger role in the world more reflective of our G8 status and historical traditions. This presents an unique opportunity for us to get together and move ahead. We have so many common goals and ideals, that a phony rivalry and knee-jerk anti-Americanism has endured for as long as it has is embarrassing for both countries.

4. Will Hilary run in 2008?

That's what's I'm thinking I'd like to hear discussed. If anything else pops into my head, I'll post about it. If there's anything that you think will be discussed that I've missed out, you post about it and we'll chat on it.

Also, for my Dal colleagues: how many of us are still in town and going to this?

22 July 2006

June 1914 in the Air?

History buffs and very old readers will know that June 1914 was very tension-packed in Europe: the brink of war, secret alliances, blank cheques, and a real concern that a single spark would set the continent ablaze. The longer the current conflict takes to resolve, the greater are the stakes, the tougher the language, and the more difficult it will be to climb back from the edge of the abyss.

The initial spark to this latest conflict seemed innocuous enough; though any state would respond forcibly in order to guarantee the safe return of its abducted citizens, military or civilian, many are truly shocked to see the extent of the force Israel has used against Lebanon. I view this powder-keg not in the lens of two soldiers, but in the entire history of Hezbollah's terrorism against the state of Israel. By the appearance of their actions and words, so does Israel. And with considerable justification:

U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage has warned of Hezbollah's lethality, noting that "Hezbollah may be the A team of terrorists," while "al Qaeda is actually the B team."

CIA director George Tenet testified earlier this year, "Hezbollah, as an organization with capability and worldwide presence, is [al Qaeda's] equal, if not a far more capable organization. I actually think they're a notch above in many respects." - Daniel Byman, "Should Hezbollah Be Next?" Foreign Affairs 82.6 (2003).

Much like the Taliban had turned Afghanistan into their playground, so has Hezbollah done in the southern half of Lebanon. They have used the country as a base of operations to conduct and orchestrate terrorist attacks against Israel for nearly 25 years now, their first big appearance in the headlines being the bombing of the American Embassy in Beirut that killed 244 Marines. Lebanon, under political control from Syria until just last year, has been impotent to prevent Hezbollah's ongoing terrorist actions and even from their "going mainstream" by forming a political wing that has representation in the Lebanese Parliament and two cabinet members. Hezbollah also receives mass funding from Iran, the sworn enemy of the Jewish state and whose president denies the Holocaust and seeks to "wipe Israel off the map."

Despite the end of Syrian political occupation last year and the passage of Security Council Resolution 1559, which requires the dismantling of all militias, including Hezbollah, no action has been taken to do that. Hezbollah has been free to plan and carry out terror attacks with little repercussions from the Lebanese government. All of this has pushed Israel to the brink of its limits for what it will tolerate from its neighbours.

Israel is the lone democracy in the Middle East. That distinction, coupled with the history of World War II, has resulted in many ties with the West, including and especially the United States. Israel receives more American foreign aid than any other state, it has security partnerships with Washington, and a strong political action committee within the United States. Due to the unending hostilities within the region, "the imperial guarantor finds itself dragged into a regional conflict that is one long hemorrhage of its diplomatic and military authority." (Michael Ignatieff, "The American Empire: The Burden," New York Times Magazine, 5 Jan. 2003) Many see the United States as impartial, heavily biased towards Israel, and argue that it should take a more middle road. For the reasons mentioned above, that simply will not happen.

This makes for a tremendous conundrum. Reportedly, Iran has instigated all of this in order to divert attention from the fact it is developing nuclear weapons. If that is true, it has worked to a T. Very few are actively discussing what to do about Tehran's effort to produce an atomic bomb. Instead, here in the West, we are (rightfully) concerned about the well-being of our nationals in Lebanon, and working to get them out of there. The very fact that this is happening almost seems like a hat-tip that something much larger is at play here. There have been numerous clashes in the region before, and to my recollection never has there been a Dunkirk-type of mass evacuation. As an aside, those who are complaining about the time it has taken to relocate up to 50,000 Canadians in a region where we have no capabilities and other states are also lining up in the queue to rent planes, boats, and even jet-skis would be well-advised to read a book, in all the free time they have, about how long it took to evacuate the British soldiers from Dunkirk in the middle of a war.

Back on topic, I think that there is something larger at play here driving the evacuation movement. It may be due to an impending ground invasion by Israel, it may be to avoid an even larger humanitarian crisis than already exists. I'd like to see some media outlets explore the Iran-Syria angle in all of this a little more, because I get this nasty feeling that something is up. What if they intend to use an Israeli invasion of Lebanon, a sovereign state in name only given the modifications we have seen to the word in recent years thanks to The Responsibility to Protect doctrine (states have obligations and responsibilities to their citizens; failing to meet them is a forfeiture of sovereignty), as a pretext for a strike of their own? I may be over-reaching here and reading the worst into a despotic regime and its intentions, but what if?

If there is more happening that we don't know about, and there are other factors in play, we could be on the verge of a major regional war between Israel and Iran. The United States is right in the middle of the two, literally and probably figuratively, too. We know that the United States is not clamouring for a war with Iran, given its present occupation responsibilities in Iraq, and Tehran has been exploiting America's temporary position of relative inability to take on any more military burdens to stall and delay while it continues to build a nuclear weapon. Given all the variables, is it possible that an invasion of Lebanon to rid the country of Hezbollah is the spark that ignites the whole region? The answer remains unclear for the time being.

19 July 2006


1. How does taking a position based on moral clarity disqualify Canada from being an "honest broker" in any future peace negotiations?

2. Have we truly become such a society of instant gratification that people truly believe we can re-locate tens of thousands of Canadians in a region in which we have no military capabilities for that purpose overnight?

3. Why is there an insistence by some quarters on a neutral ground that seeks to draw moral equivalence between a democratic state and a terrorist organization that is exploiting the weakness of the Lebanese state?

4. Why do well-meaning people seek to deny a legitimate state from enforcing its right of self-defence and the principles Security Council Resolutions 1368, 1373, and 1559?

5. If states are not willing to disrupt, dismantle, and disband terrorist organizations, either because they are incapable or unwilling, do not the principles of The Responsibility to Protect, which re-defines sovereignty as conditional based on responsibilities and obligations, apply?

17 July 2006

Tips for the Democrats

Generally I'm not one to dispense advice to political opponents, but I've got a suggestion or two for the Democrats today. I regard them as "opponents" only because their tendency has been to oppose, oppose, oppose everything the Bush Administration has put forward and not put forth any alternative suggestions. In that respect, they're a hindrance to the advance of the political interests of the United States.
The first thing the Democrats can do to make some gains in the November mid-terms is to focus their opposition to the Administration on its Iraq policy and provide a reconceptualization of the War on Terror. Quite rightly, Colin Powell warned back in 2002 that allies would perceive a shift of American strategy to Iraq to be a "bait-and-switch" in the new conflict, expanding it to incorporate anti-democratic regimes that may or may not have connections to terrorism and other areas central to American security. This has resulted in the War on Terror being expanded to include a War on Tyranny. The Democrats have been opposing the Iraq war but not advocating a staunch return to the initial conception of the War on Terror, a conflict that did have the majority of America's traditional allies on its side, and continues to be a major area of concern because of successful attacks in Bali, Madrid, London, and elsewhere; and because of terrorist cells popping up in Canada and the United States, placing the threat very close to home.
Democrats have a winning issue sitting in their laps that they have failed to exploit to the fullest: Afghanistan. A lot of resources were diverted from the hunt for Osama bin Laden and the Taliban in order to deploy them to Iraq, leaving the job in the war's initial front only half-finished. There are still regular attacks occurring against civilians, coalition allies, and Americans in various pockets of Afghanistan. The Democrats can jump on this reality and use it as a plank to counter arguments that they're "soft on the War on Terror" and have gone wobbly on American security. By pushing for a stronger, more dedicated commitment to Afghanistan, they can appeal to the hawks who want to go out and smash terrorists that desire to kill Americans, and leave Bush's Iraq flank open to more legitimate scrutiny. They need to go out and separate the two issues and go back to basics. If they don't, and remain divided and floundering, they're going to get their clocks cleaned in November, leaving the legislative, executive, and judiciary all tilting towards the Republicans.

15 July 2006

It's been a while since a Prime Minister of Canada delivered a truly rousing speech that stirs a lot of great emotion. Stephen Harper did exactly that yesterday. Read it here.

14 July 2006

Why Israel's Position is Eminently Justifiable

I'm amazed that nobody (at least not that I've seen) has pointed out Israel's fundamental policy when it comes to dealing with terrorist organizations such as Hamas and Hizbollah. It's very simple, and can be summed up in a single sentence that should be familiar to everybody:

"We make no distinction between terrorists and those who knowingly harbor or provide aid to them." -- United States, National Security Strategy of the United States of America (2002), p.5

12 July 2006

Calgary Bound?

All signs are pointing to a move to Calgary at the end of August. I'm hoping to have my thesis defence done in time so that we can spend a few days packing up and getting ourselves ready to go on a fun little cross-Canada drive. That said, I'm hoping that somebody from Calgary, or Alberta generally, reads this little blog of mine and can answer some of the following simple little questions:
1. How much is a 4L jug of milk? It's $6 here, and that's too much!
2. Car insurance? Reasonable or gougers?
3. How much is a litre of gas these days?
That's all, really, for now anyways. If there's more everyday stuff that you think is probably cheaper (or more expensive) than here in Halifax, let me know!

08 July 2006

Iraq: War and Occupation

I'm going to make this fairly brief because I've been working on some things for the second draft of my thesis all day, and both my hands and brain hurt. There's a lot of people out there who still cling to the view that the invasion and occupation of Iraq were and are illegal because they lack the blessing of the United Nations. These people are wrong, and in any event, as Dean Acheson once said, the survival of states is not a matter of international law. Frankly, I don't have much use for the UN Security Council and a lot of its other bodies. There are those which do good work in protecting and feeding children, and taking care of human rights, but these are largely overshadowed by "high security" matters that fall to the Security Council. The Council is outdated, outmoded, and irreflective of current global realities, and the concept that a democracy can't do what is an international public good because non-democratic China wants to protect its economic interests is repugnant to any good Wilsonian. That's my view, some people agree with it, but many do not, and believe Kofi Annan when he says that the UN is the sole entity that can confer international legitimacy on the use of force and other international actions.
For them, I present this. People who continue to harp about the supposed illegality of the war and subsequent occupation need to look at Security Council Resolution 1637, which affirms the legitimacy of the occupation because the multinational force is there on the request of the legitimately-elected government of Iraq. I'll even bold it below so that there can be absolutely no mistaking what the UN has said on this matter. Because I'm nice, here are the operative clauses of the resolution (the preamble is lengthy and I don't want it to clutter my page, though it is helpful too, so I'll give a link):

Determining that the situation in Iraq continues to constitute a threat to
international peace and security,
Acting under Chapter VII of the Charter of the United Nations,
1. Notes that the presence of the multinational force in Iraq is at the request of the Government of Iraq and, having regard to the letters annexed to this resolution, reaffirms the authorization for the multinational force as set forth in resolution 1546 (2004) and decides to extend the mandate of the multinational force as set forth in that resolution until 31 December 2006;
2. Decides further that the mandate for the multinational force shall be
reviewed at the request of the Government of Iraq or no later than 15 June 2006, and declares that it will terminate this mandate earlier if requested by the Government of Iraq;
3. Decides to extend until 31 December 2006 the arrangements established
in paragraph 20 of resolution 1483 (2003) for the depositing into the Development Fund for Iraq of proceeds from export sales of petroleum, petroleum products, and natural gas and the arrangements referred to in paragraph 12 of resolution 1483 (2003) and paragraph 24 of resolution 1546 (2004) for the monitoring of the Development Fund for Iraq by the International Advisory and Monitoring Board;
4. Decides further that the provisions in the above paragraph for the deposit
of proceeds into the Development Fund for Iraq and for the role of the International Advisory and Monitoring Board shall be reviewed at the request of the Government of Iraq or no later than 15 June 2006;
5. Requests that the Secretary-General continue to report to the Council on
UNAMI’s operations in Iraq on a quarterly basis;
6. Requests that the United States, on behalf of the multinational force,
continue to report to the Council on the efforts and progress of this force on a
quarterly basis;
7. Decides to remain actively seized of the matter.

And there you have it, kids. The UN has given its approval and support for the occupation of Iraq. The occupation would not have occurred without the invasion and regime change. Ex post facto legitimacy will do nicely. I'm more than a trifle disappointed that this bit of news never made it on television (guess the media don't like to give up on one of their top talking points), but knowing the truth is more than enough to overcome that bit of sadness in my Wilsonian heart.

07 July 2006

Pee-Boy Comes Forward

The young man that has become hated throughout Canada for urinating on the War Memorial on Canada Day has come forth. He's on CTV and he appears genuinely remorseful and sorrowful for what he did. He says that he doesn't remember any of it, but he accepts full responsibility for his actions, and understands and respects the outrage that people feel. While I don't like the "I was drunk, I had to go" spiel, because of its implication that drunk men lack the ability to control themselves sufficiently to find a suitable place, I have to say that it takes a lot of guts to come forward and take his lumps. So he gets a point or two for, but that still doesn't cancel out the several thousand points against him.

05 July 2006

North Korean Missile Tests

Everybody has no doubt heard that North Korea has test-fired at least seven missiles, including its Taepodong-2, which is said to have sufficient range to hit the west coast of the United States. What I am getting tired of hearing is that the tests were done because its Stalinist dictator, Kim Jong Il, "just wants attention." No less than fifty times have I heard people say this, as if Kim desires nothing more than to get his face on television by lobbing missiles at the Sea of Japan.
This caricature is dangerous and is a very incomplete portrait of North Korea's intentions and rationale. If the DPRK merely "wanted attention," Kim would have made another claim of having nuclear weapons. There is something more at play here, and it has to do with selling missiles illicitly. North Korea has earned a reputation to be a one-stop missile shop, "Missiles R Us," and my inclination is that he's using these test-fires as a twisted sort of 'diplomatic code' that they're ready to sell off a new bunch of Scuds, Nodongs, and short-range missiles.
Unfortunately for North Korea, the spectacular failure of the Taepodong-2, which reportedly konked out within a minute of being launched, will probably hurt his arms sales somewhat. But the Scuds worked fine, and that will likely result in him netting a couple hundred million dollars that he can turn over to his generals for more R&D. There's probably also a job opening at the head of the T-2 program; Stalinists tend to punish failure severely.
The diplomatic consquences of the missile tests will result in a slap on the wrist from the UN, unilateral sanctions by Japan, and potentially a kick-start to a new round of six-party (US, North Korea, South Korea, Japan, China, and Russia) negotiations to disarm the DPRK and give it some security gurantees and economic assistance. The UN may produce a resolution that condemns the action, but there won't be multilateral sanctions because of China, which will use the threat of the veto to protect any severe inducements against its client state. Japan doesn't like it when the Korean lob missiles into the Sea of Japan, and given that we've been through all of this before, they're going to slap more stringent sanctions than they did back in 1998. The six-party talks, which have stalled since the DPRK decided to back out of agreements made last September, may get going again but may prove as futile as they have in the past.
The United States will, of course, be involved heavily in what happens next. When an 'axis of evil' state goes out of its way to justify the label, Washington tends to respond. Whatever the criticisms of the Bush Administration's weak policy on North Korea, this type of provocation will result in some form of action. They have to walk a difficult balance here; they can't be too far ahead of the other four parties working to disarm North Korea, or the chessboard will be shaped as the United States v. North Korea. That's not in the American interest, but neither is tepidness because China does not want to be too harsh. A Clinton official on CNN yesterday said that the United States should have preempted these missile tests by lobbing a few of its own missiles into North Korea to take out the missile silos. Maybe he didn't get the memo from Kim Jong Il that said he'd respond to any preemptive strike with nuclear weapons, and momentarily forgot that such action would be a de facto and de jure act of war. Moderation is important in this latest diplomatic crisis, and starting a war--which would escalate rapidly if Kim's statements are to be taken at face value--is more than a little counterproductive in such circumstances. And they say that the Bush Admin. are a bunch of warmongers; this is a Clinton guy saying that the use of force is the way to go!
Now, I'm all for getting rid of Kim Jong Il and his little dynasty, but that is something which is going to happen organically. It's nonsensical to risk a nuclear war to accomplish a goal which will ultimately realize itself. Kim has bankrupted the DPRK, and his only claim to 'legitimacy' is his nuclear arsenal. Remove that from the equation, and there's not a whole lot left. I don't see the current regime enduring beyond the current Dear Leader, and the collapse of the state is a very likely event. The goal for the United States thus is to disarm--finally, completely, and verifiably--North Korea and move along such that the conditions for the regime's collapse become inevitable.

04 July 2006

Happy Fourth of July!

To all my American friends out there, enjoy this day to celebrate your country and its ideals.

Some Days . . .

It's only 7:17am and there is a lot wrong with the world this morning. First, we have this response to Warren Kinsella's recent Post article about the sex trade and those who advertise it:

"We see no contradiction in supporting women's rights while allowing women to advertise sexual services."

There's a pretty blatantly inherent contradiction between claiming to be supporting womens' rights and supporting an industry that systemically denies and represses womens' rights. I have a really hard time reconciling that statement, is there anybody who can plausibly and legitimately argue that womens' rights are advanced by prostitution? Hint: don't bother trying, because you can't.

Second, I'm waiting at the bus stop because at 6am my legs are tired from walking to the hospital and I just don't have the energy to walk back home. So I'm sitting there and there's some large dude standing there singing along to his DiscMan about "the land of the gang-bangers." I now know what my brain looks like because my eyes rolled that far back into my head.

Third, we have this. My heart literally sank when I read this story. Is there really such a lack of appreciation, respect, and national pride amongst our people that someone--three someones--would actually urinate on a memorial to the Canadians that gave their lives in foreign wars? Did they think it was humourous to piss on the sacrifices of hundreds of thousands of young men and women who gave their lives so that these little pricks could live in freedom? The Post also has a story on this, featuring the following excerpt with which I completely agree:

David McGuinty, the MP for Ottawa South, did not mince words on the appropriate punishment for those caught urinating, whom he called “the worst of the worst that society has to offer.”
“You want to grab them by the hair or by the ears and walk them through the War Museum, to understand just how despicable and disrespectful that kind of conduct is,” he said, adding, “You cannot attribute this to drunkenness.”

Here's my recommendation for what should happen when these ungrateful people (and I use the term loosely) are tried: make them spend two weeks in military training so that they have a little more respect for what Canadian soldiers do. I'm sure that current Forces trainers would see to it that these young men emerge with a little more appreciation for those who came before us.

I haven't even had breakfast yet and that's three things that really just make me wonder. Maybe I should just write this one off and go back to bed.

Update: in another display of "great minds think alike," Joanne (True Blue) has also posted on this topic. We're in the midst of haggling over who did first, though. :)

01 July 2006

Happy Canada Day!

First things first, a resounding Happy 139th Birthday to Canada! You don't look a day over 137!

Liberals Face Reality; Ambrose Vindicated?

It's nice to finally see a senior Liberal acknowledge a simple reality: no matter how much hot air we emit about Kyoto, we're not going to meet our obligations under the Protocol. No less than Stephane Dion, one of the folks who helped negotiate Canada's terms and a former environment minister, said:

“In 2008, I will be part of Kyoto, but I will say to the world I don’t think I [sic- should be 'we'-RGM] will make it. Everyone is saying target, target. But ... it is to be more than to reach a target. It’s to change the economy. It’s to have resource productivity, energy efficiency when we know that energy will be the next crisis for the economy of the world.”

Given how much vitriol the Liberals spent blasting Rona Ambrose for being realistic in the past session of Parliament by saying that Canada will not make it, this response from her office is not at all surprising and hints at their feeling of vindication:

“It is concerning that the Liberals were prepared to mislead Canadians on the Kyoto targets even though the former Liberal environment minister now admits the targets were unachievable.”

I say good on Dion for attempting to pull the Liberals' collective head out of the clouds and face up to reality on this major issue. He's going to take a lot of slack for such a statement, as some of his party's demagogues will no doubt be furious that one of their own has taken away a hollow stick to beat the Harper government with. I would suspect that Ambrose is smiling ear to ear having heard Dion, arguably the most credible Liberal on the environment file, say what she's been saying all along. I've got a lot of respect for Dion, and indeed always have--in case I've never told the story, I attribute a lot of credit to him for spurring my own political interest development, having received a personal response letter from him during his stint as Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs regarding a Quebec issue--so it's nice that he is the one leading the way towards some Liberal realpolitik instead of mouthing empty platitudes that do nothing but denigrate well-reasoned people and serve no other purpose than to give us a 'feel-good' approach vis-a-vis other countries who have outright rejected Kyoto.
I wouldn't be surprised if this was the start of a seismic shift for the Liberals, who will increasingly come to realize that their current positions are untenable and contribute nothing to serious dialogue within this country as to how we can make a better environment for Canadians. Those who continue to cling to the fable of Kyoto will suffer a terrible political fate for a Liberal: losing. When the guy that helped negotiate Kyoto for Canada is saying that we can't meet it, that means something, and his colleagues would do well to take heed and pay attention. Otherwise, Rona Ambrose is going to be the one wielding a big stick during the fall session.