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Damn, Ólafur Grímsson, President of Iceland, is getting cocky.   For good reason of course.  Keeping the people that run your country and businesses educated and healthy = productivity and innovation.


Shocked I am.  Positively aghast.  :)


Ah, the joy of the free press down in the US.  Let’s catch up with Noam as takes us through some possible solutions to the Palestine/Israel conflict.


CF18Canada has sent CF-18′s to participate in the bombing of ISIS.  I think this is a very bad idea and I need to tell you a story from my childhood to illustrate why.

This whole sending planes overseas to bomb people reminds me of one Christmas I had the pleasure of spending in Hawaii.  Oh let me assure you gentle readers, it was a very merry Mele Kalikimaka for my Mom and I.  We saw many wonderful sights, swam on many beaches, drove around for the first couple of days in a standard car that my dear Mum couldn’t reliably drive (which I nearly fell out of on the highway), turned my back on the ocean and was promptly slammed by a monster-wave that sent me cartwheeling underwater up a thirty-foot sandy incline losing my glasses and nearly my life in the process.  Like I said, good times.  But there was a side story that went along with our little Hawaii get-away and it involves attempting to acquire a certain toy that I reeeeeeeealy wanted.

You see, back at the time I happened to be young and had a certain proclivity toward the latest and greatest toys available at the time – Transformers.  Specifically for some reason lost to me now I wanted to get Soundwave – an evil Decepticon robot that could transform into a tape deck.  Witness (If you’re really curious, you can see Soundwave in action on youtube):


Whoa! So tricky, hiding as a radio/cassette player. My 10 year old mind didn’t do physics at the time, but how does a 12 foot multiple tonne robot “transform” into a human sized, human portable – boom box?


Daaaamn, Soundwave was cool. In the cartoon he spoke in a heavily vocoded monotone voice.

As I recall, our dynamic mother and son team spent a good deal of time on our vacation looking for the authentic Soundwave toy.  Now being that Tranformers were all shiny and new back then, they had not made it to the Big Island yet; and if they did the branded toys were snapped up by savvy Hawaiian  shoppers before the likes of our pasty Canadian tourists had even thought about buying them.

What was available were many imitation toys that mimicked the brand name toy precisely.  The knock-offs where everywhere in the Hawaiian toy stores.  And yes, in retrospect, I’m completely embarrassed at how spoiled I was for dragging my mother to so many malls in Hawaii looking for Mr.Soundwave – only child – I had no choice in the matter :)

Anyhow, we eventually had to settle on getting the very good Soundwave knock-off.  It was under the Christmas lamp and promptly opened and played with on that sunny tropical Christmas morning.  I remember though, that as much fun as I had with said toy it just wasn’t quite right.   It was almost everything I wanted, yet there was a keen edge of disappointment because we had to settle for something wasn’t exactly what I wanted.  It was a gift that involved a settlement – the best we could do at the time.

I’m sure we’ve all been in that situation in one form or another.  We’ve all wanted “X” soooo bad for so long but then “Y” comes along and we jump at the opportunity to get what we almost wanted because we figure it will do and make us just as happy.

Hint:  Settling doesn’t make us as happy.

So why is Canada going in with the Royal Canadian Air Force, when we know that bombing is not the solution to the ISIS problem?

“Air strikes alone are really not enough to defeat Isis in Kobani,” said Idris Nassan, a senior spokesman for the Kurdish fighters desperately trying to defend the important strategic redoubt from the advancing militants. “They are besieging the city on three sides, and fighter jets simply cannot hit each and every Isis fighter on the ground.”

He said Isis had adapted its tactics to military strikes from the air. “Each time a jet approaches, they leave their open positions, they scatter and hide. What we really need is ground support. We need heavy weapons and ammunition in order to fend them off and defeat them.”

Hmm…consider the words of US Army officer who sees a slightly different picture.

“For example, what would happen if the President took Mr. Kristol’s advice and bombed targets “for a few weeks” and then waited just to “see what happens”?  The first few iterations of air sorties would have a good chance of taking out numerous ISIS vehicles and personnel.  But in short order ISIS would adjust its methods of operation to disguise vehicle movements, reposition troops and embed command and control centers more deeply into civilian areas, becoming indistinguishable from the civil population.  

Now, despite having successfully destroyed a few targets, we would have pushed the enemy deeper underground, hardened his resolve, and seen his troops burrow in like ticks among the innocent residents of the cities he occupies. Further targeting from the air becomes next to impossible without killing noncombatants or sending in ground troops to flush the fighters out. Unless the President will entertain deepening American engagement by deploying ground combat units to root ISIS members out of their dug-in positions, house-by-house – decidedly not recommended – those successful bombing runs will have led to dismal failure.”

So our goal is stop the massacre of innocents and the spread of radical islamic notions. It would seem that given our tactics, neither of those goals would be accomplished. So here we are at that fateful time do we get the knock off toy – we have to do something to stop ISIS – and get not quite the result we’re looking for or do we wait for what we authentically want and commit to to bring that ideal to fruition?

Here is a strategy I think that Canada could actually play a role in; specifically point 3,4, and especially 5.  Canada’s role in the world used to be synonymous with Peacekeeping as opposed to the murderous imperialistic role that our current PM thinks is a-fucking-okay.

“To protect American and allied interests in and around ISIS, the United States would design and lead an aggressive regional diplomatic campaign to first isolate, and over time defeat this group of thugs; the military would play a supporting role.  To accomplish this objective, the United States would isolate ISIS economically, financially, and geographically, while eroding its support from within.   

To accomplish this strategic objective, the U.S. should: 

1) Work with the states around and near ISIS territory for the purpose of closing the borders leading into and out of ISIS areas including those in Syria as well as Iraq, thus depriving the jihadists of materiel that could support military operations;

2) use aggressive border control to pin ISIS to its current positions;

3) at the same time, separate ISIS from its external financial and material support;

4) conduct a social media campaign that truthfully exposes the grotesque nature of ISIS ideology in ++terms that would-be jihadists can understand;

5) conduct a sustained humanitarian aid effort to ensure the people currently under ISIS bondage will survive; and

6) institute a coalition-supported “no-go zone” between ISIS territory and that of friendly nations.  If ISIS vehicles or ground personnel venture into this zone, they will be destroyed. 

In short, we would make it clear to the world and the potential recruits that ISIS has fatally overstepped its capabilities. Faced with the stark reality that they have isolated themselves physically, diplomatically, and morally from the rest of their own region, unable to repair broken equipment, provide fuel for their vehicles, unable to replace expended ammunition, and incapable of performing even the basic functions of a state, it will be clear to all both inside and outside the blockade: ISIS is a regime of losers whose singular accomplishment has been butchering the defenseless, and the impoverishment of the civil populations under its domination.”

Jesus-fuck! Isn’t it nice when someone with a whit of sense speaks clearly to the issue at hand. Full marks go out to this individual and his thoughtful take on what needs to be with ISIS.  For a handy compare and contrast lets hear our twit of a PM on why Canada should go bomb people

“If Canada wants to keep its voice in the world…and we should since so many of our challenges are global…being a free rider means you are not taken seriously. Left unchecked, this terrorist threat can only grow and grow quickly.”

Ah, so not participating in breeding more terror and terrorists in Iraq mean that you are “free rider” and are not going to be taken seriously.  All I can say is:


Is France not being taken seriously for not contributing to the airstrikes that will serve only to push our goal further way?  But wait, there is more apparently bombing people in Iraq is all about saving Canadian Families…

“As a Government, we know our ultimate responsibility… Is to protect Canadians, and to defend our citizens from those who would do harm to us and to our families.”

*sigh*  Ratchet up fear and we’ll our darnedest overseas to protect the homeland.  You’d think by now we would understand this most basic of propaganda principles.  Baa..sorry for the tangent folks, but Steven Harper and the rest of his merry conservative crew of the RCN Clueless forced me to scribe about their relentless vapidity.

So, back on message – Let’s not be disappointed Christmas morning with a knockoff toy, but rather let us have Canada act in the way she knows best – humanitarian aid and assistance – and get the real toy and the real results that will bring us the ending we are anxiously hoping and expecting.

Who could ask for anything more.  A great beach, a good discotheque and an opportunity for martyrdom for the win!


Over a million tourists from around the world visit Sousse, Tunisia every year. And, while the coastal city boasts pristine beaches and world class hotels, recently, hordes of local young men have been leaving fun and sun behind them in favor of joining ISIS in Syria.


geopolitics.nIn the crazy fun house world of imperial politics nationalist regimes are less preferable than radical religious ones.   Noam Chomsky and Andre Vltchek discuss the motivations of empire in the Middle East in this selection from the book: On Western Terrorism – From Hiroshima to Drone Warfare.

“Noam Chomsky:

“Anyhow, going back to the Middle East after World War II.  The British role in Iran was reduced and the US began to take over.  IN Iraq in 1958, there was a so-called independent government, but it was basically British-run, and it was overthrown in a military coup.  A couple of years later the US was able to engineer a coup that overthrew the Nasser-type nationalist government, and that’s where Saddam Hussein comes in.  The CIA handed the new Ba’athist government a long list of Communists, radicals, and teachers, and then they all got assassinated.  Then you come to the present; the US expects to run Iraq.  In Saudi Arabia, the British were the junior partner,  Finally the British pulled out, and left it to the United States.”

Andre Vltchek:

Of course Saudi Arabia is a tremendously destabilizing force in the world and its influence spreads from Bahrain to Indonesia.  In Bahrain there is the fear that the country may be annexed by Saudi Arabia,  The Saudi Army is and out of Bahrain.

Noam Chomsky:

The Saudis are pouring money all over the place to sponsor the most extreme forms of radical Islam – Wahabbism – in Madrasas, in Pakistan, pouring money into Egypt to support the Salafis, all extreme Islamic elements.  The United States is happy with that; it doesn’t try to prevent them.

The idea that the US is opposed to radical Islam is ludicrous.  The most extreme fundamentalist Islamic state in the world is Saudi Arabia, which is the US’s favourite.  Britain also has consistently supported radical Islam.  The reason was to oppose secular nationalism.  US relations with Israel reached their current close state in 1967 because Israel performed the huge service of smashing secular nationalism and defending radical Islam.

A British diplomatic historian, Mark Curtis, wrote a very good book a few years ago called Secret Affairs: British Collusion with Radical Islam (review here).  Curtis went through the British records on Islam.  It turns out the British had consistently supported radical Islamist elements, pretty much was the US has been doing.  They may not have liked it, but they prefer them to the secular nationalists.

Secular nationalists threatened them – they threatened to take over the resources and use them for domestic development and that’s the worst sin; so we support radical Islamists.”

-Excerpt from “On Western Terrorism from Hiroshima to Drone Warfare p.115 – 116

It would seem that Geo-political decisions are quietly being adjudicated by the imperial powers of the world.  It would also seem that they are quite separate from the political fodder being offered to their respective populations.


Fascinating reading about some of the circular nature of events that are playing out in the Middle East as of late.  This excerpt from the Counterpunch article titled Once More, Into the Quagmire.


The Middle East Needs Our Military Might

One can hear, in the reverberating noise of mainstream justifications, a series of claims. Among them is the idea that the Middle East is united in opposition to ISIS. Indeed it is, if you confine your poll to the rotten monarchies of the Gulf, including Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, and Bahrain. Adding Jordan to the mix, this fulsome collection of anti-democratic and largely puritanical theocrats is by some stretch of the imagination supposed to provide Arab and Muslim legitimacy to America’s war.

Fancy that, legitimacy conferred by five of the most authoritarian governments in the Middle East. Thus we are ostensibly defending the cause of freedom by assembling a coalition of five treacherous freedom deniers. One human rights violator is leading a coalition of human rights violators against a new human rights violator whose actions deeply offend it. We are appalled at the sight of beheadings and intend to destroy those who practice it, supported by the leading beheader on the Arabian Peninsula. We bomb ISIS oil depots, claiming they have been criminally seized. This barely a decade after we criminally seized major Iraqi oil contracts, while our troops “guarded” the oil ministry (from ‘insurgents’).

Then there’s the dutifully ignored footnote, a poll conducted by the Arab America Institute, which found that:

“Strong majorities in every country favor U.S. policies that support a negotiated solution to the conflict, coupled with more support for Syrian refugees. Majorities in all countries oppose any form of U.S. military engagement (i.e., “no-fly zone,” air strikes, or supplying advanced weapons to the opposition).”

And most Arabs found President Obama most effective in ending the U.S. presence in Iraq. Perhaps the true patriot could efface all of this were it not for the additional fact that our partners in extermination are the leading financial backers of extremists across the Arab world. Saudi Arabia and Qatar are nothing if not open-air markets for arms merchants, money launderers, and angry mullah mosque builders. You could be forgiven for wondering if half our coalition is helping attack ISIS and then immediately re-arming it when it emerges from the rubble, as it invariably will. This is what’s known in arch capitalist circles as “creative destruction.”


Harper wants Canada to go on airstrikes on Iraq. That’s right. Canada. The nice ones, the peace keepers, the polite people, the bastion of warm-gooey-joy-joy feelings, the “we’re awesome because we can solve problems without bombing people” great white north.  He wants us conducting air strikes.  We have to tell him ‘No.’

Elizabeth May of the Green Party spoke against the airstrikes (video below) and I think she did a good job. There’s a big part of me that wishes she didn’t tread so softly, that she went for the jugular and tore them a new one. That said, I recognize that her overly tactful and diplomatic manor probably has a much better chance of being considered than the enraged reaming I figure Harper needs. In any event, May has one seat while Harper has a majority government. We citizens need to help out on this one.

I have drafted a template letter anyone is free to copy, paste, edit, amend, and send to their MP. Please share it, send it in, or even write your own. Spread the word. Say ‘No’ to airstrikes.


Dear [your MP's name] ,

My name is [your name] and I am a resident of [your riding], a voice you are supposed to represent. I cannot express strongly enough how much I am against Mr. Harper’s proposal to join in the airstrikes in Iraq against ISIS. My opposition to the airstrikes can be summarized in three points:
1) It’s un-Canadian. We are, first and foremost, peace keepers and have a history of peace keeping and are supposed to be the good, nice country. Nice people don’t go on airstrikes.
2) It’s ineffective. The U.S has been running airstrikes against the region for who knows how long and terrorism persists. It doesn’t work.
3) However much we might hurt terrorist organizations with airstrikes (again, history shows it won’t be much) we will hurt innocent civilians much more.
For the good of the people of the world and for the integrity of our nation I ask you to do all you can to convince Mr. Harper that this is the wrong course of action and, at the very least, vote against joining in the airstrikes.
[your name]
[your address]
[your phone number]

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