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Some Quotes

“But while we’ve won the wars it’s been harder to win the peace. The lesson is that while there are military victories there never is a military ‘solution’. There’s only military action that creates the space for economic and political life.”  – David Miliband, British Foreign Secretary

Oops. This is going to be hard to get round.

Senators Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton skipped Senate’s discussion of the Iraq war yesterday, choosing instead to carry out their campaigns for president. Although both Senators are known to be pro-pull out, this action will be hard to explain. I mean, which representative skips an important meeting for a largely personal appointment? It’ll seem like fishy business to the most demanding of critics, and even someone like this writer who supports their ideas finds it hard to excuse what they did. This incident is of the sort which will spawn nasty criticism and deal an underhanded blow when the candidates are at their weakest (if they ever will be). Not catastrophic or disaster-inducing, but very irritating when brought up because nothing can be said against it, and yet it’s so minute when compared to deeds by other candidates.

Here’s a list of articles about this. Most are similar, though.

NY Times political blog

The Raw Story

US Presidential Race 2008

They’re gonna have to do some explaining.

Have you ever wondered exactly why we’re in the midst of this destructive war? Why do wars happen? Civil wars, petty territorial wars, large-scale ones like WWs I and II… and now the Iraq War. Is it even a war anymore? I’m not exactly so certain about what’s going on there anymore. Sure, soldiers dying, civilians dying, militants dying… it’s all rather meaningless when you take a good look at it. Wouldn’t it be better and less bloody if all the world leaders could just sit down at a conference table and have a good chat?

But of course we can’t do that. We humans are far too violent. It’s no wonder science-fiction writers the world over have taken things from an alien point of view and shown the world just how violent and needlessly cruel we can be. It’s not just the loss of life. It’s damaging to our development too. Oil fields, factories, latest technological labs… war blows everything to smithereens. Of course technology does sprout from war, but such technology just begets more violence. It’s rather primitive, in a way. A civilised world would be one which could discuss incendiary issues without resorting to violence. I don’t see any reason why we should mash each other up, other than reducing world population figures.

I realise I’m ranting, but current news reports have fizzled into something almost routine. Morning: have a cup of tea/coffee over the latest news from Iraq – [number] militants killed, [number] American soldiers wounded; then in the afternoon, you cook yourself a lunch while listening to Bush and the Congress’ new decisions to remove the soldiers from Iraq in the far future.

Now that we’re on the topic, how many of you actually believe that the American soldiers should leave Iraq now? This sounds like a stupid question, especially to those of you who have relatives or children or siblings out there, but if the soldiers leave right away without providing additional backup the country would very likely fall into chaos. Al Qaeda and the Sunnis and Shi’ite s would be falling over themselves to get a piece of the cake. So to all the people yowling for the boys to “come home, come home”, that’s something to chew on.

I’m starting to find the American elections a little boring. Scandals and criticisms over the smallest things, why, at times it seems that the elections are more of a gathering place for gossipmongers than concerned citizens: remember the recent weirdness of Chris Matthews concerning Fred Thompson’s odour? It seems that Matthews wasn’t the only one jabbering on about a senator. Other people and even news offices have been praising candidates according to their body language – Ann Romney’s naturalness, Barack Obama’s ears… sounds ridiculous, no?

I’ve always wondered why people can’t seem to get along. Not just on the friends-and-enemies level, but also country-to-country. People who don’t know how to fit in are thought of as weird, but the masses never realise that all those “weird” idiosyncrasies they have are precisely meant to attract attention because they feel unaccepted. And outcasts aside, there seem to be tons of terrorists swarming round the world. People insult them – “Oh, they have goo for brains.” but there has never been any evidence to show that they are truly stupid. Just because you fear them, it doesn’t mean you should demean them. They truly believe in what they are doing, albeit in a sick twisted sort of way. It’s equivalent to a pious man gone down the wrong track. Show some respect for their intelligence, (I don’t care if you respect them as an individual or not) and they’ll be more willing to change their way of thinking.

I really believe that more people should read Speaker for the Dead by Orson Scott Card. It addresses the issue of compassion towards a stranger.

Demosthenian Hierarchy of Exclusion described: “…Demosthenes’ History of Wutan in Trondheim… The Nordic language recognizes four orders of foreignness. The first is the otherlander, or utlanning, the stranger that we recognize as being a human of our world, but of another city or country. The second is the framling… This is the stranger that we recognize as human, but of another world. The third is the raman, the stranger that we recognize as human, but of another species. The fourth is the true alien, the varelse, which includes all the animals, for with them no conversation is possible. They live, but we cannot guess what purposes or causes make them act. “

If we humans are still unable to put ourselves in another person’s shoes, no matter how terrifying he is, and find the reasons why he does what he does, why should we even begin to search for sentient extraterrestrial intelligence? One misunderstanding, and the human race loses its mind, survival instinct kicking in. We may, like Ender, commit xenocide without even knowing why the buggers killed a couple of humans. Only years after the incident will someone realise that perhaps the buggers didn’t see killing the way we do, and then the human race overflows with remorse for what they’ve done.

Only, when a chance comes for them to redeem themselves, they forget everything they learnt from the previous episode and begin fighting for survival again, even if it means blasting an entire sentient species to hell. At this rate, humans will really be the only species left in the universe, all too caught up in our lives to find out the hows and whys and moral rightness of things.

At least right now the chance of us finding an extraterrestrial bacteria is higher than us finding a sentient species. Unless it’s a sentient extraterrestrial bacteria.

Bloggers have brought up the topic of Iraqi militants being called “Al Qaida fighters”. Glenn Greenwald follows this topic in his article Everyone we fight in Iraq is now “al-Qaida” and quotes various sources, including bloggers on the frequency of the word substitution and evidence from specific news agencies.

But precisely because of those dangers [of being a news reporter in Iraq], these reporters rely almost exclusively on the narratives offered by U.S. military officials selected by the Bush administration to convey events to the press. Almost every one of the articles referenced above is shaped from start to finish by accounts about what happened from American military commanders (with, in isolated instances, accounts from Iraqis in the area). That is inevitable, though such accounts ought to be treated with much greater skepticism.

The word “Al Qaida” has been used so exclusively for Iraq insurgents in some news sources that a person relying on just CNN, for instance, would think that the American military is now fighting the very same terrorist group that hijacked the planes on September 11. In fact I think even the most informed of people would be subtly and unconsciously made to think of Iraq militants as al Qaida militants after seeing the word everywhere. It’s like having an irritating song drilled into your skull. You know it’s there and you can’t rid yourself of the impression it has made in your brain. If this usage of a substitute word were a mistake by a confused Bush and unthinking political leaders and news journalists, it would be laughable. It is certainly possible that some news journos and editors are mistaken about it, but Bush? What exactly are Americans paying him for? To distort his and the public’s perception of reality? Not very likely, I should think.

But what is not inevitable is to adopt the patently misleading nomenclature and political rhetoric of the administration, so plainly designed to generate support for the “surge” (support for which Gordon himself admitted he has embraced) by creating the false appearance that the violence in Iraq is due to attacks by the terrorist group responsible for 9/11. What makes this practice all the more disturbing is how quickly and obediently the media has adopted the change in terms consciously issued by the Bush administration and their military officials responsible for presenting the Bush view of the war to the press.

Posts from other bloggers who previously noticed this same trend demonstrate how calculated it is and pinpoint its obvious genesis. At Kos, BarbInMD noted back in May that Bush’s rhetoric on Iraq had palpably shifted, as he began declaring that “Al-Qaida is public enemy No. 1 in Iraq.” The same day, she noted that Bush “mentioned Al-Qaida no less than 27 times” in his Iraq speech. As always, a theme travels unmolested from Bush’s mouth into the unexamined premises of our newspapers’ front pages.

If ever a question comes up about the reliability of news sources, this would be a perfect example for it. How are we supposed to know what’s real and what isn’t if all of our sources are wrong? Imagine wrong information sweeping around the whole of America in hours. It’s almost like a virus. If I’d been surfing CNN, I wouldn’t have known I was reading a journalist’s screwed-up image of reality if I hadn’t already read Greenwald’s article.

The sub-headline reports 68 militants dead, but the title?

Well. A lesson from this: check your new sources, everyone, and make it more than three.

The media has been in a frenzy over the Salman Rushdie uproar. Everywhere you go on the net you see pictures of enraged Muslims holding banners and shouting for Rushdie’s death. A lot of sarcastic comments also happen to come after the pictures.

Doesn’t this remind you of a word starting with a P? Propaganda? What is the point of all those pictures? These sites and forums aren’t discussing the situation anymore; they’re condemning it without further thought because it seems ridiculous to them. They’re calling the Muslims names like Mooselimbs and making fun of them, and not in a pat-on-the-shoulder friendly kind of way. Getting caught up in the fringe of the storm and going berserk and egoistical over this matter is not going to help matters. It’s equivalent to doing the exact same thing the protesting Muslims are doing – fighting for your side of the battle without thinking.

Firstly, not all the Muslims think the same way. The ones you see in the photos are part of the Mob. Mobs don’t think; they follow leaders. They don’t reason; a single spark in the midst of a volatile situation and off they go. I don’t mean this as pertaining to just one particular religion. All humans, religious or not, act the same way when faced by a situation that threatens their existence or something they treasure. Religion, being the single most uniting factor in about all of human history, is particularly explosive in nature. Look at all the wars and conflicts in our years since we evolved into homo sapiens. Every single conflict concerning religion has devastating effects on humanity, compared to wars over ammunition in the Cold War, or civil wars over territory. Think of the Christian/Catholic war in Ireland. Religious wars are the one of the most scarring, because it plays on people’s faith in their religion. You can’t have an economic fanatic, but you can have a religious fanatic. A religious Mob – those are the most terrifying sorts of protestors, because they provoke outrage and anger simultaneously and they won’t listen to reason. Furthermore, they are mistaken for representing all the citizens of the country.

INDONESIAN MUSLIM ACADEMIC ZANNUBA ARIFAH CHAFSOH ON ANTARA NEWS AGENCY

We deeply regret and strongly criticise the knighthood… But we cannot revoke his right to express his views. Even those who do not believe in God have rights. They cannot be punished or killed or subjected to arbitrary acts. Islam does not teach violence.

INDONESIA’S SUARA MERDEKA

We ought to worry that the fanaticism and motivation of hard-line groups will once again revive as a result of the “provocation”.

ABEER MISHKHAS IN SAUDI ARAB NEWS

I think we Muslims are wasting our time protesting about what happens in other countries when the whole Islamic world has far bigger problems to face within its own borders… We should stop causing trouble outside our borders, no matter how strongly we feel.

This is an extract from a BBC News article which you can view here.

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Taking off

I’ll be taking part in a camp for the next 3 days till Saturday so don’t expect updates. Perhaps I’ll be able to squeeze in time? Unlikely.

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