Friday, March 26, 2004
Ignatieff makes a core case on civillian immunity being the value we need to rescue as a priority in this bloody time. On this I agree though for my part I would say we need go further and to rethink the justification of 'collateral damage' in official warfare.
In brief The Mineseeker Foundation is developing a system to pinpoint landmines by radar from a helium-filled airship. The scheme will cost up to £30m. Richard branson, who part-funded the Mineseeker foundation charity, is asking Ghadaffi to fund it.
There is one small problem and I need to choose my words carefully. So some selection of terms such as Hot Air, Technological Utopianism, publicity oportunity, and utter balderbash come to mind. Also munchikin-level versions of Star Wars daydreams. If you want some discussions on how to do civillian mines clearance in the real world have a look at the archives of the MGM demining list. There is a message thread on a previous sighting of this Baloon, back in 2001 when the promoters were trying to recruit Nelson Mandela as a supporter.
Thursday, March 25, 2004
" Question: Why do liberals like you hate America?
Al Franken's response:
Liberals like me love America. We just love America in a different way. You love America like a 4-year-old loves his mommy. Liberals love America like grown-ups. To a 4-year-old, everything Mommy does is wonderful and anyone who criticizes Mommy is bad. Grown-up love means actually understanding what you love, taking the good with the bad and helping your loved one grow... "
Now I wonder if we could adapt that to the UK...
" Love them or hate them, the Liberal Democrats have interesting and individual lines on the Iraq war, tuition fees, taxation and a number of other issues. Their spring conference was a chance to grab the attention of potential voters, get some good media coverage and clarify the gap between themselves, Labour and the Tories.
Instead, they roll out of their conference with a vague spattering of press coverage - most of it far from positive - and massive speculation over whether their leader has a drink problem."
In short our news management is pretty bad. Can't say I disagree completely with that.
Tuesday, March 23, 2004
Both Juan Cole and Edward Hughes at Fistful of Euros highlight an extraordinary privatisation tender put out for the protection of the Green Zone (administrative HQ) in Baghdad after the US handover. Contractors must:
"... deal with vehicles containing explosive devices, the improvised explosives planted on roads, "direct fire and ground assaults by upwards of 12 personnel with military rifles, machine guns and RPG [rocket-propelled grenade], indirect fire by mortars and rockets, individual suicide bombers, and employment of other weapons of mass destruction . . . in an unconventional warfare setting." To meet that challenge, the bidders' personnel must have prior military experience, and those involved directly in force protection must have "operated in U.S., North Atlantic Treaty Organization or other military organizations compatible with NATO standards."
Quite a mercenary outfit called for.
Wednesday, March 17, 2004
There was and is a profound wrongness about the Iraq war even though there are results and possibilities of great benefits in Iraq. A very thoughtful analysis in Juan Cole's commentary on the uproar after the Spanish Elections , including this quote:
"There is not and cannot be such a thing as a "war on terror." Terror is a tactic. There can be a global counter-insurgency struggle against al-Qaeda and kindred organizations. But a large part of such a struggle must be to deny al-Qaeda recruitment tools and propaganda victories. The way the Bush administration pursued the war against Iraq, as a superpower-led act of Nietzschean will to power, simply made it look in the Middle East as though al-Qaeda had been right. Biin Laden's message was that Middle Easterners are being colonized and occupied by the United States. "
We must make it not so.