I'm back

I've returned from my holiday and will resume blogging again shortly.

The weather here in New Zealand has been shockingly terrible (raining) - although we got a few good days over Christmas.

I have seen the terrible tsunami than has struck southern Asia, and already people are criticizing Bush for not making a statement quickly enough, and some others are also leveling criticism at the U.S.A for being 'stingey'.
Even in the scope of one of the worlds worst disasters, some people still find room for pettiness.

On a brighter note, I hope everyone has a great New Years. There are many things to look forward to in 2005.

I bought a book for Christmas that gives a history of all the conflicts in the Middle East ranging from the original British mandate over Israel to the latest removal of Saddam in Operation Iraqi Freedom. It was quite interesting and relatively unbiased (as history books usually are) and I shall write something about it soon.


Merry Christmas

I'm going away today for a week, so my blogging will be light.

Merry Christmas everyone and have a safe and happy holiday.


Israel-Palestine - One State

Coming from a country where we have two very difference ethnic races bound together by a constitution - I believe the solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict is not a two state solution, but a one state solution.
Yes even here in New Zealand we have problems between the Maori and Pakeha (as they call us) - but nothing on the scale of what is happening in Israel.

I don't think a two state solution is ever going to work for a couple of reasons.
The first reason is who gets Jerusalem? They both want it and under a two state solution they both can't have it.

The second reason is that many of the Palestinians just want to go home - where their ancestors came from or where there family came from. Many of these places are in Israel. Of course they can still live there, but as Israeli citizens not Palestinians. This isn't entirely fair however, and is like the British dividing up New Zealand into two parts, one for the Maori and one for the British - New Zealand never would have worked under that arrangement. The Palestinians the Maori people have a spiritual connection to their land.

However the big difference between New Zealand and the Palestine/Israel situation is that Maoris make up only around 13% of our population - so the British were naturally quite happy to 'share' the country with them. We outnumbered them after all so having a democratic government was to our advantage (funny how it's turned out now though).
Over there, almost as many Palestinians as there are Israelis - and sharing equal power with their most hated enemy might be a tough thing to swallow for many of them.

I'm sure many people disagree and may feel I'm being too sympathetic to the Palestinians, however I'm not.
I'm not advocating that the Palestinians get to claim Israeli land like the Maoris can claim land here, and I certainly don't feel that Israel should make any concessions until the terrorism stops.
What I am advocating if these people really want to live in peace they are going to have to live together under a democratic state with one law for all the people, a state that they can all claim as their own and live where they want.

Is this ever going to happen? I really don't know, while almost too much damage has been done for these people to live together, reform is coming to the Middle East one way or another.

The 20 most annoying U.S. liberals - 2004 edition

Check out this link.

"I actually did vote for the $87 billion before I voted against it." -- John Kerry

The greatest military machine ever

This is a highly debatable topic for all you military/history buffs out there. Who do you think was the greatest military machine and why?

Some contenders:

The Macedonians
The Romans
The Ottoman Empire
The Mongols
The Spanish
The British/English
The French under Napoleon
The Wehrmacht (Germany WW2 army)

The book is still out on the U.S. military so I've intentionally left them off the list, and I've probably missed a few military machines that have made a large impact - so feel free to add any I've missed in the comments section.

As for my pick, I'd have to go with the Romans, with the Mongols a close second.

The Romans put the art in the art of war, they had superior doctrine whether it be tactics, operations, training, logistics, or strategy to almost anyone else at the time and for a long time to come.
Many other armies on the list also had the same, but unlike the Romans they didn't have it for hundreds of years and many lacked the Romans ability to adapt.

The Romans were almost an unbeatable fighting force from around 100BC-200AD maintaining a dominance that not even the U.S. military has today.
The Macedonians under Alexander were a great military machine but it was more to do with the man than the machine. The Mongols were also a great military machine but they did not have the longevity of the Romans.

Not only that, many of the things that made the Roman army great was not to be matched until hundreds of years later. For example, the Romans first invented the Professional Army, something that only started being used to the full in the end of the 20th century.
Roman siege weapons were superior to most of their medieval counterparts for many years after the Roman empire collapsed and Roman soldiers not only were highly trained warriors but also excellent engineers.

The Romans also in their early days suffered what should have been decisive defeats but had the will and resolve keep going on to victory. The second Punic war saw the Romans suffer defeat after defeat against Hannibal, losing up to 80,000 men (debatable figure, but the battle definitely was a great loss to the Romans) at the battle of Cannes alone.

After the Roman empire fell Europe went into the 'dark ages' not just from a social aspect, but also a military aspect as well.

Post your comments on who you feel was the greatest military machine ever and why.


Iraq - victory or defeat? Part II

In one of my earlier posts, I stated that a victory in Iraq means successful elections and Iraqi security forces who can take care of their own country.

this article, Gen. George W. Casey Jr the Commander of the Multinational force says something similar:

"My view of winning is that we are broadly on track to accomplishing our objectives, which is a constitutionally elected government that is representative of all the Iraqi people and with Iraqi security forces that are capable of maintaining domestic order and denying Iraq as a safe haven for terror," the general said. "And I believe we will get there by the end of December '05, and I believe we are on track to get there by December of '05."

Of course, U.S. commanders have expressed optimism before.

The General raises a good point however, and after a recent discussion with someone in another blog about 'Iraq deteriorating out of control' I think it's relevant:

"They don't have to do much," he said. "A car bomb a day in Baghdad or on the airport road sends a symbol that the insurgency is very powerful, when in actuality I don't believe that they are.
It's a classic technique of the urban insurgent. They are trying to provoke us to do something that will make us look like we're over-reacting to them."

In other words - what is happening in Iraq is not something the U.S. can't deal with and Iraq certainly isn't heading towards "Vietnam 2" either.

People seem to forget that this is a war and in war people die, soldiers die, things blow up, setbacks happen.
The reason people forget this somewhat obvious fact is that after years of the western public and more importantly the press being exposed to mainly air wars (Gulf War 1, Kosovo, and Afghanistan to a certain extent) many of us seem to think that the relatively small number of U.S. casualties in Iraq means it's a 'quagmire' and the situation is 'out of control'.

Another reason is that the press has been given much more access to what is happening on the ground than before, and this is the first time in a long time the United States has stuck around to 'finish the job'.
Things are not going smoothly that is for sure, but who really expects it to be so? This isn't a Hollywood movie following a script.

The biggest measure of success or failure however is not the bodycount of U.S. soldiers, dead insurgents, dead Iraqi civilians, dollars, or anything like that - a point which the press misses. It is definitely not about reaching or not reaching a deadline before date n.
The biggest measure of success is the resolve of the American people and their leader, and also that of the Iraqi people.

The U.S. won their victory in November and despite all the violence the Iraqis will most likely win theirs in January.

Blame Israel

Why are all the Arab leaders obsessed with the Palestinian-Israeli conflict? Arab leaders themselves hardly are coming up with road maps or seem to be in any great hurry to solve the problem.

The answer is simple, it's because Israel (and it's ally the United States) is an easy scapegoat for the Arab leaders to fuel the frustrations of their own societies away from them.

Thanks to 2Slick, I came across this great article written by Haim Harari. It is long, but it is well worth the read. It highlights some of the problems in the Middle East - and why Israel is a scapegoat.

Click Here to read.

"Why do I put aside Israel and its own immediate neighborhood? Because Israel and any problems related to it, in spite of what you might read or hear in the world media, is not the central issue, and has never been the central issue in the upheaval in the region. Yes, there is a 100 year-old Israeli-Arab conflict, but it is not where the main show is.

The millions who died in the Iran-Iraq war had nothing to do with Israel. The mass murder happening right now in Sudan, where the Arab Moslem regime is massacring its black Christian citizens, has nothing to do with Israel. The frequent reports from Algeria about the murders of hundreds of civilian in one village or another by other Algerians have nothing to do with Israel. Saddam Hussein did not invade Kuwait, endangered Saudi Arabia and butchered his own people because of Israel. Egypt did not use poison gas against Yemen in the 60's because of Israel. Assad the Father did not kill tens of thousands of his own citizens in one week in El Hamma in Syria because of Israel.
The Taliban control of Afghanistan and the civil war there had nothing to do with Israel. The Libyan blowing up of the Pan-Am flight had nothing to do with Israel, and I could go on and on and on."

Germans can't "stand up" to their own women

More insanity from Europe:

German men told they can no longer stand and deliver

German men are being shamed into urinating while sitting down by a gadget which is saving millions of women from cleaning up in the bathroom after them.
The WC ghost, a £6 voice-alarm, reprimands men for standing at the lavatory pan. It is triggered when the seat is lifted. The battery-operated devices are attached to the seats and deliver stern warnings to those who attempt to stand and urinate (known as "Stehpinkeln").

"Hey, stand-peeing is not allowed here and will be punished with fines, so if you don't want any trouble, you'd best sit down," one of the devices orders in a voice impersonating the German leader, Chancellor Gerhard Schroder. Another has a voice similar to that of his predecessor, Helmut Kohl.

Also a while back that in Sweden they wanted to ban all male urinals because they annoyed feminists:

Young women in Sweden, Germany and Australia have a new cause: They want men to sit down while urinating. This demand comes partly from concerns about hygiene — avoiding the splash factor — but as Jasper Gerard reports in the English magazine The Spectator, "more crucially because a man standing up to urinate is deemed to be triumphing in his masculinity, and by extension, degrading women.

"A feminist group at Stockholm University is campaigning to ban urinals from campus, and one Swedish elementary school has removed them.
Some Swedish women are pressuring their men to take a stand, so to speak. Yola, a 25-year-old Swedish trainee psychiatrist, says she dumps boyfriends who insist on standing. "What else can I do?" said her new boyfriend, Ingvar, who sits.


Quick Update

Sorry for the lack of posts over the weekend, I've had a very busy weekend so far as it's getting close to Christmas and all that.
I had my work function last night on the 33rd floor of The Metropolis and I'm still recovering, meanwhile my apartments fire alarm just went off *groan*.


Simterror `05

I have volunteered to represent the European Union in Silentrunnings "Simterror `05", where bloggers get a chance to play the role of nations and see how we do.

Since my posts as the head of the EU will be somewhat different to my normal posts, all my Simterror `05 posts will be headed with this:

I don't want my readers to think im going all EU on them.

Things kick off 1st of January, although I hope not too early in the morning.

Now, the first thing I must do is hunt down David from my Appeasement 101 post and name him as foreign policy minister of the EU. ;)

Appeasement 101

I entered a discussion with another poster on Freudian Slippers, and somehow the conversation turned to the use of force. This is what the poster, David (not to be confused with me) had to say:

I see I am outnumbered by the warmongers who think you can force freedom on a country through the judicious use of the lives of the American military as well as the lives of innocent civilians we accidentally kill while freeing them from despotic rule. And if you would state that fewer people have died at the hands of our military than would have died had Saddam still been in power, I will say that of all those who died at Saddam's hands, *none* of their blood would be on the hands of the US. Now we have the blood of thousands of innocents on our hands. If you say that innocent blood must be spilt in the pursuit of freedom, I question the freedom that you are pursuing.

Global capitalism would be the most wonderful thing in the world. It would increase the prosperity and freedom of all. Spreading it at the point of a gun poisons the well.
Loving freedom does not come part and parcel with the need to love the state and what it does.

This is an attitude that I encounter quite a lot. It is the attitude that the blood of not even one innocent person justifies anything, and it is quite an ideological attitude.

If everyone thought like David there would be no war, no suffering, etc. It is a noble thought indeed. David believes we are on a collision course with utopia, that humanity has evolved so much that why should we war? Why should we fight?

Well David, we are not on a collision course with utopia, human thought and understanding has evolved but human emotions have not. There is still anger, hate, greed, and corruption in the world and much of it in the Middle East.

Peace is not the rule, it is the exception to the rule. The peace David has enjoyed in his country he gained through force and it has been maintained through force. That is why even peaceful nations still maintain an army. Many innocent people died so David could be free to criticize his government, and David is exercising that freedom without a second thought.

You are not born with the right to be free, but everyone should be entitled to that right. If I was born into Iraq I would not have the same rights that David has. Those rights were taken away from Iraqis by force, and they can only be given back with force.
But no, from David's point of view, as long as millions of Iraqis are dying and someone else is killing them - that's fine.

This thinking stems from that fact that David probably believes that Saddam was not a threat to his country or himself. David also probably believed that Osama Bin Laden was not a threat 10 years ago, and David may never even have heard of him.
If Bill Clinton decided to invade Afghanistan to deal with Osama after the first WTC bombing, David would probably have been against that invasion - despite the fact that it may have prevented 9/11 and hence the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq.

Am I advocating the killing of innocents? No. But innocent people do die either way. They die if you do nothing and they die if you do something.
Innocent people go to jail and some die, but should we do away with laws? Absolutely not - as long as they do more good than harm.
Is America doing more good than harm in Iraq? Absolutely.

However David is not wrong and neither am I. David's attitude is needed, it is needed to keep 'warmongers' like me in check. The difference is when David's attitude is needed.

People like David have had their time, their time was when the Berlin wall came crashing down. However when the Twin Towers came crashing down, it is now our time.


A message to the people of Iraq

These times are confusing for many of you, and indeed, many of us around the globe.

These are also times of turmoil, strife, and suffering. These things are not new to you, as you have suffered these things for the past 35 years.

However, now things are different.

The prices you are paying indeed in blood has a purpose. That purpose is a noble one, it is your freedom. It is your ability to chose the path that you want to go in life. It is a path not only for you but your children too.

But you are not there yet. Many of you feel humiliated that a power came across the sea and freed you when you could not free yourselves, a foreign army. Occupiers.
Many of you - thankful that Saddam has gone - resent this army for the gift it has given you and you feel shame.

Do not feel this way, for you are helping us. You in your pursuits of freedom and democracy are helping us through our struggles. For if Iraq and Afghanistan become the shining pillars of democracy in a tyrant infested region, it offers hope for all your people and ours.
The United States may have overthrown Saddam - yes, but this is your chance to overthrow tyranny and help the United States. The U.S. depends on your will and resolve, it depends on your success. Your lives and fate may be in the hands of America right now, but remember, their fate and ours are also in your hands.

This is your one chance to reach out and take freedom once and for all. Do not squander it, do not hate those who come to your country not only in their interest, but also in yours.

Many of us, having been born into freedom take it for granted. If you succeed in your struggle for freedom, against all odds, despite all the violence, you will humble us all.

The NYT: A cesspool of Racism and Anti-Semitism

The Jewish Times is reporting this little gem:

NYTimes Workers Charge Racism, Anti-Semitism

Nine New York Times employees, including a Jewish man, are charging that they were subjected to racial and religious discrimination at the paper's Edison, N.J., printing plant.

Their lawsuit, filed in Middlesex County Superior Court on Nov. 3, includes complaints that supervisors aimed racial and religious epithets at employees or ignored such epithets coming from others and that Hispanic, black, and Jewish employees were denied seniority rights, promotions and pay scales commensurate with their years of service as well as plum assignments that would have enabled them to pick up overtime pay.

The newspaper maintains "a hostile and pervasive work environment" based upon "the widespread use of racial and religious epithets" and the "disparate treatment" of employees "based upon race, color, national origin, and religion," according to the 16-page complaint.

The Times management has denied the allegations.

Need I say more?

(Hat tip : Michelle Malkin)

Ruth from Freudian Slippers has a excerpt from an article comparing anti-Americanism to racism.

There is an interesting breed of person quite prominent in NZ. These are the types of person who would (rightly) show disgust at an abusive racist and sexist comment.They would (again, quite rightly) point out that to judge an entire gender or race on a stereotype or anecdotal evidence is both incorrect and immoral. Yet many of these people would have no qualms with a statement such as "Americans are stupid."

The point this raises is that while it is not OK to make fun of someone's race, why is it OK to make fun of a culture? A people? This does point out the double standards that many people have in the world, and it's part of being Human.

My opinion on the matter is to hell with racism and anti-Americanism. You should be able to say what you want, and of course, be judged by your peers accordingly (but let me make myself clear, if you're working in a professional enviroment, such as the NYT, you should treat your staff with equal professionalism).
We're adults, we should be able to handle what other people have to say without having to worry about 'hurting someone's feelings'.
The more we start getting into what you can and can't say, the more we start to look like the U.K.

Ruth brings up a valid point though:

I find this type of racism rather prevalent in the blogosphere. There is a fine line between rational passion and irrational zealotry, and that line is often crossed. The bloodthirstiness of some individuals from both sides of the aisle is appalling.

If you want to be taken seriously as someone of respect, you must try your hardest not to have double standards. Many of us on the right accuse the left of being driven by propaganda and hate. This is self evident by many of the anti-war, anti-bush protestors and their hateful messages.
But we ourselves on the right must be careful that we do not fall into the same trap, and must maintain our integrity on all matters.
By all means we should be able to say what we want to say, but at the end of the day the quiet observers among our communities need to look at us and think 'they are the sensible ones', rather than 'they are two sides of the same coin'.

Going to the U.K? Better watch your tongue

That's right folks. Speech supression is back, communist style!

This time however all those who were rooting for communism (and lost) have now switched to Islam.

British National Party leader detained after calling Islam 'wicked faith'
Tue Dec 14, 1:54 PM ET
LONDON (AFP) - The leader of the rightwing British National Party(BNP), Nick Griffin, was arrested Tuesday after he called Islam a "vicious, wicked faith" in a television documentary.
AFP/File Photo
Griffin, 45, was arrested on suspicion of "incitement to commit racial hatred" and held for questioning by police in northern England before he was released on bail several hours later.
When asked if he considered Islam a "vicious, wicked faith", Griffin urged reporters to study the Koran for themselves before saying: "There are aspects of that religion which are wicked."
He then condemned the treatment of women under Islam.

The BNP, which won 800,000 votes but no seats in the European elections in June, charged the arrest was part of a "crude" bid by Prime Minister Tony Blair (news - web sites)'s government to win back Muslim votes lost over his war in Iraq (news - web sites).
A BNP spokesman said four non-uniformed police officers raiding the family farmhouse in Wales "awoke the Griffin household from their sleep" early Tuesday.
Griffin was the 12th person arrested in connection with the investigation into the BBC documentary aired in July.

The BNP's founding chairman John Tyndall, 70, was arrested on suspicion of the same offense on Sunday following a speech he made in the northwestern city of Burnley in March.
The documentary, screened in July, featured secretly filmed footage showing BNP activists confessing to race-hate crimes and Griffin condemning Islam as a "vicious, wicked faith".
Speaking on July 15, when the BBC documentary was screened, Griffin accused the program's makers of selectively editing the speech he is seen delivering, and challenged the authorities to prosecute him.

He said if Home Secretary David Blunkett "wants to put me on a show trial about whether we're entitled to warn about the dangers of Islam, I will be absolutely delighted."
Any jury would be shown the full speech, in which he makes clear that the BNP was not targeting individuals or communities, he added.
The BNP spokesman denounced the arrest as an attack on freedom of speech.
"The BNP doesn't hate anyone, we don't hate anyone's race or religion," the spokesman added.
"If we want to debate whether or not religious diversity is a good thing for this country, we should be allowed to do so without the police banging on the door," he said.
A statement on the BNP website stated that "this action against three BNP members in the past 36 hours is nothing less than a crude attempt to buy back the Islamic vote" from the opposition Liberal Democratic party before a general election likely in May next year.
It charged that the arrests were intended to disrupt the party's operations and to intimidate its members.

It accused four Blair "stormtroopers" of disturbing the family home as it was being decorated for Christmas, just 10 days away, and causing one of his daughters to suffer a "violent asthma attack" induced by stress.
It said the four police officers were "ransacking the home looking for material in relation to the alleged offense."

Whether or not Islam is a wicked faith is beside the point, the fact that this man has been arrested on some foppish grounds for saying what he believes in is extremely disturbing.

This is beyond speech codes at institutions at work places, this is now a democratic government that supposedly stands for freedom arresting someone for exercising their freedoms.

This is just further proof in my mind that if America and Europe are diverging apart socially, America is certainly still on the right track, for now.

Just wait, Hizbala or some such channel will soon be allowed to broadcast in Britian spewing forth anti-semantic tripe with no repercussions at all.