International politics

Every once in a while we come across the most inane discussion. It all reminds us of a movie we once saw in which the central message was «one should not confuse babies and angels». Now of course the writer and the director wanted us to think that it was ok to do so, but, we think the initial missive was bang on. It appears that in our unexplained absence good old Cherniak has taken the opportunity to get dumber while his shadow boxing intellectual opponent Mr. Scully has taken the opportunity to become the dumbest faux intellectual in the history of blogging.

WTF you ask? Well apparently Cherniak and Co. have been having a debate on what is the definition of terrorism. Good topic we think. Too bad the intellectual neophytes in question do not have the capacity for abstraction—and as such definition—(fuck we should have gone to law school) (fuck that, what a nightmare of social interaction!) And yes we just put two distinct but connected thoughts in separate brackets. Oh well let us say good night to the English Gestapo while we are here.

Again, WTF you ask? Well if you have not taken the time to explore the links provided above; here we give the skinny on the situation. Mr. Scully’s final definition for terrorism was «those who kill without a just cause.» And of course our intellectual pimp squeak Cherniak finds the definition a little too inclusive!

Katel should release an album entitled: “faux intellectual shit parade“ Look the issue is really simple. Terrorism is the tactic of an inferior force who believes that through random violent conflict one can further their political objective. It is distinguished from war by the fact that those who wage war are usually understood to be officially (state) sanctioned combatants who use violence to further their political agenda. Neither definition has any referent to a just cause.

The precipitate to our definition is that Mosses was a terrorist too! How do you like those apples?


Our hope is that we will be able to carry a series of posts from a Canadian traveling in Afghanistan doing some investigative reporting.  Our first concern is for their safety.  Stay tuned!

Afghanistan and Iraq: the same war
by David Orchard and Michael Mandel

Four years ago, the U.S. and Britain unleashed war on Iraq, a nearly defenceless Third World country barely half the size of Saskatchewan. For 12 years prior to the invasion and occupation, Iraq had endured almost weekly U.S. and British bombing raids and the toughest sanctions in history, the “primary victims” of which, according to the UN Secretary General, were “women and children, the poor and the infirm.” According to UNICEF, half a million children died from sanctions-related starvation and disease.

Then, in March 2003, the U.S. and Britain ­ possessors of more weapons of mass destruction than the rest of the world combined ­ attacked Iraq on a host of fraudulent pretexts, with cruise missiles, napalm, white phosphorous, cluster and bunker-buster bombs, and depleted uranium (DU) munitions.

The British medical journal The Lancet published a study last year estimating Iraqi war deaths since 2003 at 655,000, a mind-boggling figure dismissed all too readily by the British and American governments despite widespread scientific approval for its methodology (including the British government’s own chief scientific adviser).

On April 11, 2007, the Red Cross issued a report entitled “Civilians without Protection: the ever-worsening humanitarian crisis in Iraq.” Citing “immense suffering,” it calls “urgently” for ” respect for international humanitarian law.” Andrew White, Anglican Vicar of Baghdad, added, “What we see on our television screens does not demonstrate even one per cent of the reality of the atrocity of Iraq …” The UN estimates two million Iraqis have been “internally displaced;” another two million have fled ­ largely to Syria and Jordan, overwhelming local infrastructure.

An attack such as that on Iraq, neither in self-defence nor authorized by the United Nations Security Council, is, in the words of the Nuremberg Tribunal that condemned the Nazis, “the supreme international crime.” According to the Tribunal’s chief prosecutor, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Robert Jackson, such a war is simply mass murder.

Most Canadians are proud that Canada refused to invade Iraq. But when it comes to Afghanistan, we hear the same jingoistic bluster we heard about Iraq four years ago. As if Iraq and Afghanistan were two separate wars, and Afghanistan is the good war, the legal and just war. In reality, Iraq and Afghanistan are the same war.

That’s how the Bush administration has seen Afghanistan from the start; not as a defensive response to 9-11, but the opening for regime change in Iraq (as documented in Richard A. Clarke’s Against all Enemies). That’s why the Security Council resolutions of September 2001 never mention Afghanistan, much less authorize an attack on it. That’s why the attack on Afghanistan was also a supreme international crime, which killed at least 20,000 innocent civilians in its first six months. The Bush administration used 9-11 as a pretext to launch an open-ended so-called “war on terror” ­ in reality, a war of terror because it kills hundreds of times more civilians than the other terrorists do.

That the Karzai regime was subsequently set up under UN auspices doesn’t absolve the participants in America’s war, and that includes Canada. Nor should the fact that Canada now operates under the UN authorized International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) mislead anyone. From the start, ISAF put itself at the service of the American operation, declaring “the United States Central Command will have authority over the International Security Assistance Force” (UNSC Document S/2001/1217). When NATO took charge of ISAF, that didn’t change anything. NATO forces are always ultimately under U.S. command. The “Supreme Commander” is always an American general, who answers to the U.S. president.

Canadian troops in Afghanistan not only take orders from the Americans, they help free up more U.S. forces to continue their bloody occupation of Iraq.

When the U.S. devastated Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia (1961-1975), leaving behind six million dead or maimed, Canada refused to participate. But today Canada has become part of a U.S. war being waged not only in Iraq and Afghanistan, but also in a network of disclosed and undisclosed centres of physical and mental torture, like Guantanamo Bay in illegally occupied Cuban territory. What we know about what the U.S. government calls terrorism is that it is largely a response to foreign occupation; and what we know about American occupation is that it is a way the rich world forces the rest to surrender their resources.

General Rick Hillier bragged that Canada was going to root out the “scumbags” in Afghanistan. He didn’t mention that the Soviets, using over 600,000 troops and billions in aid over 10 years, were unable to control Afghanistan. Britain, at the height of its imperial power, tried twice and failed. Now, Canada is helping another fading empire attempt to impose its will on Afghanistan.

Canadians have traditionally been able to hold their heads high when they travel the world. We did not achieve that reputation by waging war against the world’s poor; in large part, we achieved it by refusing to do so.

Canada must ­ immediately, and at the minimum ­ open its doors to Iraqis and Afghans attempting to flee the horror being inflicted on their homelands. We must stop pretending that we’re not implicated in their suffering under the bombs, death squads and torture. This means refusing to lend our name, our strength and the blood of our youth in this war without end against the Third World. THE END


DAVID ORCHARD is the author of The Fight for Canada: Four Centuries of Resistance to American Expansionism and ran twice for the leadership of the Progressive Conservative party. He farms at Borden, SK and can be reached at tel 306-652-7095,,

MICHAEL MANDEL is Professor of International Law at York University’s Osgoode Hall Law School in Toronto and author of How America Gets Away With Murder: Illegal Wars, Collateral Damage and Crimes Against Humanity. He can be reached at tel 416-736-5039,

Chavez celebrates May Day with the Nationalization of Oil.  What is Alberta doing for May Day?

Chávez poses dilemma for oil companies

By Benedict Mander in Caracas and Carola Hoyos in London

Published: April 30 2007 21:54 | Last updated: May 1 2007 03:12

Venezuela’s military might will be on full display on Tuesday as Hugo Chávez, the country’s president and a former paratrooper, celebrates winning back Venezuela’s natural resources in the oil-rich Orinoco for the people.

”Venezuela’s privatisation of oil has come to an end,” Mr Chávez said recently, promising to hoist the national flag over installations in the area that boasts the largest heavy oil deposits in the world.,_i_rssPage=ff3cbaf6-3024-11da-ba9f-00000e2511c8.html

By Goodwin Ginger

There is nothing necessarily wrong with being sentimental when reporting on a foundational national myth: Vimy Ridge is where the First World War turned in favour of the Allies, and where an independent Canadian identity was forged. National Myths are useful insofar as they serve to give us a sense of a national and collective identity. Moreover, they serve to recall the great sacrifices and horrors that were endured to create that identity.

Yet to hear some tell the story of Vimy Ridge, you would think World War One was staged just so Canada could forge an independent identity. Indeed, if we are to go by the CBC’s coverage of Vimy, all we would know is that a lot of Canadians died taking a strategically important hill in a War that had apparently no causes or consequences. We would not know that besides the 3,500 hundred Canadians that died taking that god forsaken hill, that untold millions of others died in the Great War. Nor would we know why and what those Canadians, and untold other millions, were fighting and dying for. The platitudes coming from the national broadcaster and right wing commentators would have us believe that it was a fight about freedom. Oh really? Freedom from, and freedom to what?

True for some elites it was a war about freedom to get into and extend their colonial empires and imperial trading blocks. For other elites like the British and the Ottoman’s it was about preserving their decaying empires. It was a product of an interstate system in which national elites created insecurity in other nations by engaging unrestrained arms procurment and development along side gross militarism instead of diplomacy.

But for workers and farmers, those it must be said who did 95% of the fighting and dying, it was at best about the siren call of nationalism, duty, and loyalty. These are all virtues in most conditions, but when cynically manipulated by elites almost always deadly vices. Indeed, is that not how our good neighbours to the south got sucked into Iraq?

To recognize the utter senselessness of the First World War, its horrendous waste of human life and sick manipulation of farmers’ and workers’ loyalty and sense of duty, in no way undermines their valour. But if Vimy, and the slaughter of Canadians, is to have any meaning, beyond serving as a mere stage for a Canadian national identity play, the national broadcaster and the Canadian media owe Canadians a larger context through which to understand how it was that so many young Canadian farmers and workers came to loose their lives in Europe; and how it was that a European war managed to suck broad swaths of the entire world into its bloody and sadistic vortex.

If Vimy is only remembered as the stage upon which a Canadian identity was forged we will have utterly dishonoured the memory of how it was our valiant soldiers came to fall at a little known ridge called Vimy.

Wolfowitz partner’s pay rise sparks protest

By Krishna Guha in Washington

Published: April 5 2007 02:38 | Last updated: April 5 2007 02:38

World Bank staff are protesting over reports that Paul Wolfowitz’s partner, Shaha Riza, a bank official, was given a promotion and pay increase to $193,000 when she was seconded to the US State Department.

In an e-mail circulated to all bank employees, the staff association on April 3 called on its management and board to explain “what appear to be violations of staff rules in favour of a staff member closely associated with the president”.

Staff Association Update
April 3, 2007
Dear Colleagues,

Since publication of the March 28, 2007 “In the Loop” column in the
Washington Post, the Staff Association has been inundated with
messages from staff expressing concern, dismay and outrage. The Staff
Association has looked into the concerns and would like to inform
staff of what we have found. At the same time, we call on Senior
Management and the Board to clarify what appear to be violations of
Staff Rules in favor of a staff member closely associated with the

Bending the Staff Rules

At issue are the terms of external assignment for Ms. Shaha Ali Riza,
formerly a Senior Communications Officer in the Middle East and North
Africa Region (MNA). According to the Postand a subsequent New
Yorkerarticle, the Board’s Ethics Committee determined that Ms. Riza,
who was linked romantically with Mr. Wolfowitz, should be placed on
external assignment so as to avoid what Staff Rules define as a de
factoconflict of interest, when one partner supervises another.
Accordingly, Ms. Riza went on external assignment, with pay, on
September 19, 2005. The Staff Association has not been able to
determine who drew up and approved the terms of the external
assignment. However, we have been able to verify that they are
grossly out of line with the Staff Rules.

Promotion: Despite the “complement control” that limits the number of
staff at grades GH and GI, Ms. Riza was given a non-competitive
promotion to level GH on the day that she left on external
assignment. Promotion from GG to GH is supposed to be competitive,
vetted and approved by the relevant sector board and is supposed to
be against a specific position (Staff Rule 5.05). This promotion
clearly does not conform to the procedures.

Promotion Increase: Staff Rule 6.03 stipulates that salary increases
upon promotion should be the greater of (a) 3-12% of the Market
Reference Point (MRP) of the new grade, or (b) the amount necessary
to bring the salary to the minimum of the new grade. Ms. Riza’s
promotion increase should have been determined by the former
calculation. However, she was given a promotion increase of 28% of
the MRP – more than double the amount allowed by the Staff Rules.

Annual Increase: Since the performance of staff members on external
assignment cannot be assessed and compared to that of their
colleagues, Staff Rule 6.05 directs that their annual salary
increases be set at the average percentage applied to adjust the MRPs
for grades GA – GI. For FY07, the average percentage was 3.7%; Ms.
Riza’s annual increase this FY amounted to 7.5%.

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