Sunday, September 30, 2007
History records some genuinely charismatic leaders - Roosevelt and Churchill, surely; John Kennedy and Bill Clinton. Pierre Trudeau's charisma was palpable, even to his opponents. Then again I suppose you could say that most Germans found Hitler charismatic just as Italians were drawn to Mussolini.
Where are the charismatics today? They seem to be in short supply. There's certainly none in that cold, wooden plank we have for a prime minister, Stephen Harper. You pretty much have to come from the ranks of those who like their undies starched to find anything magnetic in Harpo. Stephane Dion? Well at least he's not cold but he's anything but magnetic either. Jack Layton? No, guys who look like siding salesmen aren't charismatic. Too sleazy.
Obama is heralded as charismatic and he probably is somewhat but not nearly enough to topple the completely anti-charismatic Hillary Clinton. Rudy Guiliani? He tries hard to connect but, let's face it, he's a cross-dressing, serial divorcee. Fred Thompson? Sort of but much too wrinkled and, again, he's not really connecting.
Americans think Ronald Reagan was charismatic but that's largely a delusion based on their refusal to accept what a murderous, lying thug he really was. They also found their current fuhrer charismatic as hell until he sent their desperate hopes and dreams swirling into the toilet of Iraq.
We all need a good shot of charisma every now and then and we're in a real "now" moment. We need an orator, a real firebrand, someone who can stand up on a stage and make us say "yeah, yeah". Haven't we had enough Harpers and Hillaries and even Dions? I've had my fill. We're at a crossroads, a confluence of serious problems that challenge our very civilization. It's time for a genuine leader, one with the spiritual gift of charisma. Someone we can really follow.
The familiar refrain is "when they stand up, we'll stand down" which means our troops will leave Afghanistan when the Afghan army is able to take their place. Fair enough. Why, then, don't we put our money where our cliched mouth is?
During WWII, Canada hosted the BCATP or British Commonwealth Air Training Plan where many thousands of young men from the Commonwealth and occupied Europe were brought to Canada to learn to become combat fliers. It was a fabulous success. Canada was away from the fighting and a great place to teach young men the trade of war.
Why not do the same thing for the Afghan army? Gear up a training programme that could induct, say, a thousand at a time. Bring recruits over here, properly train and equip them (NATO members who shun the fighting could at least pay for their equipment and training) and send them back, already "stood up" and able to begin securing their own country.
Three months of basic, three months of advanced training. 2,000 Afghans at any given time. Four thousand fully trained, properly equipped soldiers returned to Afghanistan every year. We'd more than replace our own people in the first year alone.
It may sound like a dumb idea but I think it beats hell out of treading water over there.
Saturday, September 29, 2007
Living on Vancouver Island can make one a little more sensitive to reports about quakes that hit Japan or Indonesia or the two today that hit Guam. They seem to be happening everywhere along the Rim, but there's one stretch where there's been nothing. As you can see from the map that stretch is coastal British Columbia.
At the risk of tempting fate I'll ask "what gives?" I can't remember the last time I felt a quake here. Maybe we've just caught a break. I hope.
I will not vote for any candidate running on 9/11. We don’t need another president of 9/11. We need a president for 9/12. I will only vote for the 9/12 candidate.
What does that mean? This: 9/11 has made us stupid. I honor, and weep for, all those murdered on that day. But our reaction to 9/11 — mine included — has knocked America completely out of balance, and it is time to get things right again.
It is not that I thought we had new enemies that day and now I don’t. Yes, in the wake of 9/11, we need new precautions, new barriers. But we also need our old habits and sense of openness. For me, the candidate of 9/12 is the one who will not only understand who our enemies are, but who we are.
Before 9/11, the world thought America’s slogan was: “Where anything is possible for anybody.” But that is not our global brand anymore. Our government has been exporting fear, not hope: “Give me your tired, your poor and your fingerprints.”
You may think Guantánamo Bay is a prison camp in Cuba for Al Qaeda terrorists. A lot of the world thinks it’s a place we send visitors who don’t give the right answers at immigration. I will not vote for any candidate who is not committed to dismantling Guantánamo Bay and replacing it with a free field hospital for poor Cubans. Guantánamo Bay is the anti-Statue of Liberty.
I’d love to see us salvage something decent in Iraq that might help tilt the Middle East onto a more progressive pathway. That was and is necessary to improve our security. But sometimes the necessary is impossible — and we just can’t keep chasing that rainbow this way.
Look at our infrastructure. It’s not just the bridge that fell in my hometown, Minneapolis. Fly from Zurich’s ultramodern airport to La Guardia’s dump. It is like flying from the Jetsons to the Flintstones. I still can’t get uninterrupted cellphone service between my home in Bethesda and my office in D.C. But I recently bought a pocket cellphone at the Beijing airport and immediately called my wife in Bethesda — crystal clear.
We can’t afford to keep being this stupid! We have got to get our groove back. We need a president who will unite us around a common purpose, not a common enemy. Al Qaeda is about 9/11. We are about 9/12, we are about the Fourth of July — which is why I hope that anyone who runs on the 9/11 platform gets trounced.
Uncommon wisdom from a man whose shown far too little of it for the past six years.
In the few years Canadian forces have been in Afghanistan, they've gone through several vehicle upgrades.
When we were tooling around the streets of Kabul in the early days, Canadian soldiers often travelled in these mini-jeeps known as the Itlis. If it looks like it might have been created by Volkswagen, it was. The unarmoured Itlis was built for the Canadian army by Bombardier. it quickly showed itself unsuitable for combat conditions in Kandahar.
That didn't last long as the G-Wagon was found just too vulnerable to mines although this one did save the lives of its occupants.
Next up was the South African Nyala, a much sturdier vehicle designed specifically to deflect and survive mine blasts.
Enter the Husky mine clearance system, again from South Africa. The Husky travels on balloon tires which, so the theory goes, create a much lower surface pressure that allow the vehicle to pass over mines. The Husky tows trailers behind it whose sole purpose seems to be to detonate the mines. A similar Husky system has a recovery vehicle that collects the destroyed trailers.
As far as these things go, I'm all for them. We owe it to our soldiers in Afghanistan to get them the very best, the very safest vehicles that we can lay our hands on.
What bothers me about these vehicles is that they reveal the dilemma of trying to fight a counterinsurgency campaign with an inadequate number of troops. It leaves our soldiers so vulnerable outside their bases that they have to travel in great, lumbering convoys of enormous, strange-looking vehicles.
What's the message from this? It's that we don't control the territory we operate through and that the insurgents have enough control that they can place ever-larger, ever more lethal explosive devices to attack us. We don't control the territory because we can't occupy it because we don't have nearly enough soldiers.
Remember, the Taliban are waging a political war, a war for the "hearts and minds" of the peasants. We're giving them carrots (at least when we're not bombing them into oblivion) while the Taliban are beating them with sticks. When we can't keep the Taliban out of their villages, it's a simple decision who they'll be siding with.
The very things that protect us undermine the confidence the villagers place in us. They're already afraid and in our own way we're telling them we are too.
China is scouring the world for oil, natural gas and minerals to keep its economic machine humming. But trade deals cannot solve water problems. Water usage in China has quintupled since 1949, and leaders will increasingly face tough political choices as cities, industry and farming compete for a finite and unbalanced water supply.
"It was a total charade and has been exposed as a charade," the diplomat said. "I have never heard a more humiliating speech by a major leader. He [Mr Bush] was trying to present himself as a leader while showing no sign of leadership. It was a total failure."
John Ashton, Britain's special envoy on climate change, who attended the conference, said: "It is striking here how isolated the US has become on this issue. There is no support among the industrialised countries for the proposition that we should proceed on the basis of voluntary commitments.
Friday, September 28, 2007
According to CNN, that's what Bush told those in attendance at his 2-day climate change conference in Washington. It sounds good, George knows that. It's also meaningless, George knows that too.
Bush isn't offering any specifics about the "problem" and, as for "setting this goal", he hasn't set anything. Now, anyone who has listened to this guy over the past seven years understands that what George says is pretty much meaningless. If he's not lying, he's spinning his message so thoroughly that he might just as well be lying. George w. Bush is a wanton liar. There I said it.
To make any sense of what this you have to shake off the soothing assurances and look at what he's really saying, and not saying. If it isn't there in black and white, indelible ink on paper, it probably isn't there at all. But, what else was he saying?
"It was said that we faced a choice between protecting the environment and producing enough energy. Today we know better. These challenges share a common solution: technology."
"We must lead the world to produce fewer greenhouse gas emissions, and we must do it in a way that does not undermine economic growth or prevent nations from delivering greater prosperity for their people."
Bush claims that his government's figures for 2006 show that that carbon dioxide emissions fell 1.3% while the economy grew 2.9%. CNN, however, points out that Bush has made this very claim in each year up to 2005 and, in each case, GHG emissions actually increased.
Just in case you're wondering, buried in all the claptrap was the solution - intensity based reductions. In a world already plagued by excessive GHG emissions, intensity-based reductions are ineffective, even destructive. However IBR is music to the ears of Big Oil, Bush and his clones like Harper.
Thursday, September 27, 2007
KNOW THAT BEFORE GOD, for the health of our soul and those of our ancestors and heirs, to the honour of God, the exaltation of the holy Church, and the better ordering of our kingdom, at the advice of our reverend fathers Stephen, archbishop of Canterbury, primate of all England, and cardinal of the holy Roman Church, Henry archbishop of Dublin, William bishop of London, Peter bishop of Winchester, Jocelin bishop of Bath and Glastonbury, Hugh bishop of Lincoln, Walter Bishop of Worcester, William bishop of Coventry, Benedict bishop of Rochester, Master Pandulf subdeacon and member of the papal household, Brother Aymeric master of the knighthood of the Temple in England, William Marshal earl of Pembroke, William earl of Salisbury, William earl of Warren, William earl of Arundel, Alan de Galloway constable of Scotland, Warin Fitz Gerald, Peter Fitz Herbert, Hubert de Burgh seneschal of Poitou, Hugh de Neville, Matthew Fitz Herbert, Thomas Basset, Alan Basset, Philip Daubeny, Robert de Roppeley, John Marshal, John Fitz Hugh, and other loyal subjects:
+ (1) FIRST, THAT WE HAVE GRANTED TO GOD, and by this present charter have confirmed for us and our heirs in perpetuity, that the English Church shall be free, and shall have its rights undiminished, and its liberties unimpaired. That we wish this so to be observed, appears from the fact that of our own free will, before the outbreak of the present dispute between us and our barons, we granted and confirmed by charter the freedom of the Church's elections - a right reckoned to be of the greatest necessity and importance to it - and caused this to be confirmed by Pope Innocent III. This freedom we shall observe ourselves, and desire to be observed in good faith by our heirs in perpetuity.
TO ALL FREE MEN OF OUR KINGDOM we have also granted, for us and our heirs for ever, all the liberties written out below, to have and to keep for them and their heirs, of us and our heirs:
(2) If any earl, baron, or other person that holds lands directly of the Crown, for military service, shall die, and at his death his heir shall be of full age and owe a `relief', the heir shall have his inheritance on payment of the ancient scale of `relief'. That is to say, the heir or heirs of an earl shall pay £100 for the entire earl's barony, the heir or heirs of a knight l00s. at most for the entire knight's `fee', and any man that owes less shall pay less, in accordance with the ancient usage of `fees'
(3) But if the heir of such a person is under age and a ward, when he comes of age he shall have his inheritance without `relief' or fine.
(4) The guardian of the land of an heir who is under age shall take from it only reasonable revenues, customary dues, and feudal services. He shall do this without destruction or damage to men or property. If we have given the guardianship of the land to a sheriff, or to any person answerable to us for the revenues, and he commits destruction or damage, we will exact compensation from him, and the land shall be entrusted to two worthy and prudent men of the same `fee', who shall be answerable to us for the revenues, or to the person to whom we have assigned them. If we have given or sold to anyone the guardianship of such land, and he causes destruction or damage, he shall lose the guardianship of it, and it shall be handed over to two worthy and prudent men of the same `fee', who shall be similarly answerable to us.
(5) For so long as a guardian has guardianship of such land, he shall maintain the houses, parks, fish preserves, ponds, mills, and everything else pertaining to it, from the revenues of the land itself. When the heir comes of age, he shall restore the whole land to him, stocked with plough teams and such implements of husbandry as the season demands and the revenues from the land can reasonably bear.
(6) Heirs may be given in marriage, but not to someone of lower social standing. Before a marriage takes place, it shall be' made known to the heir's next-of-kin.
(7) At her husband's death, a widow may have her marriage portion and inheritance at once and without trouble. She shall pay nothing for her dower, marriage portion, or any inheritance that she and her husband held jointly on the day of his death. She may remain in her husband's house for forty days after his death, and within this period her dower shall be assigned to her.
(8) No widow shall be compelled to marry, so long as she wishes to remain without a husband. But she must give security that she will not marry without royal consent, if she holds her lands of the Crown, or without the consent of whatever other lord she may hold them of.
(9) Neither we nor our officials will seize any land or rent in payment of a debt, so long as the debtor has movable goods sufficient to discharge the debt. A debtor's sureties shall not be distrained upon so long as the debtor himself can discharge his debt. If, for lack of means, the debtor is unable to discharge his debt, his sureties shall be answerable for it. If they so desire, they may have the debtor's lands and rents until they have received satisfaction for the debt that they paid for him, unless the debtor can show that he has settled his obligations to them.
* (10) If anyone who has borrowed a sum of money from Jews dies before the debt has been repaid, his heir shall pay no interest on the debt for so long as he remains under age, irrespective of whom he holds his lands. If such a debt falls into the hands of the Crown, it will take nothing except the principal sum specified in the bond.
* (11) If a man dies owing money to Jews, his wife may have her dower and pay nothing towards the debt from it. If he leaves children that are under age, their needs may also be provided for on a scale appropriate to the size of his holding of lands. The debt is to be paid out of the residue, reserving the service due to his feudal lords. Debts owed to persons other than Jews are to be dealt with similarly.
* (12) No `scutage' or `aid' may be levied in our kingdom without its general consent, unless it is for the ransom of our person, to make our eldest son a knight, and (once) to marry our eldest daughter. For these purposes ouly a reasonable `aid' may be levied. `Aids' from the city of London are to be treated similarly.
+ (13) The city of London shall enjoy all its ancient liberties and free customs, both by land and by water. We also will and grant that all other cities, boroughs, towns, and ports shall enjoy all their liberties and free customs.
* (14) To obtain the general consent of the realm for the assessment of an `aid' - except in the three cases specified above - or a `scutage', we will cause the archbishops, bishops, abbots, earls, and greater barons to be summoned individually by letter. To those who hold lands directly of us we will cause a general summons to be issued, through the sheriffs and other officials, to come together on a fixed day (of which at least forty days notice shall be given) and at a fixed place. In all letters of summons, the cause of the summons will be stated. When a summons has been issued, the business appointed for the day shall go forward in accordance with the resolution of those present, even if not all those who were summoned have appeared.
* (15) In future we will allow no one to levy an `aid' from his free men, except to ransom his person, to make his eldest son a knight, and (once) to marry his eldest daughter. For these purposes only a reasonable `aid' may be levied.
(16) No man shall be forced to perform more service for a knight's `fee', or other free holding of land, than is due from it.
(17) Ordinary lawsuits shall not follow the royal court around, but shall be held in a fixed place.
(18) Inquests of novel disseisin, mort d'ancestor, and darrein presentment shall be taken only in their proper county court. We ourselves, or in our absence abroad our chief justice, will send two justices to each county four times a year, and these justices, with four knights of the county elected by the county itself, shall hold the assizes in the county court, on the day and in the place where the court meets.
(19) If any assizes cannot be taken on the day of the county court, as many knights and freeholders shall afterwards remain behind, of those who have attended the court, as will suffice for the administration of justice, having regard to the volume of business to be done.
(20) For a trivial offence, a free man shall be fined only in proportion to the degree of his offence, and for a serious offence correspondingly, but not so heavily as to deprive him of his livelihood. In the same way, a merchant shall be spared his merchandise, and a husbandman the implements of his husbandry, if they fall upon the mercy of a royal court. None of these fines shall be imposed except by the assessment on oath of reputable men of the neighbourhood.
(21) Earls and barons shall be fined only by their equals, and in proportion to the gravity of their offence.
(22) A fine imposed upon the lay property of a clerk in holy orders shall be assessed upon the same principles, without reference to the value of his ecclesiastical benefice.
(23) No town or person shall be forced to build bridges over rivers except those with an ancient obligation to do so.
(24) No sheriff, constable, coroners, or other royal officials are to hold lawsuits that should be held by the royal justices.
* (25) Every county, hundred, wapentake, and tithing shall remain at its ancient rent, without increase, except the royal demesne manors.
(26) If at the death of a man who holds a lay `fee' of the Crown, a sheriff or royal official produces royal letters patent of summons for a debt due to the Crown, it shall be lawful for them to seize and list movable goods found in the lay `fee' of the dead man to the value of the debt, as assessed by worthy men. Nothing shall be removed until the whole debt is paid, when the residue shall be given over to the executors to carry out the dead man s will. If no debt is due to the Crown, all the movable goods shall be regarded as the property of the dead man, except the reasonable shares of his wife and children.
* (27) If a free man dies intestate, his movable goods are to be distributed by his next-of-kin and friends, under the supervision of the Church. The rights of his debtors are to be preserved.
(28) No constable or other royal official shall take corn or other movable goods from any man without immediate payment, unless the seller voluntarily offers postponement of this.
(29) No constable may compel a knight to pay money for castle-guard if the knight is willing to undertake the guard in person, or with reasonable excuse to supply some other fit man to do it. A knight taken or sent on military service shall be excused from castle-guard for the period of this servlce.
(30) No sheriff, royal official, or other person shall take horses or carts for transport from any free man, without his consent.
(31) Neither we nor any royal official will take wood for our castle, or for any other purpose, without the consent of the owner.
(32) We will not keep the lands of people convicted of felony in our hand for longer than a year and a day, after which they shall be returned to the lords of the `fees' concerned.
(33) All fish-weirs shall be removed from the Thames, the Medway, and throughout the whole of England, except on the sea coast.
(34) The writ called precipe shall not in future be issued to anyone in respect of any holding of land, if a free man could thereby be deprived of the right of trial in his own lord's court.
(35) There shall be standard measures of wine, ale, and corn (the London quarter), throughout the kingdom. There shall also be a standard width of dyed cloth, russett, and haberject, namely two ells within the selvedges. Weights are to be standardised similarly.
(36) In future nothing shall be paid or accepted for the issue of a writ of inquisition of life or limbs. It shall be given gratis, and not refused.
(37) If a man holds land of the Crown by `fee-farm', `socage', or `burgage', and also holds land of someone else for knight's service, we will not have guardianship of his heir, nor of the land that belongs to the other person's `fee', by virtue of the `fee-farm', `socage', or `burgage', unless the `fee-farm' owes knight's service. We will not have the guardianship of a man's heir, or of land that he holds of someone else, by reason of any small property that he may hold of the Crown for a service of knives, arrows, or the like.
(38) In future no official shall place a man on trial upon his own unsupported statement, without producing credible witnesses to the truth of it.
+ (39) No free man shall be seized or imprisoned, or stripped of his rights or possessions, or outlawed or exiled, or deprived of his standing in any other way, nor will we proceed with force against him, or send others to do so, except by the lawful judgement of his equals or by the law of the land.
+ (40) To no one will we sell, to no one deny or delay right or justice.
(41) All merchants may enter or leave England unharmed and without fear, and may stay or travel within it, by land or water, for purposes of trade, free from all illegal exactions, in accordance with ancient and lawful customs. This, however, does not apply in time of war to merchants from a country that is at war with us. Any such merchants found in our country at the outbreak of war shall be detained without injury to their persons or property, until we or our chief justice have discovered how our own merchants are being treated in the country at war with us. If our own merchants are safe they shall be safe too.
* (42) In future it shall be lawful for any man to leave and return to our kingdom unharmed and without fear, by land or water, preserving his allegiance to us, except in time of war, for some short period, for the common benefit of the realm. People that have been imprisoned or outlawed in accordance with the law of the land, people from a country that is at war with us, and merchants - who shall be dealt with as stated above - are excepted from this provision.
(43) If a man holds lands of any `escheat' such as the `honour' of Wallingford, Nottingham, Boulogne, Lancaster, or of other `escheats' in our hand that are baronies, at his death his heir shall give us only the `relief' and service that he would have made to the baron, had the barony been in the baron's hand. We will hold the `escheat' in the same manner as the baron held it.
* (45) We will appoint as justices, constables, sheriffs, or other officials, only men that know the law of the realm and are minded to keep it well.
(46) All barons who have founded abbeys, and have charters of English kings or ancient tenure as evidence of this, may have guardianship of them when there is no abbot, as is their due.
(47) All forests that have been created in our reign shall at once be disafforested. River-banks that have been enclosed in our reign shall be treated similarly.
* (48) All evil customs relating to forests and warrens, foresters, warreners, sheriffs and their servants, or river-banks and their wardens, are at once to be investigated in every county by twelve sworn knights of the county, and within forty days of their enquiry the evil customs are to be abolished completely and irrevocably. But we, or our chief justice if we are not in England, are first to be informed.
* (49) We will at once return all hostages and charters delivered up to us by Englishmen as security for peace or for loyal service.
* (50) We will remove completely from their offices the kinsmen of Gerard de Athée, and in future they shall hold no offices in England. The people in question are Engelard de Cigogné', Peter, Guy, and Andrew de Chanceaux, Guy de Cigogné, Geoffrey de Martigny and his brothers, Philip Marc and his brothers, with Geoffrey his nephew, and all their followers.
* (51) As soon as peace is restored, we will remove from the kingdom all the foreign knights, bowmen, their attendants, and the mercenaries that have come to it, to its harm, with horses and arms.
* (52) To any man whom we have deprived or dispossessed of lands, castles, liberties, or rights, without the lawful judgement of his equals, we will at once restore these. In cases of dispute the matter shall be resolved by the judgement of the twenty-five barons referred to below in the clause for securing the peace (§ 61). In cases, however, where a man was deprived or dispossessed of something without the lawful judgement of his equals by our father King Henry or our brother King Richard, and it remains in our hands or is held by others under our warranty, we shall have respite for the period commonly allowed to Crusaders, unless a lawsuit had been begun, or an enquiry had been made at our order, before we took the Cross as a Crusader. On our return from the Crusade, or if we abandon it, we will at once render justice in full.
* (53) We shall have similar respite in rendering justice in connexion with forests that are to be disafforested, or to remain forests, when these were first a-orested by our father Henry or our brother Richard; with the guardianship of lands in another person's `fee', when we have hitherto had this by virtue of a `fee' held of us for knight's service by a third party; and with abbeys founded in another person's `fee', in which the lord of the `fee' claims to own a right. On our return from the Crusade, or if we abandon it, we will at once do full justice to complaints about these matters.
(54) No one shall be arrested or imprisoned on the appeal of a woman for the death of any person except her husband.
* (55) All fines that have been given to us unjustiy and against the law of the land, and all fines that we have exacted unjustly, shall be entirely remitted or the matter decided by a majority judgement of the twenty-five barons referred to below in the clause for securing the peace (§ 61) together with Stephen, archbishop of Canterbury, if he can be present, and such others as he wishes to bring with him. If the archbishop cannot be present, proceedings shall continue without him, provided that if any of the twenty-five barons has been involved in a similar suit himself, his judgement shall be set aside, and someone else chosen and sworn in his place, as a substitute for the single occasion, by the rest of the twenty-five.
(56) If we have deprived or dispossessed any Welshmen of lands, liberties, or anything else in England or in Wales, without the lawful judgement of their equals, these are at once to be returned to them. A dispute on this point shall be determined in the Marches by the judgement of equals. English law shall apply to holdings of land in England, Welsh law to those in Wales, and the law of the Marches to those in the Marches. The Welsh shall treat us and ours in the same way.
* (57) In cases where a Welshman was deprived or dispossessed of anything, without the lawful judgement of his equals, by our father King Henry or our brother King Richard, and it remains in our hands or is held by others under our warranty, we shall have respite for the period commonly allowed to Crusaders, unless a lawsuit had been begun, or an enquiry had been made at our order, before we took the Cross as a Crusader. But on our return from the Crusade, or if we abandon it, we will at once do full justice according to the laws of Wales and the said regions.
* (58) We will at once return the son of Llywelyn, all Welsh hostages, and the charters delivered to us as security for the peace.
* (59) With regard to the return of the sisters and hostages of Alexander, king of Scotland, his liberties and his rights, we will treat him in the same way as our other barons of England, unless it appears from the charters that we hold from his father William, formerly king of Scotland, that he should be treated otherwise. This matter shall be resolved by the judgement of his equals in our court.
(60) All these customs and liberties that we have granted shall be observed in our kingdom in so far as concerns our own relations with our subjects. Let all men of our kingdom, whether clergy or laymen, observe them similarly in their relations with their own men.
* (61) SINCE WE HAVE GRANTED ALL THESE THINGS for God, for the better ordering of our kingdom, and to allay the discord that has arisen between us and our barons, and since we desire that they shall be enjoyed in their entirety, with lasting strength, for ever, we give and grant to the barons the following security:
The barons shall elect twenty-five of their number to keep, and cause to be observed with all their might, the peace and liberties granted and confirmed to them by this charter.
If we, our chief justice, our officials, or any of our servants offend in any respect against any man, or transgress any of the articles of the peace or of this security, and the offence is made known to four of the said twenty-five barons, they shall come to us - or in our absence from the kingdom to the chief justice - to declare it and claim immediate redress. If we, or in our absence abroad the chiefjustice, make no redress within forty days, reckoning from the day on which the offence was declared to us or to him, the four barons shall refer the matter to the rest of the twenty-five barons, who may distrain upon and assail us in every way possible, with the support of the whole community of the land, by seizing our castles, lands, possessions, or anything else saving only our own person and those of the queen and our children, until they have secured such redress as they have determined upon. Having secured the redress, they may then resume their normal obedience to us.
Any man who so desires may take an oath to obey the commands of the twenty-five barons for the achievement of these ends, and to join with them in assailing us to the utmost of his power. We give public and free permission to take this oath to any man who so desires, and at no time will we prohibit any man from taking it. Indeed, we will compel any of our subjects who are unwilling to take it to swear it at our command.
If-one of the twenty-five barons dies or leaves the country, or is prevented in any other way from discharging his duties, the rest of them shall choose another baron in his place, at their discretion, who shall be duly sworn in as they were.
In the event of disagreement among the twenty-five barons on any matter referred to them for decision, the verdict of the majority present shall have the same validity as a unanimous verdict of the whole twenty-five, whether these were all present or some of those summoned were unwilling or unable to appear.
The twenty-five barons shall swear to obey all the above articles faithfully, and shall cause them to be obeyed by others to the best of their power.
We will not seek to procure from anyone, either by our own efforts or those of a third party, anything by which any part of these concessions or liberties might be revoked or diminished. Should such a thing be procured, it shall be null and void and we will at no time make use of it, either ourselves or through a third party.
* (62) We have remitted and pardoned fully to all men any ill-will, hurt, or grudges that have arisen between us and our subjects, whether clergy or laymen, since the beginning of the dispute. We have in addition remitted fully, and for our own part have also pardoned, to all clergy and laymen any offences committed as a result of the said dispute between Easter in the sixteenth year of our reign (i.e. 1215) and the restoration of peace.
In addition we have caused letters patent to be made for the barons, bearing witness to this security and to the concessions set out above, over the seals of Stephen archbishop of Canterbury, Henry archbishop of Dublin, the other bishops named above, and Master Pandulf.
* (63) IT IS ACCORDINGLY OUR WISH AND COMMAND that the English Church shall be free, and that men in our kingdom shall have and keep all these liberties, rights, and concessions, well and peaceably in their fulness and entirety for them and their heirs, of us and our heirs, in all things and all places for ever.
Both we and the barons have sworn that all this shall be observed in good faith and without deceit. Witness the abovementioned people and many others.
Given by our hand in the meadow that is called Runnymede, between Windsor and Staines, on the fifteenth day of June in the seventeenth year of our reign (i.e. 1215: the new regnal year began on 28 May).
Frank Luntz, a leading Republican pollster, said: "This poll reveals what grassroots Democrats have been concerned about. Hillary is their choice ideologically but not necessarily politically and they're afraid she could lose.
"Rudy does better among independents than Hillary does and in the end the candidate that gets the majority of independents wins the election."
Ten years ago, Peter Levene, chairman of Lloyds of London, was skeptical about global warming theories, but no longer. He believes carbon emissions caused by human activity are warming the Earth and causing severe weather-related events. "At Lloyds, we feel the effects of extreme weather more than most," he said in a March speech. "We don't just live with risk -- we have to pick up the pieces afterwards." Lloyds predicts that the United States will be hit by a hurricane causing $100 billion worth of damage, more than double that of Katrina. Industry analysts estimate that such an event would bankrupt as many as 40 insurers.
The conference was opened by State Secretary Condi Rice who got her point across in saying that global warming could be combatted without having to "starve economies." The White House has already said that its initiative isn't about setting targets and certainly not about anything as meaningful as carbon caps. Instead it's a quest to explore reaching 1) an agreement on 2) a process to 3) find a solution to global warming. In other words its a stall to fend off anything approaching action for as long as humanly possible.
The David Suzuki Foundation called the U.S. process as "an empty charade." In attendance is Canada's enviromin John Baird who is undoubtedly eager to get the latest tips on confusing, undermining and dodging anything that might be a setback to Harper's march to Canadian energy superpowerdom.
This is a scam folks and the Harpies are in it up to their tar encrusted necks.
The current, three-man military junta is led by 74-year old General Than Shwe. He's reputed to be superstitious and to consult astrologers. The regime is said to be so paranoid that they moved the capital from Rangoon deep into the jungle to a place called Naypyidaw, a 6-square mile enclave pictured above.
Any sign of dissent within the ranks would be a cause for alarm for the three-man military junta.
But their iron fist days may be numbered. Burmese exiles in Thailand are ecstatic about a letter, supposedly from military officers, supporting the pro-democracy protesters:
"On behalf of the armed forces, we declare our support for the non-violent action of the Buddhist monks and members of the public and their peaceful expression," it said.
"We are all encountering crisis in the economy and in society, political difficulties of various kinds of oppression. Those realities not only affect the public and Buddhist monks. We in the military are also affected."
There's been no proof the letter is legitimate but it is said the junta is worried about the reliability of its own military.
Now I know your guy McGuinty is no firebrand but the pandering "something for everyone" stuff we read coming out daily from Tory Tory smacks of desperation.
Travers has an interesting piece in today's Toronto Star about how Canada's own far right-wing wants to undermine our democracy:
In a new book and seemingly everywhere else, Flanagan, Harper's 2004 campaign chairman, lays bare cynicism that would make even Liberals blush. Distilled to its essence, the archconservative Calgary professor argues that rather than give Canadians the government they want, Conservatives must manipulate voters until they elect one they don't.
Remarkable for its sophistication and expediency, Flanagan's template gains credibility from two campaigns, one losing, one winning. But its immediacy is rooted in an October throne speech that may well end in the government engineering its own defeat as well as in a Tuesday report that the defence department crafted the speech Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai presented to Parliament a year ago.
Pushing the country into an election while blaming the opposition is a standard gambit that only needs to be seen for what it is to be fairly judged. But using non-partisan public institutions, particularly the military, for the political purpose of surreptitiously moulding national opinion is as slippery a slope as appointing a bureaucrat with Tory ties to lead the RCMP.
Both decisions would be worrying even if an inner circle Conservative wasn't making it so clear how far the party will go to gain unfettered power and how anxious it is to fully apply its ideology. But Flanagan is and that adds caveats to even the Prime Minister's most persuasive performances.
Harper in peak form remains the most palatable part of the Conservative cookie. But the dark half still leaves the same old bitter taste, one that would be unhealthy to acquire.
The object lesson seems to be, don't go into the water Jimmy, those are sharks circling at your feet.
The LA Times photo above shows Phil Spector leaving the courtroom after a mistrial was called on his 5 1/2-month long murder trial.
For several days there have been signs the jury was firmly deadlocked. It even caused the judge to intervene in their deliberations by withdrawing an instruction he had given in his charge to the jurors.
The verdict - guilty, 10-2. Good but not good enough. The prosecution has announced it will refile the charges and start over.
"Money makes a difference. This comes down much more to money than fame," Loyola law professor Laurie Levenson said.
Unfortunately, Levenson is absolutely right. As a former litigator I know that, in far too many cases, a litigant gets as much justice as he/she/it can afford. As a lawyer, the better you are, the more you charge. The more you charge, the more upscale becomes your clientelle. There are, of course, exceptions - just not nearly enough exceptions.
Wednesday, September 26, 2007
Does that ring any bells? It was written in August, 1920 by T.E. Lawrence, Lawrence of Arabia.
This is reposted from 24 November last year.
Encouraging news out of the New York Times that the U.S. Army and Marines have figured out that what they're doing in Iraq and Afghanistan doesn't work. It's only taken what, five years, tens of thousands of civilian dead, a trillion dollars? They've blasted and bombed and rocketed and shelled and strafed with abandon. They've used technological wizardry the world has never before seen. It hasn't worked, just as it didn't work in Vietnam. It stopped working before the first tank rolled into Baghdad.
Looking for a new approach, at last, the U.S. military wisely went looking for old advice and they found it in the wisdom of Colonel T.E. Lawrence and other greats of guerrilla warfare. Based on those teachings the Army and Marines have prepared a new field manual based on the nine "representative paradoxes" of counterinsurgency warfare:
1. The more you protect your force, the less secure you are
If military forces stay locked up in compounds (garrisons), they lose touch with the people, appear to be running scared and cede the initiative to insurgents.
2. The more force used, the less effective it is
Using substantial force increases the risk of collateral damage and mistakes, and increases the opportunity for insurgent propaganda
3. The more successful counterinsurgency is, the less force that can be used and the more risk that must be accepted
As the level of insurgent violence drops, the military must be used less with stricter rules of engagement, and the police forces used more
4. Sometimes doing nothing is the best reaction
Often an insurgent carries out a terrorist act or guerrilla raid with the primary purpose of causing a reaction that can then be exploited
5. The best weapons for counterinsurgency do not shoot
Often dollars and ballots have more impact than bombs and bullets
6. The host nation's doing something tolerably is better than our doing it well
Long term success depends on viable indigenous leaders and institutions that can carry on wthout significant support
7. If a tactic works this week, it might not work next week; if it works in this province, it might not work in the next
Insurgents quickly adapt to successful counterinsurgency practices. The more effective the tactic, the sooner it becomes out of date
8. Tactical success guarantees nothing
Military actions of themselves cannot achieve success
9. Most of the important decisions are not made by generals
Successful counterinsurgency relies on the competence and judgment of soldiers at all levels.
Most of these pearls of wisdom can be found in my previous posts. That's not because I'm super smart. It's because they ought to be obvious. This isn't some grand experiment but fundamentals that have been tried and tested in various hot spots in various centuries by various armies, again and again and again.
Counterinsurgency warfare is labour-intensive. To defeat a guerrilla challenge, really huge numbers of soldiers are needed. You also need a viable government that's worth saving.
Contrast this with what we're doing in Afghanistan. We're using small numbers of soldiers that have to hunker down in garrisons. That throws Rule #1 right out the window. The garrison tactic has never worked. Not once, never and it's not going to work now. Garrisons are okay only if you already control the land and simply need to patrol it. If you don't control the land, you're merely abandoning the people and yielding the critical initiative to the bad guys.
Rule #6 is another problem plaguing "the mission" in Afghanistan. The Karzai government is not a viable institution. It is little more than a "legislative power vacuum" propped up by armed foreigners. The government and its bureaucracy are corrupt as are its police forces and army. Ineffectual and corrupt. These are not viable institutions. They don't serve the people and they alienate their people who are then lured toward the only other option, the Taliban.
Assuming the Americans have finally seen the light, it's about time Ottawa did as well. Doing too little, poorly, is worse than doing nothing at all. The political dilemma, however, trumps the military problem. It is political suicide to take the steps necessary in Afghanistan without popular support at home and the Canadian people are already firmly against this effort.
Stephen Harper talks a good game, but it's all talk.
Eating soup with a knife. That's how the legendary Colonel T.E. Lawrence (yes, "of Arabia") described the challenge facing conventional armies in fighting insurgents. Lawrence ought to have known. He led a highly successful Arab insurgency against the Turkish Ottomans who ruled the Middle East until the end of WWI.
Western nations have been struggling with insurgencies for the better part of two millenia. Roman emperor Hadrian crushed the 'Caledonians' of present day Scotland in a fixed battle perfectly suited to his Legions. When it was over, however, the survivors melted away into the hills and came back at the Romans with an insurgency. Eventually Hadrian threw in the towel and built a massive, stone wall from sea to sea that severed Scotland from Britain. You've heard of it, Hadrian's Wall.
Not every battle nor every conquest of a people led to an insurgency. Sometimes there was some political accommodation that smoothed things out. Sometimes the victor just put the losers to the sword, using unrestrained brutality to crush out any idea of insurgency. The first is the diplomatic solution, the second is the military solution.
Today we haven't got the stomach for putting entire peoples to the sword (we're supposed to be 'saving' them after all) and, without that option, we've had a tough time defeating insurgencies with military force. There have been some successes, or at least one: Malaya.
Post-WWII Malaya was beset by a Maoist-insurgency which was eventually defeated by the British. They had a couple of advantages, however. The insurgents were ethnic Chinese, not Malays. They were identifiable and lacked the support of the Malay majority. That left the British with the task of relocating half a million ethnic Chinese to secure camps which enabled them to sever the guerrillas' base of support. After that, British forces used their military superiority to drive the insurgents into the swamps where they pretty much ended their days. Game, set and match.
The Malayan counter-insurgency is an exception because rarely, if ever, are the same advantageous circumstances present. It's not fair to say the Brits got lucky but they did make the utmost of every advantage that fell their way.
Which brings us to Afghanistan:
You've got a bunch of Christian white people in a Muslim, South Asian country. That means we're the ones who stand out. We have an alien culture, an alien language, an alien religion, even alien weapons and equipment and we want to bring them a totally alien political concept, secular democracy.
We're there to prop up a civilian government that never really took hold, on anything remotely approaching a national scale, and which has already succumbed to corruption and weakness. The government hasn't delivered anything for its people and they are already turning their backs on it. Now they're facing the other direction, directly toward the insurgency.
We're up against an insurgency that is well-schooled in guerrilla warfare. Remember what they did to the Soviets or to the British a century before that? If you don't, you can guess. Most NATO members don't really have any experience in this stuff. We take our cues from the Americans and you might ask yourself when they last defeated an insurgency? Maybe it's the blind leading the blind.
Even we don't believe we're there for the ten or twenty years it can take to exhaust an insurgency. The guerrillas will be there forever.
We're trying to dominate a vast territory with piddling numbers of 'boots on the ground.' With all the disadvantages confronting us, we still want to do this on the cheap.
We're even doing things to lose the "hearts and minds" of the local populations. We're not providing them security which leaves them at the mercy of the Taliban. We can't give them security because we don't have nearly enough soldiers to realistically pacify (occupy) any significant amount of territory. Because we don't control the countryside we can't give the people essential services such as water and electricity. They are left to fend for themselves and they bloody well know it.
We go into their poppy fields and destroy their livelihood. Having taken the food out of their families' mouths, we don't give them some alternative means of survival, we just leave. That's all right, the Taliban will give them a helping hand.
What I've described here is just a glimpse at this awful mess. Sorry people, we're just not going to win this one. Support the troops, get'em home.
Documents obtained by the NDP under the Freedom of Information Act suggest that the Canadian military pretty much told Karzai what to say when he addressed Canada's parliament last September:
An internal military report, provided to the federal party under Access to Information, says members of the Canadian Forces strategic advisory team accompanied Mr. Karzai and his Afghan delegation to New York before his arrival in Ottawa last September for a historic address to a joint session of the House of Commons and the Senate.
It says that "at the request of president's office" the Canadian military team "prepared initial draft of president's address to Parliament Sept. 22."
The note goes on to say that: "It was noted that key statistics, messages and themes, as well as overall structure, were adopted by the president in his remarks to joint session."
NDP defence critic Dawn Black said the report is an example of how the Conservative government is trying to manipulate public opinion for the country's military involvement in Afghanistan.
"President Karzai's address to Parliament was an elaborately staged political stunt by this government to sell Canadians on the combat mission in Kandahar," said Ms. Black, who called Mr. Karzai a "front man" for the Conservative government.
Karzai a stooge for Harper? Well, the way things are going for him at home in Kabul, maybe this will give him a new career opportunity.
I'd love to see the stats for the last five years because I expect it would be worse and that largely due to the expansion of the environmentally devastating Athabasca Tar Sands.
Our newly-green prime minister, Harpo himself, talks the talk about greenhouse gases and climate change but puts the lie to his claims by supporting the five-fold increase in tar sands production to produce petroleum for the American market.
In each case it appears that our side put the boots to the Taliban when the guerrillas chose to attack in relatively conventional combat. The Taliban were said to have used small arms, rocket propelled grenades and mortars. Our side, of course, has all that stuff along with tanks, armoured personnel carriers, artillery, attack helicopters and jet strike fighters - so it's a matter of when they stand up, we knock them down.
What's not clear is just what the Taliban were up to. When the outcome of this sort of fighting is so predictable, why did they do it? The NATO reports claim in each firefight it was the Taliban insurgents who attacked. Unless they're simply insane - and I doubt that - there must've been something they hoped to achieve that would warrant the mauling they would receive from NATO firepower superiority. Who knows?
“This is serious,” said Wadir Safi, a member of the faculty of law and political science at Kabul University. “It’s dangerous for the government and the nation.” The showdown, he said, is eroding whatever public confidence in the elected leadership remains.
But the president has long been dogged by criticism of ineffectiveness and chronic indecision. Government corruption and poppy cultivation are rampant and public services remain a wreck; food prices are soaring, unemployment remains high and resurgent Taliban forces in the south are pressing toward this capital.
As public confidence in Mr. Karzai has evaporated, opposition has escalated sharply from within the government, led by regional power brokers who feel he has marginalized them.
Tuesday, September 25, 2007
Nathan Hornburg at 24-years old has been killed in Afghanistan. It seems he was struck by mortar shrapnel while exposed in trying to fix a thrown tread from a Leopard tank. The tank broke down, the insurgents watched and waited, Hornburg got out to repair the tread, the bad guys fired, he died.
According to the commander, General Guy Laroche, "The terrain was very rough and (tank treads falling off) is something that we see on a regular basis." They sure do because tanks aren't suited to running patrols across rough terrain. They're fighting machines, not patrol vehicles.
What were they doing when this happened? According to Laroche, it was a one-day sweep to improve security in Panjwai province. A sweep. It's what you do when you don't have enough soldiers or equipment to fight an insurgency effectively. You sweep through. The bad guys keep the initiative and their control of the territory. They decide when to fight and when to simply lay low until you're gone. If they see a vulnerability - a tank with a thrown track, for example - they take advantage of it.
Why are we squandering the lives of young men like Hornburg on this farce of a mission? Read Petraeus' counterinsurgency field manual, FM 3-24. You can get the whole thing in PDF format on the web, free. It prescribes a ratio of 20-25 counterinsurgents for every 1,000 of the civilian population. We would need anywhere between 15-25,000 combat troops on the ground to meet that ratio in Kandahar province. Instead we're handing the job to a 1,000-strong battle group.
Supporting the troops isn't setting them up to lose by saddling them with a fight they have neither the numbers nor the equipment to win. If you support "the mission", try supporting the troops. Demand that the government get off its sanctimonious, jingoistic arse; recruit, train and properly equip the small army that's needed for this job and then get on with it - or - support the troops and leave.