Friday, December 23, 2005

Well, that was the year, that was...

Probably to the profound relief of the blogosphere, the probligo is making his last post for 2005.

Over the past three weeks posting has been somewhat limited - for reasons not requiring debate but involving a very sick and elderly computer at home and the need to surreptitiously (I LUV that word) sneak the odd post out under the nose of my boss...

In a few hours time, then, I am heading home to celebrate Christmas with my wife, our two children, their partners, and our one (thus far) grandchild. Note that I am celebrating Christmas despite professing to be atheist. There is a reason for this - and it has nothing to do with the religious connotations of the festival. My daughter could give you at least three different names for the winter solstice celebration and when they were used in Britain and the Celtic part of Europe. It is a label. Far more importantly for me it is a time when we can "gather the clan" and renew the family bonds. To that end, wife and I are travelling north to the Hokianga and there will visit my sister and any other hangers-on that may be about. Among them I was hoping would be my step-mother who has decided to shift down to Whangarei. So, IF we are able to see her, it will be one of those "we are passing through" visits rather than a liesurely afternoon under their oak and chestnut and pohutukawa trees with the accompaniament of a couple of bottles of good communion wine. Why communion wine? She is an Anglican Minister, retired, re-employed and soon to be retired again. At the age of 75 she deserves to be retired.

There is another reason why I want to see my step-mother. She is a link to an Anglican retreat just south of the Hokianga. It is maintained by three nuns and a monk. She has told me of the "unique" stations of the Cross that they celebrate and I am hoping that I will be allowed to attend and record (photograph) the Stations and the celebrants. As I recollect, one of the stations is a tree that has been struck by lightning at some time in the past and has survived, a small waterfall (a "rill" in old English), and a standing stone.

But that is for the future...

Iraq - who did not see the results from the beginning? Riven in three on "racial" and "religious" divisions. Remarkable lack of foresight there on someone's part.

When will Bush be impeached? What grounds will the Senate use if he is? How much damage will be done to the Repubs if he is?

How much longer will Tony Blair last as Leader of the British Labour Party?

Will the NZ economy crash? Probably. How hard? It is not going to be easy, that is for sure.

For myself, I have had a good year. I have met many to whom I would never have "spoken" without the marvels of this technology. There is much in this world that exists only as shadows on the edge of my imagination. Between me and that shadowness are the many people whose paths have crossed mine. Some are close to me and I see them clearly, some are further off and some are almost part of the shadows. For this year I hope (if I can turn my computer into a modern-day Lazarus) to try and put some shape to the unknown.

So, to any who pass this way -

You all have a very happy Christmas. Celebrate the festival in your own ways. Most of all enjoy your families while you may, and never let them become part of the shadows.

Then have yourselves a most prosperous and enjoyable 2006.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Merry Christmas, Mr Bush!!

Well, it is the Christmas present that George has been wishing for. He has prayed for it. He has spoken to God about it on many occasions.

George has achieved democracy in Iraq.

Instead, the opposite has occurred. The Iraq War and occupation has brought Iran and Iraq together. Indeed, the effects of the American push for democracy in other parts of the Arab Middle East are also hurting Israel. In Egypt, the anti-Western Muslim Brotherhood have increased their presence in the Egyptian parliament. On the West Bank the anti-Israeli Hamas organization has won control of several major towns in local elections there and is expected to win at least 40 percent in the coming parliamentary vote. Israeli officials, who are not great fans of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, have warned the Americans that their drive toward "regime change" in Damascus could end up bringing to power radical anti-American (and anti-Israeli) Islamic groups.

Finally, Iraq is adding to U.S. security problems, Patrick Cockburn writes “Islamic fundamentalist movements are ever more powerful in both the Sunni and Shia communities. Ghassan Attiyah, an Iraqi commentator, said: 'In two and a half years Bush has succeeded in creating two new Talibans in Iraq.'” Just what we need! And, if the Shia with their electoral victory consolidate their hold over the military and police and direct their attacks on Sunnis, and the Sunnis respond – we can expect the magnetic effect of Iraq – pulling anti-US terrorists to the county and the opportunity for training in terrorism to increase. A decade from now U.S. citizens should expect someone whose family or friends were killed in the U.S. occupation to strike back. Every day the U.S. remains an occupying force more people who hate Americans and more danger in the world are created.

One piece of good news from the vote: Ahmad Chalabi, the former Bush Administration favorite who was critical to misleading the United States into war, won less than a half of 1 percent of the vote in Baghdad, very likely denying him a seat in the Council of Representatives. Of course, there are still the votes to count from Iraqis in the United States but in Iraq he does not seem to have much support.

Now what, I wonder, is George going to do now that those ungrateful Iraqis have abused that golden opportunity for true democracy and elected a largely Shi’a government; sorry, make that a government riven and divided on largely religious and tribal grounds?

Worst of all, what is George going to be dreaming tonight, now that Mustaq al Sadr has been elected to the Iraqi government. What action will he have to take tomorrow or the next day given that al Sadr’s Mahdi forces are likely to become the backbone of a new “Police Force”.


ALL, I mean ALL of the “PTL for democracy” posts at Jersey Wing Nut have mysteriously disappeared. Very strange. Very strange indeed. I think I am one of the few leaving comments over there.

More importantly, how many of the rabid right-whingers are still lauding George’s Iraq democracy this morning…?

I wonder...

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Am I an anti-Semite II ...

I (quite improperly) posted the following as a comment over at Dave Justus's place. I have repented and asked him to delete it.

Greg is the person who accused me of being "anti-Semitic" because I described Israel as "a nation founded on terror".

Note too, that the following information has been taken from a post dated 13 December, I made my comment on 8 December.

So to it, this is what I stuck into Dave's place (quite wrongly)...

Greg, you might want to take an objective look at this page.

A sample -

So while it is undeniably terrible that the al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades would deliberately target civilian passengers on an Israeli bus, the men who murdered Lior Azulai, Nathaniel Havshush, Bnayahu Jonathan Zuckerman, Rahamiam Rami Duga, Yaffa Ben-Shimol, Ilan Avisedris, Yehuda Haim and Yuval Ozana in that attack are not a different “kind of people” from you or me or the soon-to-be-Israelis who unloaded Ibrahim Mohammed Ahmed El Haj, Mahmoud Hassan Attieh, Saleh Mohammed Suleiman, Abdul Fattah Hussein, Mahmoud Mustafa Khalil, Mohammed Ali Eissa, and Hassan Mohammed Eissa from a Palestinian truck in February 1948, lined them up in an orange grove and murdered them:


And the members of Palestinian Islamic Jihad who killed five innocent Israeli shoppers in an attack on a mall just last week committed a terrible murder, but they’re not different in kind from the members of the Irgun who committed a terrible murder in blowing up the shoppers at Ramle Market:

and the sources…

(1) Source CO 537/3855: Confidential reports from the British Criminal Investigation Dept (C.I.D.) to the U.K. Colonial Office on Outrages in Palestine, 1947-48. Now declassified and open to the public at the U.K. National Archives in Kew, London.
(2) Source CO 537/3856: Confidential reports from the British Criminal Investigation Dept (C.I.D.) to the U.K. Colonial Office on Outrages in Palestine, Feb-Mar 1948. Now declassified and open to the public at the U.K. National Archives in Kew, London.

(3) Source WO 261/573: Confidential quarterly reports from British Army H.Q. in Palestine to the U.K. War Office, Jan-Mar 1948. Now declassified and open to the public at the U.K. National Archives in Kew, London.

(4) Source WO 275/64: Confidential fortnightly newsletters from the H.Q. of the British Sixth Airborne Division in Palestine to the U.K. War Office, Mar 1947-May 1948. Now declassified and open to the public at the U.K. National Archives in Kew, London.

(5) Source CO 537/3857: Confidential reports from the British Criminal Investigation Dept (C.I.D.) to the U.K. Colonial Office on Outrages in Palestine, Mar-Apr 1948. Now declassified and open to the public at the U.K. National Archives in Kew, London.

(6) From United Nations Security Council Official Records, Supplements for 1948 - Palestine
But then, I guess, that is the kind of FACT that you just dont read…


OK, so there it be.

On reflection, and whilst putting this together, I want to thank Lawrence of Cyberia for his very timely post.

There is much there on the nature and purpose of terrorism which ties to the Tanaka piece I wrote on the other day. For example -
Palestinian terrorists do not attack civilian buses because they are a different species to the rest of us, they attack civilians because Israel enjoys overwhelming military superiority over them, and choose buses in particular because buses are uniquely vulnerable: they are numerous and therefore difficult to defend individually; they carry a large number of people in a small enclosed space which maximizes casualties; and they run on a published timetable, which makes them easy to ambush. In short, Palestinian militants choose to attack civilian buses for the same reasons that militants with a political agenda target civilian buses in Sri Lanka, and in Iraq, and in Colombia, and in Kosovo, and for the same reasons that Zionist militants targetted Palestinian civilian buses in British Palestine, which they did, by the way, with a regularity that makes Hamas et al look like a bunch of slackers.

But it would be unfair of me to say this much and not give Lawrence's conclusion...
Blowing up a bus for political ends is a criminal act, not an ontological insight into how Zionist Jews were in 1948 or how Palestinian Muslims are in 2004. As awful as it is, this is simply how sub-national groups – Zionists, Islamists or anyone else - fight an unconventional war. It’s “a way people wage war when they don't have F-16's or armored divisions”, as William Pfaff put it. You can only claim otherwise by consigning all the inconvenient atrocities committed by your own side down the memory hole. And the fact that A.H. would pick a bus bombing as proof that Palestinians are a kind of people you can't negotiate with – apparently totally unaware of the popularity of that very tactic among Zionists in Mandate Palestine - shows just how effectively we have done just that in the case of Israel and the terrorist campaign that helped to establish it. (I can't count how many times I have heard discussion of terrorism in Mandate Palestine reduced to "Ah yes, the King David...).

I’m not dredging all this up as some kind of academic historical exercise, or as an opportunity to say “yes but other people do it too”. It matters that we remember what we would rather forget, because it is only our deliberate forgetfulness over our own atrocities that allows us to pretend that the I/P conflict is a zero sum game of good versus evil, rather than a political conflict over land that is capable of a compromise solution.

If we remember that “our” side committed terrorism, not because they were morally defective, but as a tactic in support of political goals in an unconventional war, then we will be able to appreciate that just maybe the same is true of “their” side today. So get off your high horse, A.H., admit that nobody has clean hands, and stop looking for reasons not to negotiate.

All the emphasis is unashamedly mine. I stand by my comment that Israel is a nation founded in terrorism. If that makes me anti-JEWISH so be it.

Final note - in the papers this past week

Christ was not a Jew. His first tongue (and his last words) were Aramaic. That, I am told, would make him a Palestinian.

The tail end...

...of the elections has just come to a close in Parliament.

The High Court was hearing a petition by Winnie the Pooh that the Left Testicle had in fact jumped higher than the right and consequently had exceeded fair play and expenditure limits.

The ruling has been announced that the Left Testicle had in fact been below the bar, and that he can have a beer on his way home tonight to celebrate.

National MP Bob Clarkson has kept his Tauranga seat after two judges found he did not overspend on his election campaign.

New Zealand First leader Winston Peters, who Mr Clarkson ousted from the seat in the September 17 election, had lodged an electoral petition alleging he breached electoral law by knowingly spending more than $20,000 during the campaign.

Chief High Court Judge Tony Randerson, with Justices Lowell Goddard and Graham Panckhurst, heard the petition in the High Court at Tauranga late last month and Parliament's Speaker, Margaret Wilson, today delivered their findings.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

I have been called "anti-Semite"...

before, most recently by "Greg" over at Dave Justus' place. (BTW no criticism of Dave, he handled it very well).

OK, so here I go being anti-Semitic again.

This here, just stinks. It is as rank, nay more so than trying to get false NZ passports for Mossad agents.
Maori politicians and health advocates are outraged that a tobacco company named a brand of cigarettes Maori Mix.

The Maori Smokefree Coalition (Te Reo Marama) said Philip Morris was marketing a brand of cigarettes called Maori Mix in Israel. The box featured a quasi Maori design and a map of New Zealand.

Te Reo Marama spokesman Shane Bradbrook said the use of the Maori name and the image was a defilement and unbelievable considering the high smoking rate among Maori.

"Would we have them here and call them Jewish Mix? It would be as offensive to the people in Israel as it is offensive for Maori."

Philip Morris said the cigarettes were a short-term special edition and were no longer available anywhere in the world, Newstalk ZB reported this morning. The company said the packs were intended to "communicate open-minded acceptance of cultural diversity".

Te Reo Marama was notified about the brand by a Pakeha New Zealander living in Israel who bought a packet home with her.

Now if someone wants my respect, it is freely given when deserved.

If anyone wonders why I have little respect for the state of Israel, remember this and the little fracas over fraud to obtain a NZ passport just for two.

And a note to Phillip Morris, I just hope that someone, somewhere, puts a light to the end of your product... "end" there being the operative word. As in "finish".

Typical F***ing Americans.

Monday, December 12, 2005

The future? - Vanuatu IV

I wrote in Vanuatu III about the changes that we noticed from eleven years back and commented upon the increasing overseas investment in the tourism infrastructure.

Along the same lines, there is another change in that same sector which I want to look at in this post.

Talking with resort staff, taxi drivers, even stall holders in the Vila Market, we were struck by the number of people from outlying islands. The greatest numbers seemed to be from Melaluca and Tanna, with a smaller number from Santo in particular.

That of itself should not be a major worry, until we asked one Tannese taxi driver how often he saw his family. “Once a year, at Christmastime, for three or four days.” He had two children, aged three and two months. He is hoping to save enough that he can bring his family to Vila. I hope that he can as well.

But there are two other factors developing at the same time. Both of these are of far greater concern looking forward.

The first of these is the development of three (that we saw and noted) separate “residential estates”. Sounds quite grand said like that. The problem is that the buildings that are being erected are long, concrete, barrack like lines of very small flats. We asked about one and was told that they are intended as “single mens’ accomodation”. They looked for all the world like the “kamps” built in South Africa during the apartheidt years to form the accomodation suburbs of Pretoria and Jo’burg.

The second was a comment made to us by two people, one Melanesian the other white, that there was never any trouble in Vila. Well, not until all those men started arriving from Tanna looking for work.

That brought me up very short. It is exactly the same kind of feeling that brought the “trouble” in the Solomon Islands with the exodus of the Melaita peoples to Honiara. That exodus started with the twin pressures of seeking a working income and the sale of Melaita land to foreign interests – for tourist resorts. The compound effect of the latter was that it displaced far more people than could be employed by the resorts.

The recent volcanic eruption, and the displacement of people that will cause on Ambae is not going to help in the short term. In the longer term there are three islands where just that one factor could play a major part in the population drift to the main island of Efate.

Friday, December 09, 2005

A rough guide to NZ politics

I have been meaning to post this since the elections. It has been getting too heavy around here so perhaps the time is right.

Helen Clark - Auntie Helen
Cullen - Wol
Jim Anderton - Comrade Jim
Steve Maharey - The Dean
Phil Goff - Dean of Invisible Runes; Ponder Stibbons
Annette King - Nursey
Pete Hodgson - Eeyore
Mark Burton - Gonefora
Ruth Dyson - Kanga
Chris Carter - Christopher Robin
Nanaia Mahuta - Nanny
Horomia - Heffalump
Benson Pope - Bunsen, Tennisey
Trevor Mallard - Blackadder
David Cunnliffe - Piglet

Brash - Brash Donnie
John Key - Jonkey
Lockwood Smith - Quizmaster; The Joker
Bill English - The Bursar; Invisible
Gerry Brownlee - The Archchancellor
Wayne Mappe - Baldrick
Bob Clarkeson - Left Testicle, Bob the Builder
Katherine Rich - Blondie; Marilyn
Judith Collins - Joanie
Murray McCully - Conspiracy

Rodney Hide - Rinohide

Winston Peters - Winnie the Pooh

Jeanette Fitzsimons - Too nice to name
Nandor Tanzcos - THC

Peter Dunn P-Dunney

There are no prizes for guessing the sources. Or the rationale behind my choice of knickname.

They may change from time to time. Depends upon what might happen... For example, Benson Pope might be up for revision, given the fact that he is becoming something of a pariah among his own fraternity.

Suicide pilots - Terrorist and kamikaze

I came across this paper through the good folks at ALD.

The author, Yuki Tanaka, begins with an examination of the principle psychological themes found in the records of the Japanese kamikaze pilots of WW2. The headings -

1) Rationalizing one’s own death to defend one’s country and its people

2) The belief that to die for the “country” was show filial piety to one’s own parents, particularly to one’s mother:

3) Strong solidarity with their flight-mates who shared their fate as Kamikaze pilots:

4) A strong sense of responsibility and contempt for cowardice:

5) A lack of an image of the enemy:

Read the whole paper. It is an interesting insight.

His conclusion -

In my view, religious or ideological indoctrination is not the decisive factor in turning a young person into a suicide attacker. Rather religion and ideology are used to justify and formalize their cause of self-sacrifice and to rationalize the killing enemies, whether military or civilians. In so doing, they mirror the strategies of their oppressors who likewise, in practice, make no distinction between military and civilian targets. Ritualising killing makes it psychologically easier not only to annihilate enemies but also to terminate one’s own life.

Ritualized violence and brutality as exemplified by suicide attack may constitute the most negative manifestations of a human being’s desire to let one’s own people live by sacrificing one’s own life. However, war and violent conflict inevitably brutalize not only suicide attackers, but all human beings. Undoubtedly war is an act of madness, its absurdity clearly shown in the paired (but imbalanced) actions and reactions of World War II: as Japan adopted kamikaze-style suicide attacks, the US used “strategic bombing” to indiscriminately kill hundreds of thousands of civilians, and finally engaged in atomic bombing attacks. Yet, to a great extent, it is the former acts that have borne the opprobrium of history while the latter would come to shape the strategic horizons of subsequent wars. Thus terrorist suicide bombing, which is occurring more and more frequently throughout the world, bears the opprobrium of “lunatic actions by fanatics,” while the bombing of civilians, such as those executed by the U.S. and British forces in Afghanistan and Iraq, are widely regarded as “legitimate military operations.” It is crucial that we find effective ways to break the vicious cycle of these two types of terrorism.

OK, to be very clear, his statement "... in practice, make no distinction between military and civilian targets..." carries an emotional charge that is not going to lead to reasoned debate.

I think I would have said, in order to be more accurate, " effect, make no distinction between military and civilian targets...".

That would be closer to the truth, in any and all of the possible examples that might be raised. It has to be said that the US euphemism "colateral damage" applicable in these military operations is a blunt acceptance that civilian casualties are inevitable if unintended. Why else would you drop an HE / incendiary mix if it were not to spread the fire as far and as wide as possible?

It also takes nothing away from Tanaka's conclusions.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

'Net trails...

Sometimes, moving from one thing to another on the ‘Net can result in some almost astounding things.

This little trail of thought starts with my old friends at ALD. I dropped in there in search of something to read over my lunch, and right at the top of the list was this article making a comparison between Japan’s kamikaze pilots of WW2 and the modern day suicide bombers. I want to return to that as it deserves a sleep or two to digest.

But in the side bar to that article was this
- a fascinating discussion on the “last words” of General Yamashita Tomoyuki including a translation of the document he left.

If we leave out the history that must go with his execution, his “four things” are in retrospect equally applicable today as then (with the possible exhortations in favour of what is now the international La Leche League). So I shall leave out the last of the four…

Facing death, I have four things to say to you, the people of the nation of Japan as it resurrects.

First, is about carrying out one's duty. From ancient times, this topic has repeatedly been discussed by scholars, yet it remains most difficult to achieve. Without a sense of duty, a democratic and cooperative society cannot exist. Duty has to be fulfilled as a result of self-regulating and naturally motivated action. I feel some misgivings in thinking about this, considering that you are suddenly to be liberated from the social restraints under which you have long lived.

I often discussed this with my junior officers. The moral decay of our military was so grave that the Imperial Code of Military Conduct as well as the Field Service Code were simply dead letters. Therefore, we had to remind people of this all the time, even in the military where obedience was strongly demanded and defying orders was not allowed at all. In this war, it was far from true that officers under my command carried out their duties satisfactorily.

They were unable to fulfill even the duties that were imposed upon them. Therefore I have some concern over your ability to fulfill your duty voluntarily and independently, after being released from long-standing social restraints. I wonder if you'll be dazzled by suddenly bestowed freedom, and whether some may fail to carry out your duty as required in relations with others, as you've received basically the same education as military men. In a free society, you should nurture your own ability to make moral judgments in order to carry out your duties. Duties can only be carried out correctly by a socially mature person with an independent mind and with culture and dignity.

The fundamental reason why the world has lost confidence in our nation, and why we have so many war-crime suspects who left ugly scars on our history, was this lack of morals. I would like you to cultivate and accept the common moral judgment of the world, and become a people who fulfill duties on your own responsibility. You are expected to be independent and carve out your own future. No one can avoid this responsibility and choose an easy way. Only through that path can eternal peace be attained in the world.

Second, I would like you to promote education in science. No one can deny that the level of Japan's modern science, apart from certain minor areas, is well below world standards. If you travel outside Japan, the first thing you notice is the unscientific way of life of the Japanese. To search for truth with Japan's irrational and cliquish mentality is like searching for fish among the trees.

We soldiers had great difficulties in securing the necessary materials to fight and to make up for the lack of scientific knowledge. We tried to fight against the superior forces of the United States and to win the war by throwing away the priceless lives of our nation as substitutes for bullets and bombs. Various methods of horrendous suicide attack were invented. We exposed our pilots to danger by stripping vital equipment from the planes in order to just slightly improve their mobility. This shows how little knowledge we had for conducting war. We made the greatest mistake -- unprecedented in world history -- by trying to make up for the lack of materials and scientific knowledge with human bodies.

My present state of mind is quite different from that at the time of surrender. In the car on the way to Baguio from Kiangan, Mr. Robert MacMillan, a journalist of the magazine Youth asked, what I thought was the fundamental reason for Japan's defeat. Something suppressed for a long time in my sub-consciousness suddenly burst out and I instantly responded "science," before referring to other important issues. This was because my long-lasting frustration and intense anger were loosened all at once when the war was over.

I am not saying that this is the only reason, but it was clearly one important reason for Japan's defeat. If there will be another war somewhere in the world (although I hope there won't be), it is expected end in a short time through the use of horrific scientific weapons. The foolish methods of war that Japan adopted will be regarded as the illusions of an idiot. Human beings throughout the world, I presume, will make efforts to prevent such a terrible war -- not just the Japanese who thoroughly endured the horror of this war. This is the task that is given to humanity.

The atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki were horrendous weapons. Never before have so many people been killed instantly in the long history of slaughtering human beings. As I have been in prison, I have not had enough time to study the A-bomb, but I think that no weapon will be invented to defend against atomic weapons. It used to be said that it would always be possible to fight against a new method of attack. This is still true. If there is any method to defend against atomic bombs -- the weapon that has made obsolete all past warfare -- it would simply be to create nations all over the world that would never contemplate the use of such weapons.

A defeated officer like me reflects sadly that if we had had superior scientific knowledge and sufficient scientific weapons, we would not have killed so many of our own men. Instead we could have sent them back home to use the knowledge as the foundation to rebuild a glorious and peaceful country. However, the science that I mean is not science that leads mankind to destruction. It is science that will develop natural resources still to be tapped, that will make human life rich, and will be used for peaceful purposes to free human beings from misery and poverty.

Third, I want to mention the education of women.
I have heard that Japanese women have been liberated from the feudal state authorities and been given the privilege of suffrage. From my experience of living in foreign countries for a long time, I can say that the position of modern Japanese women is inferior to that of women in the west.

I am slightly apprehensive about the fact that freedom for Japanese women is a generous gift from the Occupation Forces, not one that they struggled to acquire themselves. A gift is often enjoyed as an object of appreciation and not actually put to direct use. The highest virtues for Japanese women used to be "obedience" and "fidelity." That was no different from "obedient allegiance" in the military. A person who respects such castrated and slave-like virtues has been called a "chaste woman" or praised as a "loyal and brave soldier." In such values, there is no freedom of action or freedom of thought, and they are not the virtues by which one can self-examine autonomously. My hope is that you will break out of your old shell, enrich your education, and become new active Japanese women, while maintaining only the good elements of existing values. The driving force for peace is the heart of women. Please utilize your newly gained freedom effectively and appropriately. Your freedom should not be violated or taken away by anyone. As free women, you should be united with women throughout the world and give full play to your unique abilities as women. If not, you will be squandering all the privileges that you have been given.

I am not going to do any kind of analysis. I admire (leaving aside all of the history) his foresight. The parts of his memo that I have highlighted should stand today, as a clear commentary to all of us on our part in this world and its history.

Just(us) for Dave - Just war...

Dave, it took about 15 seconds to get this.

Just War theory is the attempt to distinguish between justifiable and unjustifiable uses of organized armed forces. Just War theories attempt to conceive of how the use of arms might be restrained, made more humane, and ultimately directed towards the aim of establishing lasting peace and justice. (Source:

Just War tradition addresses the morality of the use of force in two parts: when it is right to resort to armed force (the concern of jus ad bellum) and what it is right to do in using such force (the concern of jus in bello). (Source: [1] Just Cause Revisited])

In more recent years, a third category - Jus post bellum - has been added, which governs the justice of war termination and peace agreements, as well as the trying of war criminals.

Just War theory has ancient roots. The so-called Song of Deborah in the 5th chapter of the Hebrew Bible's Book of Judges discusses late Bronze Age conceptions of what distinguishes a "just" holy war. Cicero discussed this idea and its applications. Augustine of Hippo, Thomas Aquinas and Hugo Grotius later codified a set of rules for a just war, which today still encompass the points commonly debated, with some modifications.

So, there is the answer to the first bit - the principle of "Just War" does go back a long way. Korea was not the first by a long shot.

WW2 - Definitely.

WW1 - Hmm, probable though not certain.

Boer - No

Crimea - Probable no.

Maori Wars - Definite no.

That is as far back as I go...

There ain't nothin' sacred...

... and there ain't nothin' like bullying the small guy.

If you are looking for a good NZ wine, especially in Europe, then be very careful in your choice and reject ANYTHING with the name "kiwi" on it.


For the simple reason that it is probably French.

Huh? Run that past me again? French?

OK so cast your mind back a few years. Remember the French making the name "champagne" a registered brand, and limiting its use to wines only from the Champagne region?

Read this -
A French winemaker's threat of legal action against a Nelson vineyard for using the word kiwi in its branding has sparked a warning to other exporters not to take the rights to their national symbol for granted.

Kahurangi Estate owner Greg Day said he would no longer be able to sell his "Kiwi White" label in Sweden or anywhere else in Europe for fear of being sued.

"We can't use something that is an icon and only associated with a New Zealand bird in Europe because some French company has registered the name," he said.

LaCheteau has registered the brand name, Kiwi Cuvee, in Europe, effectively prohibiting its use elsewhere..

Now that, in all honesty, is exactly the situation that the French prevented with their champagne ban.

So, buyer beware. If you buy a French "Kiwi Cuvee", I hope it burns your throat. And while you are recovering just remember where it came from - NOT New Zealand.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Courage and judgement

It is under this heading that the reknowned Reverend Donald Sensing has "critiqued" the kidnapping of four people, members of a CPT team.

Samples of his commentary...
“Christian Peacemakers” abducted in Iraq have the former, lack the latter.
The organization was founded by joint efforts of Mennonites, Brethren and Quakers. Unsurprisingly, it has a clear Leftward tilt:

[He quotes from the CPT website]-
Iraq – a Baghdad-based presence since October 2002. Team members accompanied the Iraqi people through the U.S.-led 2003 war and continue during the post-war occupation to expose abusive acts by U.S. Armed Forces and support Iraqis committed to nonviolent resistance.

Note well that the “resistance” CPT endorses in Iraq is not resistance against al Qaeda or Baathist terrorists, but exclusively against Coalition forces and the democratic Iraqi government. According to The Independent, CPT “cites the removal of coalition forces from Iraq as one of its aims…” CPT’s home page says of the abductions,

"We are angry because what has happened to our teammates is the result of the actions of the U.S. and U.K. governments due to the illegal attack on Iraq and the continuing occupation and oppression of its people."

The Portsmouth Herald reported after the abductions,

[DS quotes -]
"A group spokeswoman said Christian Peacemaker Teams strongly opposed the U.S. invasion of Iraq and does not consider itself a fundamentalist organization.

“We are very strict about this: We do not do any evangelism, we are not missionaries,” said Jessica Phillips. “Our interest is to bring an end to the violence and destruction of civilian life in Iraq.”

Its first activists went to Iraq in 2002, six months before the U.S.-led invasion, Phillips said, adding that a main mission since the invasion has been documenting alleged human rights abuses by U.S. forces. "

“We do not do any evangelism, we are not missionaries.” Pray, then: in what way are you Christian peacemakers? Do the people in Iraq, on whose behalf you claim to be working, know that your are driven by specifically Christian conviction, a faith that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is alone the redeemer of humankind? Or are they actually more aware of your actions to protect the mass murdering Saddam Hussein from removal?

Its presence there [Iraq] dates to November, 2002, during the tense run-up to the overthrow of Mr. Hussein’s government. CPT was part of an influx of foreign peace-group volunteers who were welcomed by the Baathist regime. Many were deployed around the country as “human shields,” protecting strategic buildings and military installations likely to be targeted by U.S. bombs. CPT took the role of protecting electrical plants, Ms. Buyers said.

Prof. Bender, I hope you are rescued or released alive and well, but you need to confront just what and whom CPT allied itself with:

[DS has this as a quote - unsourced]
The killers of Saddam Hussein’s Baath Party showed up at the barley field at 9 AM, with backhoes and three buses filled with blindfolded men, women and children as young as one year old. The backhoes dug a trench. Fifty people were led to the edge of the hole and shot, one by one, in the head. The backhoes covered them with dirt, then dug another hole for the next group. At 5 PM, the killers went home. This went on without a break for 35 days in March and April of 1991, during the crackdown on the Shiite Muslim uprising that followed the first Gulf War.

This was the regime you tried to protect, and incredibly, you claimed to do so in the name of our Lord. Is Christian Peacemaker Teams really a Christian organization? It does not evangelize or do missionary work. It befriends and supports mass murders and tyrants for no apparent reason other than the United States opposes them. Perhaps you will call that “Christian” works, but I do not. Are they peacemakers? It seems the only peace they work to preserve is the peace of the grave.

The opening statement sets the tone. He is criticising their judgement, not their courage. Bravo Reverend.

The first obvious "mis-judgement" in the good Reverend's view is their politics. So, apparently are the politics of all Mennonites, Brethren and Quakers because they have "a clear Leftward tilt".

That obviously is the first death-knell to any semblance of credibility that CPT has in the good Reverend's opinion - having any relationship with the "left". Mind you, how this should affect the judgement of this group in their visit to Iraq, their direct contact with Iraqis, and their attempts to distill some truth from the morass of information and misinformation defies logic.

The good Reverend then quotes from the CPT website, including -
to expose abusive acts by U.S. Armed Forces and support Iraqis committed to nonviolent resistance.

which he "rephrases" as -
the “resistance” CPT endorses in Iraq is not resistance against al Qaeda or Baathist terrorists, but exclusively against Coalition forces and the democratic Iraqi government

Note the subtlety of the phrasing; "...expose abusive acts..." becomes "“resistance” ... exclusively against Coalition forces", and; "support Iraqis committed to nonviolent resistance" somehow translates in the good Reverend's mind as "against Coalition forces and the democratic Iraqi government".

Yes, one could say that is an honest analysis, but I am not.

The report from the Portsmouth Herald I accept as factual, so too I imagine does the Reverend. The Reverend's rationale behind the quotation is fascinating - like watching a hungry snake.

How else can one describe the blatant equate of “We do not do any evangelism, we are not missionaries.” with "...Or are they actually more aware of your actions to protect the mass murdering Saddam Hussein from removal?"

Now I know that removing Saddam was [probably] the most reasonable of all of the various justifications for Iraq2 that the US trotted out to the rest of the world. That is not in debate, and to forestall any accusation from the good Reverend any others who follow his line of reasoning I am very much in favour of removing the likes of Saddam, and bin Laden, and Mugabe, and all of the other petty tyrants around the world.

But, good Reverend, a person's opposition to the methods or rationale, or even the lies that were used as partial justification for an action does not mean ipso facto opposition to the objective. The fact that I support the removal of tyrants and war criminals does not imply that I support the subjection of a nation to invasion or the imposition of a system of government that might be inappropriate to its culture. Neither does my support for the objective permit total carte blanche in the methods to be used.

No, there has to be a reason why "Iraq 2 - 100" is so prevalent and hearing the good Reverend use it in this context brings the answer home.

Having made this equate between CPT and support for Saddam, here comes the king hit - there is no way that the CPT can be a Christian organisation. Reverend, that is an astounding leap of logic. It rivals David Irving and his very learned opinions on the Holocaust.

Now, why does the Reverend want this dissociation between the Church he serves (I accept probably with distinction) and the Church represented by CPT and like organisations.

It would be easy to point to his military service and connections. He is a street and a half at least ahead of me there as well. It would be too simplistic by half to make a connect between his religion and the "Crusader" ethic.

No, I have another alternative, another fundamental behind this.

It is fear.

Now what on earth might a good Marine, a good Reverend with the greatest military on earth at his back and the greatest God on earth at his side have to fear.

Simple. Being wrong.

Being wrong about so many of the "justifications" given by his good and great leader for going to war. Being wrong about the consequences of the war (and that might be 20 years off yet - who knows?).

Being wrong through misrepresenting his faith as "the religion of peace" while at the same time using (or abusing?) it in promoting a war. Or have I got it all wrong, and Christianity is in fact the religion of war? What a crisis of conscience that could create!

But most of all Reverend, I think I believe that you might be afraid to admit that you have blindly followed where you should have had your eyes open.

CPT have the courage to judge events and people by the measure of their own beliefs. They have the courage to follow that to the extent of seeing with their own eyes.

You, sir ( with all your military training and the great attributes that brings ) are more prepared to see and follow others before seeing and judging for yourself. No criticism; it is what makes a good military man. It is why I would be nothing more than a poor military man destined to be cannon fodder.

Think of it this way - if you saw someone being tortured, would you stop it as a humanitarian or just report it because that was the order?