Tag Archive for democracy

Iraq in flames again

 

consequences

Iraq in flames – again

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This week, Mosul, the second largest city in Iraq was quickly overrun by Islamist rebels. A few weeks before, Falujah was captured and is still in rebel hands.

Today it is reported that the same rebels have captured the town of Tikrit and a major oil installation and that up to 500 000 people are fleeing the captured areas.

The Iraqi army has proved totally ineffective, abandoning their posts after only putting up a token resistance to their attackers. Reports of officers being the first to run, leaving their men to their own devices.

This is one part of a larger movement to establish a separate state across the North of Iraq and Syria. A state controlled by brutal Sunni Islamists aligned with Al-Qaeda.

A former US ambassador to Iraq today suggested that now is the time to support “moderate” Syrian opposition with weapons so that they can defeat both President Assad and the Al-Qaeda linked Islamic State of Iraq and The Levant.

This could be a huge mistake for two reasons.

The Syrian opposition is in disarray, it has lost ground to government forces and is split into various factions ranging from pro West to those linked to Al-Qaeda.

There is more than a fair chance that any weapons supplied to “moderate” forces would soon find their way into Islamic militant’s hands.

Secondly and perhaps more importantly, there is no single strongman in the opposition camp to hold the ravaged country together should the campaign to oust Assad be successful.

Notwithstanding relative stability in Morocco and Tunisia, the failure of democracy to flourish in the countries affected by the turmoil of the “Arab Spring” indicates yet again that Western style democracy is not the best form of government for the countries in the region.

Under Mubarak, Egypt was more stable than it has been since he was overthrown. He was imprisoned because under his command some protesters were shot, but the new president is celebrated for squashing all opposition, while responsible for the deaths of greater numbers of protesters. Hundreds more have been sentenced to death.

Since the end of Gaddafi’s rule, Libya is fast becoming a failed state controlled by various militia. A threat to Europe because its lawlessness is providing a conduit for illegal migrants from across North Africa and beyond.

Before the civil war in Syria, there was relative peace and stability. Now there is chaos with millions of refugees creating huge problems for neighbouring states and hundreds of thousands of casualties.

If we turn a blind eye to the mass gassing of Kurds and a protracted war with Iran, Iraq under Saddam Hussein was fairly stable.

All those dictators were, by our standards, awful dictators, nasty and ruthless. But they kept control. What we consider “human rights” were denied to most citizens, but most of them stayed alive, had a roof over their heads and food to eat.

Thousands of American, British and other nations’ lives and billions of taxpayers dollars, pounds and euros have been lost in Iraq and Afghanistan trying to prop up systems that were doomed to fail.

It is becoming increasingly apparent that most of the countries now in turmoil need strong dictators, not ineffectual and unenforceable democracy, as unpalatable as that may be to sensitive liberals in the West.

Many of the borders in the region were lines on a map drawn by the colonial powers early in the last century. It seems that Al Qaeda determined to replace them with the originals.

The West does not need an unholy alliance between a strong Syria under Assad and a radical Iran with nuclear capability. It needs that and a new state controlled by Al Qaeda even less.

It’s time to put our Western arrogance aside and accept that peace and stability in the region will only come when strong, effective and probably ruthless, leaders fight their way to the top.

With hindsight, the West should certainly have propped up Mubarak and there is now a case for suggesting many lives would have been saved in Libya, Iraq and Syria if we had left the despots in place and not weakened by sanctions.

peter-wright

 

 

graphic courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net

The Ukrainian Government’s Dilemma

Brian via Compfight

elexorien sword of vaelen

Those who live by the sword die by the sword

The interim government in Ukraine is becoming acutely aware of the saying derived from the biblical parable in The Gospel of Mathew, verse 26:52.

“Those who live by the sword, die by the sword”.

It’s ironic that the new government’s successful installation in Kiev, has encouraged the pro Russian activists in cities in the East of the country to use the same strategy.

A strategy of widespread resistance using tactics of roadblocks in the streets and illegal occupation of government buildings.

In a post on 25 February Ukraine, Peaceful Protest or Mob Rule, I pointed out the dangers of mob rule.

It appears that those dangers are now coming back to haunt the new government.

The same factors are now almost certainly hindering the West’s ability to effectively respond to the Russian annexation of Crimea and fomenting of demands for autonomy in Eastern Ukraine.

While most reasonable supporters of democracy will approve of the ousting of former President Yanukovich, the means by which it was achieved were anything but democratic.

It’s somewhat illogical to celebrate mob rule in one part of the country and then condemn the same actions in another.

The new government is now becoming painfully aware of the consequences of its takeover as it contemplates its options in the East.

There were calls for the former president and some of his officials to be tried for war crimes because some protesters were shot.

Is that why the new government is so scared of using force to evict the illegal occupiers of government buildings in Eastern towns?

It is a real predicament, use too much force resulting in casualties, alienate the pro-Russian population, risk accusations of war crimes, invite an invasion by Russian troops.

Don’t use force and see an increasing number of Eastern towns and regions become lawless, controlled by mobs and ripe for annexation by Russia.

Governments have to govern, as distasteful as it may be, the government in Ukraine must take resolute action to regain control of the whole country quickly.

The alternative is a partitioned Ukraine and increased risk of Russian sponsored agitation in other countries which were formerly part of the USSR.

The big question is why the new government did not take immediate steps to bolster the security at its buildings and defence of cities in the East as soon as the Russian activities in Crimea commenced.

Was it concern over the loyalty of its troops?  Was it the naivety of a new government? Was it inexperienced leadership?

 

peter-wright

 

 

 

The Tail Wagging the Dog Nightmare gets worse.

it's a firefox cake! Rakka via Compfight

Yesterday Brendan Eich was forced to resign as CEO of Mozilla, and leave the company he co-founded.

Why?

Because in 2008 he donated $1000 to an anti same-sex marriage campaign.

It is ludicrous that in a supposed democracy which trumpets the virtue and right of free speech, a man can be forced to resign for expressing an opinion.

An opinion that is shared by a significant percentage, in some areas, a clear majority, of the population.

An opinion that has been the dominant opinion on which the legal, philosophical and natural laws of marriage have been based for thousands of years.

An opinion that has nothing to do with his ability to perform his role as CEO. It could be argued that as a man with the courage of his convictions, it enhances his role.

Another example of political correctness gone berserk, the dark side of social media exposed.

Why is it that a serving US President did not have to resign after the sordid details of an affair with a junior employee made him the subject of international ridicule. Nor after his earlier denials of the affair brought his integrity into question.

I am not suggesting he should have been forced to resign over the affair itself, that might have established a precedent that could have decimated the ranks of politicians and corporate executives.

Denying it is another matter. Both errors of judgement infinitely more serious than Mr. Eich making a small donation to a legal and popular, cause. A cause that was supported by 7 million Californian voters.

Why can celebrities, fading stars and members of the lunatic fringe be not only forgiven, but in liberal circles, celebrated for unpatriotic comments and actions against companies trying to reduce the cost of energy and reduce America’s dependence on foreign oil.

I don’t recall a single case of a celebrity being asked to resign for making ridiculous allegations against, for example, Canadian Oil, GM crops or gun control.

Some of the attacks on national companies and institutions would have been judged as treason not that long ago.

The answer of course is that the liberal left has hoodwinked the media and many people who should know better with it’s campaign of take from the successful and give to those who want it all without having to exert any effort to produce themselves.

Various estimates put homosexuals at between 11 & 19% of the North American population. Sources Smithsonian.com  and Pacific Standard

Just as some heterosexual couples do not get married, it is logical to assume that a significant number of homosexual relationships would not result in same-sex marriage.

Therefore, whichever estimate of the number of homosexual couples, reduced by any further estimate one chooses to use, of those that would not want to enter into a marriage, results in a very small part of the general population.

Why should such a small minority dictate to the majority? Why can a CEO be hounded out of his job for expressing his opinion on a matter that has no bearing what so ever on the company he runs?

Why have the majority of solid, ordinary citizens been cowed into silence by the radical left who cannot accept that there are other opinions in this world?

Why do corporations and worse, local governments aid and abet these views abandoning any backbone they may have had by, for example flying the “rainbow” flag over town halls during the winter Olympics? A direct insult to the majority of taxpayers.

Why do some corporations take it further and try and capitalise on this trend by organising boycotts? OK Cupid allegedly blocked any users of Mozilla’s browser, Firefox, from using it’s website until Brendan Eich resigned.

Because socialist propaganda has convinced too many good people that the tail can wag the dog.

For a group that whines continuously and vociferously about the unfairness of discrimination, it is bizarre that it should be the weapon of choice to be used against any one with a different opinion.

My personal philosophy is one of live and let live, I have as little interest in any one else’s sexual habits or preferences as I have in publicising my own.

I believe that those involved in same-sex relationships can be protected without a “marriage” of the same status as that for ordinary marriages between a man and a woman.

That’s my opinion and I could assemble pages of facts to support it. Just as proponents of same-sex marriage can raise compelling arguments to support it. It is my right to disagree with that opinion as much as it is theirs to disagree with mine.

Neither of us have the right to destroy the other’s careers, businesses or even lives because of that disagreement.

I have a great interest in fairness and minimal interference in the private lives of others by both government and mobs of social media vigilantes flying a liberal flag.

This mob violence – digital or real – may well come back to bite the hands that feed it. Already there is at least one counter boycott from a Christian group blocking Mozilla users.

What will be the next cause these vigilantes adopt? It might be directed against you or the values you stand for. Will you have the fortitude to resist it?

We had better hope that enough of us do find the courage otherwise we will soon realise that we no longer live in a democracy, mob rule will have triumphed. Anarchy will prevail.

peter-wright

Dangerous moves on the Ukrainian chess board

Killer QueenCreative Commons License aussiegall via Compfight

Back in September 2013, in this post, I suggested that Russia’s President Putin had acted like a Chess Master to out manoeuvre the Western powers in Syria.

Seems he learned from that success and has again played the more decisive opening moves. This time in the Ukraine, a bigger chessboard and a game with much higher stakes.

As offensive as his action in moving thousands of troops into the Crimea overnight is to our Western Democratic sensibilities, he has an element of legality on his side.

The government under President Yanukovich as bad as it appeared, was the elected government. It was overthrown by a violent revolution, police and protesters were killed, property damaged, buildings occupied and public officials prevented from doing their jobs.

Our Western leaders loudly condemn, and sometimes take action against, coup leaders in other countries – when we do not approve of them. It seems we have a selective morality when it comes to approving of, or condemning revolutions.

How then can we complain when Russia chooses to side with what to them is a beleaguered minority, deprived of their elected government by an uprising and fearful for their safety?

Not that I am supporting Russia’s invasion of the Crimea. Far from it, I am just suggesting that the situation is a little more complicated than most people believe.

Will Putin put troops into the rest of the Ukraine? That may well depend on his assessment of the “consequences” that British Foreign Minister William Hague threatens.

While I suspect that Russia will not be aggressive enough to launch a takeover of the whole country, it would not be surprising if they did attempt to annexe those parts of Eastern Ukraine with majority Russian speaking populations.

It looks like the Crimean peninsula is lost, a result that may eventually prevent further problems for the new government in Kiev. A Russian move into Eastern Ukraine would create more serious problems both for the country itself and other countries in Europe.

Depending on their assessment of the West’s likely reaction, Putin could well put troops around the Russian speaking cities in Eastern Ukraine temporarily to extract concessions from both the new Ukrainian government and the West.

Those concessions could include higher prices for Russian natural gas supplied to the Ukraine and beyond, removal of the threat of sanctions proposed by the USA and even more favourable consideration of Russian interests in unrelated sources of disagreement like Syria.

For now the Russian Chess Master has the West in check, will it be checkmate when more Ukrainian cities have been lost like pawns? Or will the West be bold enough to protect the Queen of Kiev and the rest of the pieces not yet lost?

My bet is that right now it’s too close to call. My gut instinct tells me that this game would have played out differently if Presidents John Kennedy or Ronald Reagan and Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher had still been leaders of their countries.

More recently, if either President Bush had been in power, Russia’s opening moves may have been less provocative.

I do not believe that the West will, or should, get into a war with Russia, the potential cost is too high, the outcome unlikely to improve the situation for the people of Ukraine.

However the Russian action is a clear indication that the USA is no longer seen as the only world superpower, the balance of power is steadily shifting Eastwards and Russia desperately wants to improve its standing in the ranks of nations that carry weight.

Interesting times ahead.

 

peter-wright

Ukraine, Peaceful Protest, Revolution or Mob Rule?

 

consequences

Peaceful Protest or Anarchy?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When the protests against the government of the Ukraine became increasingly violent it was not surprising that they invited an equally violent response from the forces of law and order.

The overwhelming reaction from commentators and political leaders in the West was support for the protesters and condemnation of the government for stopping “peaceful” protests with violent confrontation.

Can protests be considered “peaceful” when barricades are set up in streets to stop the police doing their job as well as preventing free access to other law-abiding citizens? When police are shot at, stoned, petrol bombed with many injured and some killed.

When government buildings, vehicles and other public assets are invaded, burned and the occupants prevented from doing their jobs.

I have always been wary of the right to peaceful protest. The moment the number of protesters becomes high enough, or their actions violent enough, to interfere with the ability of others to enjoy freedom of movement, ability to work or use their property, a line has been crossed.

That line should not be crossed in a democratic system.

The first time a brick or more dangerous missile, is hurled at a policeman, public or private property damaged, the protesters must accept the risk of being seriously injured or killed.

I have no sympathy for recently deposed President Yanukovych or his government, however I have little enthusiasm for mob rule.

Why do we in the West automatically side with the protesters? Even when the government that is the target of the protesters was freely elected and by some standards no worse than others? – That was not necessarily so in the case of the Ukraine.

The Western leaders and media fell over themselves to praise the protesters in the “Arab Spring”. The result, certainly in Libya, Egypt and Syria, less stable countries with more casualties than before under the old autocratic regimes.

What would happen in North America or Western Europe if freely elected governments were faced with massive and violent revolution? We saw how Greece experienced a taste of it at the start of the austerity measures.

It was ugly, but the government had no alternative to using force to contain the situation, protect lives and property, prevent a revolution.

We saw a much more wishy-washy response to protesters during the “Occupy” movement when crowds illegally invaded private and public property, used private gardens as camp sites and toilets and prevented thousands of people going about their legitimate business.

That is not democracy at work, that is the action of a selfish minority attempting to replace a government it does not like by revolution instead of the ballot box.

Why should your and my tax dollars be wasted on replacing burned police cars and paying for thousands of hours of police overtime because the authorities are too timid to use force to maintain law and order?

The new interim government in the Ukraine is now calling for the arrest and trial of President Yanukovych. That may well be justified and he certainly invited retribution by is actions and by the recently revealed opulence of his residence.

That creates the concern that other presidents and prime ministers will be too nervous about their own futures to use force to stop revolutions. The job of being the leader of a country will become more dangerous, less attractive. Weak governments will result, anarchy will prevail.

There is a great danger in glorifying revolution. Yes some revolutions are just and eventually result in better governed countries with better conditions for most citizens. The French Revolution of 1789 – 1799 is probably the best example.

Other revolutions have had more sinister outcomes.The Russian revolution in 1905, being a prime example. One oppressive regime being replaced by a worse and more deadly one that affected the lives of millions of people inside and beyond the borders of the country itself.

The danger is that accepting increasing levels of violence and destruction as the “right of peaceful protest” opens the door to insurrection and chaos every time a segment of the population becomes dissatisfied with the government of the day. Irrespective of whether that government was democratically elected or not, good or bad, effective or not.

In Canada, Australia and most of Europe, the population has largely been disarmed, ordinary citizens will be unable to defend themselves, their families or their properties when weak leaders fear the consequences of firm action and mob rule is allowed to become the norm.

A sad state of affairs and one deliberately engineered by successive levels of increasing “big government”.

The USA, Israel and Switzerland alone in the West have allowed their citizens the security of legal possession of fire arms to defend themselves against the results of mob rule.

peter-wright

 

 

 

Graphic by Artvex.com

Cruising the road to Damascus – at any cost.

Royal  Navy Submarine HMS Astute Fires a Tomahawk Cruise Missile (TLAM) During Testing Near the USA UK Ministry of Defence via Compfight

The leaders of the USA, UK and France seem determined to take “surgical” action in Syria, probably by using precisely targeted cruise missiles.

Why?

In the almost 3 years of the Syrian civil war, over 100 000 people have been killed, large areas of the country reduced to rubble, neighbouring countries burdened with huge waves of refugees. Bombings in Lebanon and Iraq may be a direct result of the conflict. The involvement of Hezbollah and Iran in support of the Syrian government is both worrying and a further complication.

But with all that, the Western powers have been reluctant to get involved in what is still a civil war, an internal problem.

Until this week when 350 people were killed in a chemical warfare bombardment blamed on the Syrian government.

As yet, no convincing evidence that government forces were responsible or conclusions on the exact chemical used have been produced.

Russia and China are predictably vetoing any UN resolutions to use force against the Syrian Government, supporting their argument by allegations that it may have been the Syrian opposition attempting to force an “own goal” on the government.

Any escalation in the conflict increases the threat to our two most important allies in the region, Israel and Turkey,  but a chemical attack in Damascus in itself, does not dramatically increase that threat.

As awful and inexcusable the use of chemical weapons may be, and as much as we might regret the loss of hundreds more lives last week, the threat to the West or world peace has not been increased by these events.

Why then do we want to get involved? Have we not learned the lessons from Iraq? When the justification for the invasion was later found to be false. Or Afghanistan, when having quickly defeated the enemy, we attempted the impossible task of installing democracy in an undemocratic part of the world, lengthened our involvement by years at huge cost. That cost measured in hundreds of our soldier’s lives and billions of dollars and pounds of taxpayers hard-earned cash.

Have we forgotten Egypt where by abandoning an ally, and tacitly supporting a revolution, we ended up with a ruler far more dangerous, another coup and now a country in turmoil with a wrecked economy.

Why then are our leaders so determined to get involved in Syria after a comparatively small increase in casualties?

Is it really because the use of chemical weapons is unacceptable? Large scale killing of civilians is surely unacceptable with any type of weapons.

Is there a bigger threat to Israel, Turkey and perhaps Jordan that we are not being told about?

Is Iran about to launch a pre-emptive nuclear strike?

Do President Obama and Prime Minister Cameron just want to irritate the Russians and Chinese?

Or is it once again an example of Western arrogance and hypocrisy, trying to impose our standards on people who march to the beat of a very different drummer?

Before this incident, it looked as if the Assad government was gaining control over larger areas of Syria, perhaps turning the tide and winning the war.  It could be argued that the quickest way to reduce the horrendous casualty rate, stop the destruction of infrastructure and reverse the flood of refugees would be to let the government win the war by what ever means it has at its disposal.

After all we justified dropping atomic bombs on Japan as the best way to end WW11 despite the huge loss of life.

I am not an apologist for Assad, I would be happy to see him removed from power and made to pay for his sins, however deciding on who should rule Syria is a matter for the Syrians not us.

We should beware of assisting in his removal and his replacement by a more anti-Western ruler. We don’t need to risk the lives of our troops in another un-winnable war when that war, disastrous as it may be for Syrians, poses little threat to our own security.

What are your thoughts?

 

peter-wright

The wheel turns in Egypt

Crossed Out Dan H via Compfight

Headline yesterday “Mubarak to be released from prison”.

Isn’t that amazing, it’s taken two years for the wheel to come almost full circle. Given Mubarak’s poor health and advanced age, he is unlikely to make any sort of political comeback.

When I wrote about the Egypt and the law of unintended consequences on 10 July, the death toll in the unrest was around 50, now 6 weeks later it is over 1000.

My comment that the country would be better off and far fewer Egyptians dead if we had supported Mubarak instead of abandoning him is more relevant than ever.

There was a reason why Mubarak tried to prevent the Muslim Brotherhood taking power. The consequences of his overthrow are being measured by the body counts in the streets of Cairo and Alexandria.

Other commentators estimate that only around 10% of the world’s population live under true democratic governments. I cannot confirm or dispute that estimate, but I am convinced that it is a minority, with the vast majority living under autocratic systems of varying degrees of oppression.

When the Arab spring has finally withered in the summer heat, we may well find that a long winter of discontent is the prelude to a return to the traditional systems of military or civilian dictatorships, monarchies or new variations of old regimes.

Also yesterday, large numbers of casualties in Damascus, Syria. Symptoms indicate poisoning, probably by some form of chemical warfare. Accusations of responsibility by both sides in the conflict.

Is this the Obama administration’s red-line? I somehow doubt it, I cannot believe the American people want to get dragged into another unwinnable Middle Eastern conflict.

If it escalates to pose a direct threat to Israel or Turkey, there might be some justification for action. While it remains a civil war, any Western involvement increases the danger of installing a more dangerous ruling party than the current one.

As sad as it is to see the death toll climbing in both conflicts, perhaps the West needs to curb its temptation to interfere and let the dramas play out as they have done for thousands of years.

It’s an interesting world.

 

peter-wright