Saturday, 5 December 2015

Friday, 4 December 2015

I refuse to hate Muslims and their Islamic faith.

I refuse to hate Muslims and their Islamic faith.


So if you post anything which includes a carte-blanch condemnation of Islam, or of Muslims I will remove you as a Facebook friend, AND  as a personal friend.

My life is too short for me to waste time indulging those intellectually deficient and bigotry proficient folks who hate Muslims and Islam.

If you are in that "camp of hatred" you will no longer be a friend of mine. 

The light of Jesus of Nazareth (whose teachings I try to follow)  simply cannot have fellowship with your darkness,

Thursday, 3 December 2015

Four words which should not be put together

















We must stop saying "Boots on the Ground".

Boots do not get maimed or disfigured.

Boots do not get dis-membered.

Boots do not live with PTSD

Boots do not leave broken hearted lovers, children, parents, spouses, boy-friends, girl-friends, uncles and aunts, grand-parents, neighbours, church friends, sisters and brothers.

Boots do not leave their villages, their neighbourhoods, their towns and cities to fight in wars which politicians have mandated.

Boots do not know all en-compassing fear and amazing courage.

We send men and women to war, not boots.

Men and women who know the tenderness of love, the faithfulness of family, the delight of their children, the strength of their friendships.

Men and woman who are well trained, and loyal to the orders they have been given.

Men and woman who hoped to grow old, sound in limb and mind, to rejoice  in the lives of their children and grand-children; their lovers; their spouses; their dearest parents and their siblings.

Women and men who know all-encompassing fear, but yet  display extra-ordinary courage.

PLEASE STOP SAYING "BOOTS ON THE GROUND".

PLEASE CARE AND PRAY FOR MEN AND WOMEN WHO ARE ENGAGED IN ARMED CONFLICT, AND WHOSE DEAREST ONES WAIT AT HOME IN FEAR AND IN HOPE.

And if you are a Christian, pray also for our enemies and those who wish us harm.


Pray also for those, who in the name of Christ and with tender consciences, refuse to bear arms for any reason, and are willing to serve their clan, tribe, region or nation in non-violent ways.

Wednesday, 2 December 2015

Six words which are always wasted.

Get Out From Under My Feet

As addressed to any cat.

I giggled at this announcement in our Church bulletin

ORGAN MUSIC of JOHANN SEBASTIAN BACH During the season of Advent this year, all of the organ preludes and postludes for the Sunday morning services will feature the music of the great composer, Johann Sebastian Bach. He lived from 1685 to 1750, and during his lifetime composed great music for the church, especially for organ. Bach was a devout Christian, and wrote the phrase Soli Deo Gloria on the last page of every piece of music he composed, which translates to, “Only for the glory of God.”



Emphasis mine (jmp).   How surprising that Bach composed music in his lifetime! (or maybe I have a quirky sense of humour).

Monday, 30 November 2015

At age 71 am I a "snazzy young man'? (NO!)

You look like a "snazzy young man". So said the clerk (shop assistant) at "Total Wine" this morning.

Maybe it was because I was wearing my light blue, long-sleeved, buttoned-down collar "Arrow:" shirt, together with my brand new "Izod"  -  "wearing-for-the-very-first time" golf shorts, and a lovely cap which I bought in Bergen, Norway last year.

Or maybe it was because she wanted to flatter me.  

I did not play into her flattery by revealing my age.

Maybe I looked like a  "snazzy young man".

Indeed I looked smart,


But I wish that this very pleasant  young woman had seen me at 3:30 a.m. this morning (Nov 30th 2015).

At that time I left my bed to "relieve myself"

I walked back to my bed (bum first) to sit down,

I sat down, but I missed the bed.  I fell to the floor.

In this dreadful process I managed to shove aside  a book shelf, and cause a picture to fall from the wall,

I suffered "mild abrasions" to my left arm, and  a bit of pain to my  right wrist,

Despite and  because of  these minor  inconveniences I cannot see myself as a "snazzy  young man".

BUT  IT WAS A "NICE TRY"  on the part of the young woman at TOTAL WINE!!


Sunday, 29 November 2015

The wisdom of President George H.W. Bush (and other musings about "what after?")


In 1943 Winston Churchill, Franklin D Roosevelt, and Joseph Stalin met in Tehran to try to establish an agreed policy in the pursuit of the war against the Axis Powers in Europe.

When victory against Germany (Italy had surrendered) was within sight, the same leaders met again in Yalta (1945).

Roosevelt was exhausted, very ill, and as it happens,  very close to death.  Churchill was marginalized by both Stalin and Roosevelt.

Both Churchill and Roosevelt had more faith in their own wisdoms than in the careful briefing papers their staff had prepared.  The two western leaders either ignored the recommendations in these briefings, or they refused to read them

Roosevelt had no more vision than victory in Europe, and then in the Pacific. He had steadfastly refused to deal with the question "But what will we do after victory?"

Churchill's  vision (arch-imperialist as he was) had to do with the post-war preservation of the British Empire.

Of the three, Stalin was the "man with a plan".  He was a treacherous liar, who bamboozled Churchill and Roosevelt (especially Roosevelt) into believing that he was a man of honour who would keep his word.

(Of course there was no appetite for a continued European conflict, against the Soviets).

Since there was no war time "what after" plan by the allies, Stalin and the Soviets were able to enslave much of eastern Europe, and above all, Poland was betrayed by the west into the Soviet bloc.

(For my sources on what I have written above, please see "Citizens of London: the Americans who stood with Britain in its darkest hour" by Lynne Olson, Random House 2010)

The vital post-war planning for the future of Western Europe had to wait. It came about with the American "Marshall Plan" (1948) (from which the U.K. was excluded!) and the formation of NATO (1949)

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"What after?"  The best military strategists and political policy makers always have a plan for "what after" the conflict ends.

That might not necessarily be a wise plan!  The British and French had a plan for what was then called the Near East and the Gulf following World War I.

Having made solemn promises to Arab leaders that if they joined in the fight against the Ottoman Empire they would be rewarded with self-determination, they were betrayed by a secret policy know as the Sykes/Picot agreement.

See http://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/sykes-picot-agreement-180957217/

If we are to understand the roots of conflict in what we now call the Middle East, the Sykes-Picot plan would be a good start.

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"What after?"

 That Axis of Hubris  Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld did not have a coherent plan for the "what after" of the invasion of Iraq, and the fall of Saddam Hussein.

 (To be fair, they imagined the Iraqis would welcome the invasion with Iraqi brass bands playing "God Bless America", and with street parties in every town and village on the Fourth of July each year).

Either they had no understanding of the sectarian/tribal/ethnic, hatreds, fears, historic feuds and mistrusts within the various factions, or, if they knew about those tensions, they believed that we could resolve them.

They sent our military forces to engage in an impossible mission - impossible because the politicians had no plan for "what after".

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"
What after?"  

 In a hawkish moment President Obama joined in the air war on the side of rebels who were seeking the downfall of Muammar Gaddafi in Libya.   But Obama knew next to nothing about these rebels, and he had no strategic plan for "after Gaddafi"

Libya is now a failed State in a seemingly endless Civil War.

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"What after?"  What after the ghastly, cruel and deadly attacks in Paris?

The response of the permanent members of the U.N. Security Council is to bomb the hell out of IS-S,

So, Francois Hollande is strutting across the world stage as if he were Charles de Gaulle revividus. David Cameron imagines himself to be Winston Churchill revividus. Barack Obama talks tough (but sounds like Mr. Rogers), and Vladimir Putin  -  well Vladimir Putin is being Vladimir Putin.

The plan is to defeat Da-sh militarily. (As would be Presidential nominee Marco Rubio said "it will have them on their knees weeping" – fat chance!)

Neither Obama, Cameron, nor Hollande has a plan or a word to say about "What after?"  

(I suspect that Putin has his plans).

"What after?"

Let's suppose that we will defeat the military wing of IS-L in Iraq and Syria from the air, (after which its members will doubtless return to their homes to take up needle-point).

Would we have "solved the problem"?

Here are some questions.

What leads us to believe that "precision bombing" is all that precise?
   Do remember that American Forces "precision bombed"  the Doctors without Borders Hospital in Afghanistan just last month.  Do remember that even precision bombing creates what is euphemistically known as "collateral damage", i,e.  the slaughter of innocent women and children. Do remember that all manner of things can go wrong (e.g. the Turkish downing of a Russian Jet).

Do we have a plan to defeat Al N-uri (an Al Qua-da affiliate) which also controls territory in Syria?

What will we do about the estimated 1,000 militia groups in Syria? (Some of them are small local militia who guard their villages or neighbourhoods).

Do we have a plan to help Syria return to a semblance of civil society (with or without Assad)?

Do we have any clue as to how some four million Syrian refugees might return in safety to their homeland?

If IS-L in Iraq is also militarily defeated, do we have any ideas as to how Iraq might be re-constituted in the face of its current de-facto Kurdish, Sunni and Shia cantons?

If IS-L is destroyed in Syria and Iraq, will that mean the end of IS-L cells in Belgium, France and other European Countries, or will they multiply?

What are the plans to monitor potential terrorist cells in Western Europe and North America without the surrender of our essential civil liberties?

Are our intelligence agencies infallible?

Do we not understand that terrorist cells bear a strong resemblance to Medusa’s head?

The list could go on and on. My chief point is that military action in and of itself, without parallel "what after" political and social planning is a dead end on a deadly street.

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THIS BRINGS ME TO THE WISDOM OF PRESIDENT GEORGE H.W. BUSH

His response to the invasion of Kuwait by Iraq was masterful.

He assembled a true and willing international coalition.

He had a single and clear military strategy -(1)  to drive the Iraqi Army out of Kuwait, and (2) to restore the government of the Emir.  It was a plain and uncomplicated plan, utterly lacking in grandiosity, with an unambiguous what after.

Following the rout of the Iraqi Army and Revolutionary Guard many will remember that hawkish politicians urged that the military coalition should have pursued them all the way to Baghdad. Others accused General Colin Powell of lack of cojones.

President Bush was firm and clear.  His “what after” was neither more nor less than the restoration of the legitimate government in Kuwait.    A fight to Baghdad without “what-after” planning would have been a recipe for disaster.

President George H.W. Bush had served with distinction in World War II as a Naval Aviator.

He had been the head of the CIA

He had been the American Ambassador to the United Nations

He had been the Chief of the American Liaison Office in the Peoples Republic of China

He had been a a loyal vice-President under President Reagan for eight years,

In other words, he had the experience (and temperament) which enabled him to make sound decisions in the conflict called "Desert Storm". He was savvy enough to have factored in the “what after” question.

For further reading:

Please try to download the July 31st Wall Street Journal article titled “Desert Storm – the Last Classic War” by Richard Hass.  I read it yesterday but I have used up my “free” WSJ access, so I cannot read it again.  Your “Google search will most likely enable you go (as a first time reader) download and read the article.



ONE LAST WORD

Your reasoned comments are very welcome.  I will publish them unaltered (but I will not respond to them) so that we can have a free and gracious exchange of viewpoints,  but  no one-line zingers please. They are not helpful to civil debate.