Thursday, August 31, 2006

It doesn't say what it says; it says what we want it to say.

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert says that the blockade against Lebanon will only be lifted when the terms of the ceasefire resolution (UNSCR 1701) are fully implemented.

Say what?

Paragraph 6 calls for the reopening of Lebanese airports and harbours, so removal of the blockade is part of the resolution. Therefore Olmert is implying (inadvertently, I’m sure) that the blockade must be lifted before the blockade can be lifted.

Similarly, Olmert says that Israeli troops will pull out only after the resolution is fully implemented. Same problem: Israeli withdrawal is part of the resolution (paragraph 2), so he is saying they can’t leave until after they have left.

Perhaps he means to say that all the other parts of the resolution must be in place to his satisfaction before he will give the order to comply with paragraphs 2 or 6. So Israel must be satisfied first that there has been a full implementation of all the bits of the resolution that it likes, and only then will Israel consider itself obliged to fulfill its part of the resolution. Is that the idea?

That isn’t what UNSCR 1701 says. And for good reason: If everyone used that kind of logic, no stable ceasefire resolution would ever take hold, anywhere. In a realistic ceasefire agreement, both sides need to take some risks.

Olmert’s justification for maintaining the blockade against Lebanon is that the resolution is a package deal (a “fixed buffet” in his words); you can’t just pick one item and leave the rest. Okay … but where is the rest of the argument? How does it follow that Israeli compliance must be the dessert of this buffet?

The resolution, as worded, tries to be balanced with respect to timing. For example, paragraph 2 calls for the Israeli troops to pull out “in parallel” to the Lebanese and UNIFIL deployment into southern Lebanon. The resolution does not allow Israel to wait until an unspecified “reasonable number” of troops (in the words of Israeli Defence Minister Amir Peretz) are in place before starting to pull out. Olmert and Peretz seem to have missed the phrase “in parallel”.

The resolution does not specify a minimum number of troops for UNIFIL. Paragraph 11 says that the Security Council “decides … to authorize an increase in the force strength of UNIFIL to a maximum of 15000 troops”. If UNIFIL is never boosted to a size that Olmert and Peretz would consider “reasonable”, it would not follow that this paragraph has not been obeyed. But in the twisted Israeli reading of the resolution, it appears that Israel is magically given the right to decide unilaterally on a required minimum force level for UNIFIL.

The Israelis have also indicated that they will not lift the blockade until they are satisfied that the troops deployed along the Syrian border are capable of stopping new weapons shipments to Hezbollah. (Source: Associated Press.) Presumably, this Israeli demand is a reference to paragraph 14 of the resolution, which calls upon Lebanon to secure its borders (in order to block arms shipments that do not have the consent of the Lebanese government). This is a welcome retreat from Israel’s earlier position, in which they demanded that the UNIFIL forces must accompany the Lebanese forces along the Syrian border. Indeed, it may be that this Israeli demand is nothing more than a reiteration of the “reasonable number” demand, with a hint of what that number might be.

Then again, maybe not. The key question is: What proof of capability is Israel demanding? For example: Must the Lebanese forces demonstrate, over some unspecified “reasonable” period of time and beyond “reasonable” doubt, some unspecified “reasonable” level of success in the prevention of arms smuggling? If so, we’re going well beyond what the resolution calls for. If that is what they mean, then Israel is essentially declaring that it will not comply with UNSCR 1701 until it gains other concessions.

The twisting continues. Israel is treating the unconditional release of the two soldiers captured in the Hezbollah raid of 12 July as if it were one of the demands of the resolution. (Source: BBC.) If it were so, a reference to those soldiers would appear clearly in one of the numbered paragraphs. But in fact, the reference in question appears in the preamble. It is worth quoting this part in full: “…emphasising the need for an end of violence, but at the same time emphasising the need to address urgently the causes that have given rise to the current crisis, including by the unconditional release of the Israeli soldiers,…”.

Notice the word including (not especially). The context demands an equal emphasis on other “causes that have given rise to this conflict”. So what would happen if we started treating this clause of the preamble as if it were one of the items for which the Security Council officially “calls” in this resolution? What chance would we have of getting any kind of international consensus in even identifying, let alone urgently addressing, those causes? I’m more likely to be struck by lightning.

It’s perfectly clear, to me, that the Palestinian people have a host of legitimate grievances that must be included among the causes of this conflict. Shall we tie these causes together with the present ceasefire resolution? For example, shall we interpret UNSCR 1701 as if it includes an official call for Israel to cease immediately its present campaign of tormenting the people of Gaza? Or for Israel to release the tens of thousands of Palestinian civilians that are presently held indefinitely and without charge? Or for Israel immediately to pull its troops out of the West Bank, and henceforth to allow the Palestinian nation to function as an independent state, with control over its own resources?

On the other side of the coin: Shall we interpret the resolution as if it includes an official call for Cpl Shalit to be released by whoever is holding him? Or for Lebanon and Syria and Hamas and others to recognize Israel? Or for Arab nations, from Morocco to Iraq, to compensate the hundreds of thousands of Jews that they expelled in a perverted retaliation for the Israeli expulsion of Palestinians?

To all these questions, the answer is obviously no. The Security Council would have made Palestinian-Israeli issues explicit if they had intended this resolution to cover them. We cannot consistently consider the preamble-statement about “causes that have given rise to the current crisis” to be one of the terms of the resolution. In particular, we cannot treat the release of the two soldiers held by Hezbollah as one of the terms of the resolution.

Argue, if you wish, that the resolution ought to have been worded differently. That’s another topic, for another time. Here, I argue only that Olmert and company have badly twisted the content of UNSCR 1701, even while pretending to respect it.

They have twisted the resolution by exaggerating the content of the favourable clauses, including by extracting a parenthetical comment from the preamble and treating it as one of the official demands. And they have twisted it by insisting on waiting for those favourable clauses to be fulfilled, to their own satisfaction, before they will comply with their own obligations. Taken together, these tricks appear to add up to a deliberate ploy to make the ceasefire unworkable. I hope I’m wrong.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

I Am Livid With This: Raed in the Middle: back from the mideast

Raed in the Middle: back from the mideast

It is the 21st century. A person with a t-shirt reading in English and Arabic "we will not be silent" is hassled before boarding a plane.

"Then I once again asked the three of them : "How come you are asking me to change my t-shirt? Isn't this my constitutional right to wear it? I am ready to change it if you tell me why I should. Do you have an order against Arabic t-shirts? Is there such a law against Arabic script?" so inspector Harris answered "you can't wear a t-shirt with Arabic script and come to an airport. It is like wearing a t-shirt that reads "I am a robber" and going to a bank".

The fear and paranoia that is eroding the human security of the people in the United States...and unacceptable. UNACCEPTABLE!

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper's email address is

The email address of the person hired to pretend to be President of the United States is

Please read this posting and email them both explaining how you feel about the state of mental and emotional security in North America.


Society as we know it will crumble as the fear-mongers undermine our security.

If we do not stop it, it is our fault because we will let them.


Tuesday, August 22, 2006

More CanWestGlobal Bias Against Social Welfare

CanWestGlobal has issued yet another political statement regarding how their corporate media body sees the future of Canada and our social welfare system. They oppose it and communitarian measures to ensure an egalitarian society where all get equal access to the best health care possible.

Connected to a story about the election of the two-tier-profit-glitter-eyed Dr. Brian Day as the new head of the CMA is a CanWestGlobal poll on whether we think public-private partnerships in health care are acceptable now. PPPs, or P3s, are a cheap rhetorical device for privatization, a word that polls poorly.

The online poll heinously lacks journalistic integrity as it asks if we think health care P3s are fine or need more study. There are merely TWO options in the poll. We are not offered the choice of disagreeing with P3s. Either we are fine with them or we need to study them more. Further to annoy us, is the fact that we can't view the poll results until we vote.

And while the poll is not scientific because participants are self-selecting by people who would bother to visit their galling website in the first place, and because the poll cannot reflect a representative sample of the Canadian population, this poll will provide "legitimate" mileage for the proponents of sucking the communitarian spirit out of Canada.

But the worst part is the lack of a practical spread of options in answers.

The results of the poll as of 5:50pm and 6:50pm Vancouver Time today are below. What is not included is the raw numbers of voters--another insult to the intelligence of the Canadian population.


With the election of a private clinic owner as head of the CMA, the issue of public-private healthcare partnerships is one...

...that needs to be studied more.

33.84 % [5:50pm] then 34.61 % [6:50pm]

...whose time has come.

66.16 % [5:50pm] then 65.39 % [6:50pm]%

The story on Brian Day and good reasons to not trust doctors in this country is below. A disturbingly difficult statement appears at the end of it: "Although Day will be the voice of the CMA when he becomes president, the association’s policies and positions are set by the membership at annual meetings and by the board of directors."

While true, the fact that the CMA membership voted for this guy lets us know that what Tommy Douglas fought in Saskatchewan decades ago--profit-hungry doctors--is a threat to our social fabric still today.

Kevin Newman and his Gemini Award, promoted on the same page as the poll, should be ashamed of themselves.

Tuesday » August 22 » 2006

Private clinic owner elected head of CMA

Canadian Press

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

CHARLOTTETOWN — The choice of a private-care doctor as president-elect of the Canadian Medical Association is at least partly an expression of frustration with the current health-care system, officials with the association said Tuesday.

Dr. Brian Day, the owner of a private surgical clinic in Vancouver, was named president-elect of the medical association following a secret vote by doctors attending the CMA’s annual meeting in Charlottetown.

Day defeated fellow Vancouver physician Dr. Jack Burak, a last-minute challenger nominated from the floor who was put forward as a voice for public health care.

The vote count was not released.

Dr. Ruth Collins-Nakai, the medical association’s past-president, urged people not to read too much into Day’s election.

She said it was not a referendum on the public-versus-private health debate.

“It is not necessarily a shift in ideology,” Collins-Nakai said when asked the meaning of Day’s election.

“I think you are seeing a level of frustration by doctors on behalf of their patients in terms of the lack of access to care. Physicians are frustrated by the fact they cannot provide the care patients need in a timely fashion.”

Day’s election upset CUPE Nova Scotia president Danny Cavanagh, who called the association’s new chief “a privatization pusher.”

Cavanagh called the election “a bad omen for the future of our public health care system.”

The medical association, which represents 62,000 doctors, earlier approved several motions relating to public-private care that will become policy, including a resolution recognizing the strengths of the publicly funded system.

Many of the motions and arguments in favour of public health care came from young doctors.

“We’re appealing to that fire all of you have inside,” Dr. Devesh Varma, an opthamology resident from Saskatoon, said as he asked doctors to support the motion endorsing public health care.

“Somewhere deep down, buried after all those years of frustration, there’s still that fire you started with and we want you to find that and use it to recognize the merits within our publicly funded system.”

Some doctors say the association is sending mixed messages about its position on public-versus-private care.

“As physicians we have to make choices that would improve access to health care for all our patients and not just a few,” said Dr. Danielle Martin of the newly formed group Canadian Doctors for Medicare.

“We all agree that access to health care should be based on need, not ability to pay. But we have to walk the talk and ensure that our decisions are based on our patients’ welfare.”

For his part, Day said his position on expanding the role of private care has been blown out of proportion — mostly by people living east of the Rockies.

Day, who was born in Liverpool, England, where he went to school with future Beatles Paul McCartney and George Harrison, said he believes in universal medical care.

“I have never supported the privatization of health care,” he said.

“Those propagating that myth have deliberately set out to distort my beliefs into an extreme viewpoint I have never supported. I believe there is a place for the private sector and private-public partnerships. Defining that role is a task the CMA is pursuing.”

Day said the competition offered by private care has helped improve efficiency and accounting in public hospitals.

“I will commit to a policy that all Canadians receive timely access to medically necessary services regardless of ability to pay,” Day said following his election.

“But I believe the Canada Health Act must be updated for the 21st century.”

Day will serve as president-elect of the CMA for the next year. He will become the organization’s president in 2007-08.

Although Day will be the voice of the CMA when he becomes president, the association’s policies and positions are set by the membership at annual meetings and by the board of directors.

Monday, August 07, 2006

22 Impolite Questions: a Response to Rhetoric Crimes

22 impolite questions

am i a Canadian, a real Canadian, or a good Canadian?

am i a Canadian first and a human being second, or a human first and a Canadian second, or even lower in relation to me being a husband, father, teacher or poet?

is patriotism the last refuge of a scoundrel?

if i criticize Prime Sinister Harper, am i anti-Canada, anti-Canadian or against all ethnic groups that comprise Canada, thereby wishing upon us all a terrorist attack?

do i support Canadian troops if i call for their return from their imperial occupation of Afghanistan?

do i support Canadian troops if i call for them to not seek greater opportunity to take command of the Afghan occupation?

did the Canadian troops get together and work up a plan, and cost it out, and prepare for deaths and injuries and present it to Paul Martin and his government to convince him, it and the Canadian population that we should not declare war on the Taliban, yet invade and occupy Afghanistan, thereby meaning that if i don't support the mission, then i don't support the actual people in our military and their families?

is our military comprised of employees of the government, and by extension the citizenry, and committed to following the employer's orders?

am i supporting the troops if i call Prime Sinister Harper a rhetoric criminal by saying i don't support our troops if i don't agree with his imperial, American Idol designs?

do i support our troops if i wish them to come home from a country where we don't have sufficient personnel, money, equipment or civil will to continue fighting and defeating a fundamentalist Muslim Taliban in a failed state, in an alliance run by a de facto fundamentalist Christian theocracy comprised of corporate compradors with a penchant for stoking oil profits?

am i anti-Canadian, anti-troops, anti-America or anti-9/11 victims if i ask why there are fewer than 20,000 troops from NATO countries and friends of NATO countries trying to stop the Taliban, rebuild Afghanistan and find Emmanuel Goldstein, sorry, Osama bin Laden, while there are almost 7 times that number of just American troops keeping just enough anarchy in Iraq to foment a civil war?

am i cynical, anti-freedom, anti-democracy or a threat to our security and way of life if i even suggest that Osama bin Laden is our real-life version of Emmanuel Goldstein, a man better off at large than captured?


am i anti-American if i criticize "President" Bush?

do the same questions about the rhetorical crime of supporting the troops apply equally well--or better--to the situation in the USA?

must i necessarily wish American soldiers to die if i don't support their "president", thereby not supporting the troops?

are Noam Chomsky and Phyllis Bennis anti-American if they criticize their imperial government?

and what about Israel?

am i anti-Semitic if i disagree with the domestic or foreign policy decisions of the de facto fundamentalist Jewish theocracy in Israel?

do i wish all Jews in the world dead because i don't agree with any given decision of the Israeli government?

are Noam Chomsky and Phyllis Bennis self-hating Jews if they oppose any given decision or set of decisions of the Israeli government or decisions of the US government that support Israeli policy they disagree with?

am i threatening national security by asking these questions?

are you?

Copyright 2006, Stephen Buckley
08.07.06 1137am