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Embassy Attacks

I just wanted to write down a few thoughts about the embassy attacks that are occurring.

The first is that I find it completely despicable that Romney has used the events to score political points. That was a very stupid move which all the pundits pointed out the day after he made it. I just heard on the news this morning that some are starting to agree with him as the attacks continue to spread.

They say that the Obama policy has made America weak and these attacks are proof of that.

How completely idiotic can we get? The reason that the USA is unpopular in Muslim countries is due to the support of Israel and the wars in both Afghanistan and Iraq. Those are the two principal reasons (bar none!) and even though they are 100% apparent it is something you will not hear much on the news here.

And guess who started the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq?

George W. Bush – Republican

Who has supported Israel? – Well every single administration has so no blame there. Obama has in fact taken steps to stand up to the Israeli lobby unlike most of his predecessors.

After reading the above, a Republican would think me an apologetic liberal. Keep reading and you will see this is not the case.

My second thought is how far the Muslim world has fallen from their days of glory with the Ottoman Empire and occupation of Spain. Spain is what I know and I know that the Muslims brought science, math and much learning to the rather uncivilized Christians of the time.

My how things have changed.

I try hard to come up with reasons for these attacks and can only guess that they may be related to the following.

1. Unstable Governments – These countries really have no or very rule of law at the moment
2. Thugs and terrorist groups have more leeway now that the dictators are gone and can run amok.
3. Due to the dictators, their societies have really not progressed in the past 40 years or so and have actually digressed.

On one hand I understand that a society needs time to adjust and terrorist groups would take advantage during time of weak government.

But in the end, these reasons and excuses have to stop. Much of the Muslim world needs to take a hard look at themselves and yank their societies into the 21st century.

To put this into very blunt perspective let us look at this example.

The most notable achievement of one society is that it has just put a robot on Mars to conduct scientific analysis.   The most notable achievement of a few other societies are that they go berserk at something offensive on the internet (imagine that!), burn buildings and kill people while screaming about God.

The people (young people especially) of those countries are going to have to fight their own terrorists in order to drag their societies into the 21st century.

The internet is full of offensive material. I can assure you it is not just Muslims for those of you who have never used the internet before.

Just had a thought pop into my head. I wonder if the TV reporter in Egypt was just being careless with this story and didn’t realize how much havoc it would create or if it was done on purpose.

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*9.29.2012 – Update – Well, had some issues with the blog and this post got erased.  Trying to put it back as it was but the story in Libya also keeps changing.  Apparently it was a terrorist attack by various religious zealots.  So, as of 9.29.2012 I only have two comments.

1.  It looks like regular Libyans are grateful to the USA for helping them get rid of Gaddafi.  I was highly encouraged by these two articles.

1.  Hundreds of Libyans hand over their weapons – USA Today
2. After Quaddafi – Foreign Affairs

And finally, I still find this extremely funny:

Following Cultural Awareness Class, Marines Burn Down Own Embassy

What’s in a Headline? – Obama, Libya and Pundits

Every morning right after I open my eyes and before I get out of bed I grab my Iphone.  I check my work mail, then go straight to the news.

For the news, I go to Facebook which being so much more than just the social network of a few years ago is now my news reader.

Today, the news was all about Obama and all the different takes each various news outlet has.

Well, I didn’t watch Obama’s speech, and I didn’t read any of the articles.  I simply read the headlines and the brief description that accompanies them.  Immediately my mind jumps into high gear and a post is starting to form.

I quickly head downstairs to get the thoughts on paper as well as drink my Green Oolong with ginseng and am now sufficiently caffeinated to just dump all of these ideas down on the GC.

So, without further delay, I’ll give you a look into my head with this post, “What’s in a Headline” – The thoughts that ran through my head this morning.

1.  Obama’s Libya speech

- As I mentioned above, I didn’t watch it.  But I can guess it was something along the lines of not sitting by while thousands of people are slaughtered by Gaddafi.

*Side note, there have been quite a few spellings of the dictators name, so I’ll just stick with the one above.

2.  Unyielding President Leaves Some Unswayed – NPR

- Why did we mobilize the US military in Libya?  And why now?
– But for some, the President’s defense of intervention fell short.

a.) Why did we mobilize the US military in Libya?  And why now?

I never liked the use of “we” when referring to government and companies.  This first occurred to me in college when a few acquaintances got their first jobs.  Just after they joined, they would say “We just listed on the stock exchange,” or “We are starting to go global.”

As a language major I found it interesting that they included themselves with the use of “we” when in actuality they had nothing to do with the major moves of the company.  For me, I would just use the company name and say something like “X decided to go global so everyone is excited.”

In a similar vein, regular citizens had no say in deciding whether the US should get involved in Libya.  There was no vote, and even congress had no say.  It was decided by the leaders at the top so I really wouldn’t use “we” here.  Instead I would say the “U.S. Government decided to get involved in Libya.”  I for one was not consulted in the matter so please keep me out of your collective “we.”  (Even though I agreed with the intervention

b.) but for some, the President’s defense of intervention fell short.

I really dislike it when journalists pose the opposite opinion this way.  It just sounds a bit too much like Fox news with their “some say,” then enter a bunch of random nonsense.

When you think about it, there will be opponents to just about everything imaginable, do we really have to include every other opinion on every single subject?  Here are some examples.

Flowers

- Most people like flowers but for some, they cause terrible allergies and believe that society should do away with flowers for the good of the country.

Babies

- Many people like babies, but for some, they are just very loud annoyances which often make a mess in their diapers which contribute to the pollution of the environment.

Yes, of course there will be dissenting opinions, I guess I’m just ruined on this particular phrase thanks to Fox News and company and their stupid rebuttals.

3.  Obama Cites Limits of U.S. Role in Libya – The New York Times

- President Obama defended the American-led military assault in Libya, saying it was in the national interest of the United States to stop a potential massacre.

Yes, I said this in the forum.  Glad to hear Obama is on board with the GC’s view.  ”Some say” that it might be due to oil, but you might recall that the US was on good terms with Gaddafi ever since the war in Afghanistan started and he decided to get out of the nuke business.  So “we” already had a friend in Gaddafi and his oil.  I would think this is about something else and that something else being to stop the killing AND for the reason Al Jazeera points out below.

4.  Flight of the Valkyries – Foreign Affairs

- Pundits and spin doctors were quick to jump on the supposed “gender divide” within the Obama administration leading up to the intervention in Libya.  What role, if any does gender play in policy making?

- Commentators are falling over themselves to explain the “gender divide” among Obama’s staff.  But these discussions reveal far more about gender misconceptions among foreign policy journalists than about the preferences or influence of Obama’s female foreign policy staff.

So there is a gender divide is there? Well, some say so.  (wink)

I bet you it was all the women who were for the war and were jumping up and down, gnashing their teeth to get the operation started wasn’t it.  Oh wait, Palin and Bachmann are not in the White House are they.  My bad.

When I read the last sentence “Obama’s female foreign policy staff” I couldn’t help but having Bill Clinton with a huge smile pop into my head.  I’m sorry, sometimes I just cannot stop him from appearing.

Well, that is not entirely true.  The only time I do not think of Bill Clinton in this subject is when I see a picture or hear Hillary’s name mentioned.  Sorry about that, completely inappropriate but sometimes my mind has a mind of its own.

But, regarding the headline, what is the relevance of using a Valkyrie?  I am familiar with the classical piece and believe a Valkyrie to be a winged sort of monster but are they all female?  Quick Wikipedia check necessary.

Valkyrie - In Norse mythology, a valkyrie (from Old Norse valkyrja “chooser of the slain”) is one of a host of female figures who decide who will die in battle.

Okay, apparently they are all female.  I should have known this from my World of Warcraft playing days but did not know that they were all female.  So I guess it is relevant.

Since this was used, I’d like to share the actual piece with you (it is great!) as well as a way in which it was used that bothers me.

 

 

 

 

 

Yes a very great piece.

 

 

 

 

 

I hate it when used this way however.  As you know I lived in Vietnam and love Vietnamese people.  This just hits too close to home for me as it is what really happened.  I was also disgusted when it won some sort of Hollywood award for best use of music in a movie.  Those monkeys in LA get all excited but have they ever thought about all the people, men, women, children who died?  Or do they just think it is a great way to use a classical piece for a movie?  It makes me very unhappy.

By the way, there movie is called “Apocalypse Now” in Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City) which is very popular with drunk foreign tourists.  They don’t play this song however.

5.  A War of Western Imperialism – Al Jazeera

- Backing of Libyan rebels apparently aims to clean up West’s image across Arab world.

I pointed this out in the forum as well.  I still believe that this is the will of the majority of the Libyan people and is actually a positive thing for the US to do so long as they quickly get out after it is accomplished.  Nothing else to really mention here that I haven’t already.

Well, that is all I have to say.  Time to start work.

 

Global Citizens – Understanding Ourselves

I just read a very good article in the NYT by one of my favorite contributors David Brooks.

The article is here:  The New Humanism

In short, his article speaks about our emphasis on measurements, metrics and reasoning while ignoring our emotions, human bonds and the like.  If you haven’t clicked the article, here is a paragraph where you can obtain the idea.

“I’ve come to believe that these failures spring from a single failure: reliance on an overly simplistic view of human nature. We have a prevailing view in our society — not only in the policy world, but in many spheres — that we are divided creatures. Reason, which is trustworthy, is separate from the emotions, which are suspect. Society progresses to the extent that reason can suppress the passions.”

Read the article if you like, but it is not the main premise which interests me.  Instead it is certain defined qualities that I think might define a Global Citizen very well.  These are things I have written about before and it is nice to see that others are aware of their value even if they are not currently prized in our society.

Let’s take a look:

1. Attunement: the ability to enter other minds and learn what they have to offer.

This is a skill that most people tend to have little, if at all in their character.  In most of my posts I try to help people see the other point of view, mostly from a cultural/international perspective.  In fact, the most popular post in this blog Global Citizen vs. Call of Duty: Black Ops does just that.

I try to get people to understand how certain foreigners would view this game very negatively.  Yet, in our culture and media there was nothing but praise for this game.  Sadly, I could not find one article that raised the same points I do.  The point being, that glorifying war and killing other nations citizens, even in a game, is shameful.  I simply cannot understand how an entire population can not even conceive this.

The lesson is very simple and actually taught to Kindergarteners all the time.  ”How do you think that makes him feel Bobby?”  ”Would you like someone to do that to you Sally?”

How quickly adults forget and become so absorbed in themselves that their entire mindset simply resolves around them?

As for me, I do understand how people of certain other cultures feel and am quite shocked by the lack of understanding when returning to my own culture.

2.  Equipoise: the ability to serenely monitor the movements of one’s own mind and correct for biases and shortcomings.

Again, something I have written about before in my post Mind Control.  Simply reading the title it might sound a bit outlandish.  Yet, it sounds outlandish because it is not something we focus on in our culture.  Instead, it would seem we focus on the exact opposite.

Our media, our daily interactions are all filtered towards things we already believe.  When we hear a dissenting opinion we immediately formulate counter arguments without letting a single shred of possibility into our heads, that the opinion could be correct.  It is almost like we are trained to do this.

How often have we hard “Keep an open mind,” or “Think outside of the box?”  Again, we do the exact opposite.

For me, I find it very valuable to seek out other opinions when I find I’m becoming too entrenched in my own.  I find these opinions in higher level magazines and publications such as The Economist and International Affairs.  I have never heard a well thought out opinion in most mainstream media outlets unless it be PBS.

3. Metis: the ability to see patterns in the world and derive a gist from complex situations.

- Regarding this one, you will see that I often debate myself.  In the forum, I did this just today regarding Libya.   I start out very frustrated that the USA is not taking quicker action on Libya.  I read a dissenting article and then had to retract a bit.

I find it sad that most of the opinions today believe they are 100% correct and everyone “sticks to their guns” as they say.  The moment you believe you are correct about everything is the moment you should realize you really do not understand everything very well.  The more I read, travel, meet others, the more I realize most situations fall into a gray area.

4. Sympathy: the ability to fall into a rhythm with those around you and thrive in groups.

This is a skill that Global Citizens recognize.  A true Global Citizen is a chameleon who can blend in, become like those around him/her.  You put everything you think you know away in a vault in your mind so as not to enter your new surroundings with preconceived biases.  You observe, learn from those around you and then when comfortable, try to reconcile them with your previous mindset.

This might be very hard for the majority of people to accomplish, especially older people set in their ways.  However, with technology and the ease of travel, it is my hope that we will come to understand each other across all boundaries and borders.  I do not give much hope to this happening anytime soon, but perhaps in another 400 years if we do not all destroy each other first.

5. Limerence: This isn’t a talent as much as a motivation. The conscious mind hungers for money and success, but the unconscious mind hungers for those moments of transcendence when the skull line falls away and we are lost in love for another, the challenge of a task or the love of God. Some people seem to experience this drive more powerfully than others.

This one is perhaps the most important.  At what point are we going to stop rationalizing our hatred and simply start loving one another?  I believe another word that could be used for this is bliss.

It is taught to us in most major religions, it is understood to be a valuable quality, so why do the majority of people choose to ignore it?

Well, that is all for tonight.


Why is the West financing the Human Rights Council?

Below is my translation of a column that featured in Danish daily newspaper Berlingske Tidende on May 14th 2010. The column is written by Jacob Mchangama who is chief legal officer in the liberalistic think-tank CEPOS based here in Copenhagen. Jacob Mchangama is a certified lawyer and, furthermore, has a Master’s degree in human rights’ studies.

Denmark and the West, UN laughingstock (again)

Yesterday at the UN General Assembly new members were elected for the UN Human Rights’ Council. As you know, the Human Rights’ Council has since its creation in 2006 been a failure that undermines the same human rights that it was put there to defend. Come yesterday’s referendum and the fiasco is complete. Among the new members of the council are Qatar, Malaysia and to top off the tragicomic show, colonel Gadaffi’s Libya. These three countries are members of an organ charged with promoting:

“universal respect for the protection of all human rights and fundamental freedoms for all, without distinction of any kind and in a fair and equal manner” and which demands that the member states:”shall uphold the highest standards in the promotion and protection of human rights”.

If you doubt whether these three countries live up to the highest standards, you can read about them here, here and here.

The most disparaging part about this development is not the fact that Gadaffi’s Libya now has a seat on what is officially the most prominent human rights organ in the UN. Here we already find a string of non-democratic states such as Russia, China and Saudi Arabia. The most alarming is that Western nations, including the EU, did not loudly and openly protest the continued watering down of the Human Rights’ Council. (Danish) foreign minister Lene Espersen (cons.) was nowhere to be heard and neither have any of her colleagues from other EU countries made statements. In Denmark’s defence we, as far as can be told, did not vote for Libya. But the Danish representative did, I am told, put a mark next to both Qatar and Libya.

Even worse off is the US. During the time of the Bush administration and former UN ambassador John Bolton, the US boycotted the Council because they did not want to legitimize an organ dominated by human rights violators. Furthermore, the Congress decided that no American tax-money should go to the Council. When Obama stepped into office there was great hope of a new dynamic and that the deadlock would somehow be broken. Instead the Americans have time and again demonstrated that Obama’s insistence on dialogue and consensus takes priority over any considerations for basic human rights. Along with Egypt, the Americans have thus sponsored a resolution that opens up for a ban on criticism of religion; refrained from resisting the OIC countries’ attempt to add a protocol banning “defamation of religion”; following yesterday’s referendum the Americans stated that the Council should not be judged on its members but on its praxis. Af if those two things were separate. The American Kumbaya-approach to human rights have had the predictable consequence that only the US and Western countries compromise on principles, whereas authoritarian states rake in the concessions.

(…)

The Malaysian government has held power uninterrupted since 1957. Apart from an increasing Islamization of Malaysian society, the government represses freedom of expression and of assembly. The best example of this is the imprisonment of former finance minister Anwar Ibrahim who had to spend six years in an isolation cell on trumped up charges when he fell from grace. Today, Ibrahim is a popular and outspoken opposition politician who should be the wet dream of the West of a leader in country dominated by Muslims. He – a devout Muslim – fights for democracy and human rights, including equal rights for Malaysia’s religious minorities who are under increasing harassment. I had the pleasure of meeting Anwar Ibrahim at the Oslo Freedom Forum last week where we both partook in a panel debate on human rights (see video here, 4:52 into the file, and here). For a man who has felt the wrath of the government on his own body – and these days is the target of a political trial where he, among other charges, is accused of homosexuality – Anwar Ibrahim exhibits an enormous amount of courage by criticizing the lack of respect for basic human rights in Malaysia. It is also significant that Ibrahim puts crucial emphasis on defending the individual freedom of conscience, such as Muslims’ right to leave Islam without consequences.

(…)

The West is by and large financing UN as it is, and thereby also the Human Rights Council. In the UN Charter it says that the UN should promote the respect for and observance of human rights and fundamental freedoms. As long as Western nations are paying to be dragged round the arena by dictatorships that could not care less about the purpose of UN, the joke is on the West. You have to ask yourself why we have to take part in and finance the Council when we are just going to hand it over to some of the worst states on the planet without a word anyway.

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