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Saturday, August 09, 2003

KYOTO: Is it worth it?:
For the cost of implementing the Kyoto Protocol in the single year of 2010, we could permanently satisfy the world's greatest need: we could provide clean drinking water and sanitation for everybody.”

PRO MARRIAGE?: The Labour government often claims to be in favor of marriage but:
“David Blunkett, the home secretary, has told immigration officials that women from Thailand, the Philippines and other countries in the region should be banned from entering Britain as tourists or students unless they first sign a pledge not to marry British men. “
Now no one can have an objection to people who enter into sham visa marriages being targeted; this however seems to be an extreme and, though I hate to use the terms, a racist and sexist affront to liberty. Its probably fair to say that most people who enter take a student visa do so to get an education, get a good job and, maybe meet the right man/woman – with whatever order of priority. And what’s wrong with that? James MacDonald, married to a Thai puts it best:
“I don’t mind them tightening the rules, but what I don’t agree with is that some guy turning up underneath a lorry gets treated better than my wife.”

THE HOPELESS; Edward Luttwak of the Centre for Strategic and International Studies has written an article that just cries out for a fisking. He begins:
It is now three months since Bush declared that the war in Iraq was over. The occupation is costing almost $4 billion a week”
That’s 200 billion a year – more than 2/3rd s of US military expenditure. I think he mean a month, but what’s time when you’ve got a point to make.
“It was agreed that the US and Britain could not simply leave Iraq in chaos after destroying Saddam Hussein's regime, but the standard rememedy - a rebuilt Iraqi military government was not even considered.”
Ah that standard left wing argument that the only “rememedy” that the US seeks to impose is the installation of a Pinochet style military government to rule the third world. Regrettably Edward doesn’t tell us when the agreement to install this junta was reached. Maybe the BBC can tell us.
The best-educated Sunnis and Christians of the Baghdadi elite may admire democracy in theory, but fiercely oppose it in practice because they do not want to ruled by the Shiite majority, and still less by the emerging Kurdish-Shiite alliance. The Shi'ites, who constitute at least 55 per cent of the country's population…………the majority of Shi'ites are illiterate or nearly so, and the only leaders they recognise are their imams and ayatollahs…… there are the Sunnis of central and northern Iraq who, even if utterly uneducated, enjoyed privileged access to relatively well-paid and mostly very undemanding jobs under Saddam Hussein.”
Similarly during the 19th and early 20th century the franchise in Britain was spread from the “best educated” landowning classes, whose feckless offspring enjoyed “well-paid and mostly very undemanding jobs” to the nearly illiterate working class. Was this wrong?
“Some of these figures are loud political activists while others strive to stay out of politics, but all insist that Iraq must be governed by Islamic law, not by the will of an elected assembly that might violate religion as they see it, by legislating equal rights for women, freedom of speech, or the right to drink alcohol, among other sins. In other words, the most likely leaders of a majority of Iraqis reject as a matter of firm religious principle the very idea of inalienable human rights, the fundamental premise of any worthwhile democracy.”
Since when was “the right to drink” an “inalienable human right”? Besides the obvious point that the inalienable democracy choose once to outlaw this right, this paragraph reeks of the hidden objection many of the anti occupationists seem to harbour – a fear that a democratic Iraq will still feel alien to them when they go on holiday – a fear that a democratic Baghdad will look nothing like Berkley. But the point of spreading democracy is not to make every country in the world feel like a comfortable home country holiday for western tourists, it’s to give people, all the people, the chance to create the sort of country they want their children to prosper in.
I urge you to read the whole article, not because it is good, but because it clearly illustrates the angle from which much of the objection to rebuilding Iraq comes from. By this I mean not the old left, but rather the new “socialism for the rich” clique that Julie Burchill has bagged before. For them the only worthy goal that would make Iraq worthwhile would be if Iraq choose to adopt their values. They now realise it will not be the colony they would like to create, and so it must be cast beyond the pale as the illiterates who don’t get the message. But this criticism misses the point entirely, the “pre emptive” invasion was not aimed at creating a country like America, but rather creating a country with no need to feel bitter to America, because democracy will allow it to develop in its own image, not the ideals of some far away west coast elite.
It would be an astonishing achievement of cultural transformation if a functioning Iraqi democracy could be established in a mere 30 years, or indeed 60.”
It would not be astounding as the spread of democracy over the last 50 years shows. Nonetheless it will be hard; but hard yakka for others not what the comfortable socialist rich of today crave.



Tuesday, August 05, 2003

GAY MARRIAGE: The biggest problem with gay marriage is not that homosexuals will abuse it but that heterosexuals will, as shown when France enacted the Pacte Civile de Solidarit in 2000 which recognised homosexual couples and recognised their right to live and work close together:
“The most recent criticism is based on widespread news media reports and claims that the law is being used by some men to evade military service, and by disgruntled public school teachers to obtain transfers to sunnier locations. The controversial new statute was enacted last November….On French Radio RTL the president of the Gay & Lesbian Center for Montpellier, Laurent Benavent, said, "It has become a law of convenience for people who want to break the law. It was designed to give gay and lesbian people marriage rights, and did a poor job of that, but now it is being abused for other reasons," he said….Before enactment, demographic experts forecasted that as many as 10, 000 couples would participate during its initial year. The French newspapers Le Monde and Liberation reported last week that the government has already recorded more than 18,500 PACS, and as many as 40 percent of those are believed to be among heterosexual couples….According to Ouest-France, education officials often send young teachers to low-income or ghetto areas areas for their beginning teaching assignments. The newspaper claimed some teachers were using the law to obtain transfers.
This isn’t an argument against recognising gay marriage but rather an illustration that it creates avenues of abuse that need to be addressed by an argument stronger than the bald cry for equality. Of course heterosexual marriage is frequently abused as a means of selling green cards and work permits, but I suspect that homosexual marriage is more susceptible to misuse. Although it might sound sexist, most people would feel more secure entering into a sham marriage with a same sex mate than with a member of the opposite sex. Why I don’t really know but I know a few friends who have entered into work permit marriages who have been subsequently been burnt by them. This isn’t because cross sex friendship and trust is not possible but rather because the history and culture of heterosexual marriage imposes a social expectation that even a sham marriage should be recognised as more than simply a legal arrangement. By contrast a sham homosexual marriage between two heterosexuals creates no such social more, if only because neither will want to fight publicly that they are really homosexual. Trust that neither side will rat and demand alimony/support is therefore easier to maintain and abuse of marriage perks then more likely. Perhaps?
PROJECTION: Krugman asks
>“instead, their job is to rationalize decisions that have already been made. And more and more, they find that they are expected to play up evidence, however weak, that seems to support the administration's case, while suppressing evidence that doesn't.
Am I describing the C.I.A.? The E.P.A.? The National Institutes of Health?”Or yourself?

Brewers Asked to Create Beer for Women: It’s called Chablis.
BREAKDOWN: It seems that a misunderstanding lies at the heart of Waltermittigate:
“Mr Kelly believed, it seems, that his conversation with journalists was off-the-record and for "background" and would therefore not be reported. Such non-attributable conversations happen all the time at Westminster.
He appears to have been under the impression that the discussion was part of one setting out the government's view of how the Hutton inquiry into Dr Kelly's death would develop. “
A bit of hypocrisy at play here? ON the one hand we have virtually unanimous support for the principle that the BBC was right to protect its source, on the other briefings are on record or off record depending on how the press feels.

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