Crisis in Zimbabwe continues and Mugabe is a fool

July 28, 2007 at 6:09 pm | Posted in Politics | 3 Comments

Yet again, I’d like to delve into the topic of Zimbabwe and its totalitarian leadership. If you would pardon my undiplomatic language, just what the hell is wrong with Robert Mugabe?! Please read the following two news stories, especially the first.

Now I’m no economics major but it would seem to me the more times a government simply prints out moneys the less value said moneys will have. Does Mugabe not realise this? Does he not care? I know I’ve written about this before but this is starting to get even me baffled. Would anyone else like to add their two cents as to why Mugabe is being so cavalier about his country’s rapid inflation, among other things? I could sure use another perspective.

Incidentally, the second story hyper-linked seems to illustrate even further the descent of Mugabe’s regime into totalitarianism. And yet, as some food for thought it’s worth noting that Robert Mugabe’s Zimbabwe isn’t a real totalitarian system of government; if it was, there would be no opposition parties allowed for at all–in fact no opposition parties in any guise period–and there certainly would be no courts and judges that would at least attempt to oppose him.  That’s what a totalitarian system of government is, right? A complete system of absolute control under the leader of one with no meaningful opposition. Under such a definition, in many ways the Russia of today is more totalitarian than Zimbabwe, or even China, but that doesn’t sound quite right. What I need is access to a good political science dictionary–not the junk ones found on the web–that will give me concise definitions for these terms; I myself hate it when people misuse terms in politically heated arguments such as in mixing up the words ‘massacre’ and ‘genocide’.

Regardless as to what Zimbabwe is right now, it’s a disaster and its people are suffering under heavy economic and political brutality. Thus, I’m going to make a prediction. Because Robert Mugabe needs to pay his security forces to beat protesters and stay loyal to him and because even he must surely be starting to run out of money, and for several other reasons as well, I predict that Mugabe will be overthrown by the end of 2008. Whether it is from someone in his security forces, someone next in line for the leadership of his party or opposition forces I can’t say but I am fairly certain that his disgraceful, undignified ouster will be the net result of his arrogance, stubbornness and failed policies, and it will happen by the end of next year. I hope I’m right.

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It’s obvious where Osama bin Laden is located

July 25, 2007 at 5:58 pm | Posted in Politics | 2 Comments

Forgive me–I’m feeling kinda lazy in regards to posts for my blog today, so I dug up this old draft from about 6 months ago that was definitely a work in progress and a mere statement of the obvious. Nevertheless, it’s something to read if nothing else:

It should be obvious to anyone who has been following the news for the past year where Osama bin Laden is “hiding”–almost certainly in the rural border areas of Pakistan. I just can’t get enough of Frontline’s documentaries–even if there may be a leftist slant. I find them very informative. One of their more recent ones that I’ve uncovered is Return of the taliban. I know of course that this has all been extensively covered, but Musharaff’s duplicity cannot be overemphasized.

Of course, the theater in Pakistan continues so one can only guess what will happen in the country next and a scripting error is forcing even this last paragraph to be in italics despite my wishes, so I’m bolding it to indicate I just wrote this part. For a small taste of what’s continuing in Pakistan, click here.

Putin’s Russia, Litvinenko’s murder

July 24, 2007 at 5:52 pm | Posted in Miscellania, Politics | 2 Comments

The poisoned spy–expelled diplomats row between the UK and Russia keeps on getting worse. I’m taking the British government’s side on this one; Alexander Litvinenko was clearly murdered by “former” FSB agent Andrei Lugovoy. Although to be fair, I’m not sure why Britain felt the need to expel four Russian diplomats. Brown’s government knew that the Russian administration would refuse its extradition request; justice and the rule of law are big jokes in the former USSR and they have been for some time. Either British Prime Minister Gordon Brown is behaving overzealously in a misguided effort to show that he cannot be walked over despite an upcoming withdrawal from Iraq, or Scotland Yard sees England itself being intercepted by a host of former-KGB agents attempting to perform hits under the watchful eye of Putin, which is possible considering some recent remarks from the spy agency. Or perhaps Brown is just proving to be very stupid when it comes to diplomacy.

Although he sometimes appears to lose his cool, one thing you can’t fault Putin on is how he makes himself look under such crises; he’s no crude Robert Mugabe with his “we will bash them (in reference to opposition protestors).” Consider his response to Britain’s demand: “‘They need to treat their partners with respect, then we will show respect to them,’ Putin said. ” (Putin accuses Britain of colonialism, July 24th, 2007) On the face of it such a response sounds reasonable enough, but then how does Putin define “respect”?

Anyway, I’ve been reading Death of a Dissident by Litvinenko’s wife and, while she clearly has no neutrality on the subject matter about her husbands life and death, I’m still convinced more than ever before that the bombings that preceded the latest Chechen war–the terrorist explosions in Moscow and at various train stations–were in fact orchestrated by “rogue” elements of the FSB to turn ordinary Russians into an anti-Chechen furor and get Vladimir Putin into power on an agenda to promote security. I am not one of those 9/11 conspiracy theorists, but this conspiracy, as alleged even byAlex Litveninko himself befor his untimely demise, seems to make a great deal of sense when you realise how fractured the FSB is and how they have several different loyalties. The late Boris Yeltsin, whose ill health preceeding his death was in large part due to his self-inflicted alcoholism, had neither the physical or mental strength to get the FSB under control. It’ll be interesting to see how this case develops. Russia’s definitely a country to watch in the news these next few years.

Vanilla milkshakes taste best with real vanilla

July 23, 2007 at 7:37 pm | Posted in Miscellania | 1 Comment

I’m not up for a real serious post today; just letting my family know that I’ve had a pretty good day. Jr. woke me up early at around 7:30 am–possible because the blinds were inadvertently altered during my parents’ last visit and I don’t know hot to quite straighten them out. I had a breakfast of Life cereal with 2% milk, 2 cups of dark-roast coffee, and raisins. At around 9:50 I went for a run to Donland Valley parkway and ended up at a Loblaws I hadn’t been to before, whereby I got assorted goods including organic blueberries on special for like $1.49 per lb. I like it when I save money at the grocery–I’m getting better at it. I know, for example, that when you see a slogan such as “Loblaws saves you more!” that doesn’t mean the item displayed is on sale; it’s just a slogan meant to catch your attention to buy the product. After taking public transit back home and unloading the groceries with jr.’s help, I made a tuna sandwich with kraft cheese and a garden salad with water, then had fat-free vanilla yogurt with added blueberries. I…

Man, even I’m getting bored writing this. These blogs where people write about every single thing that they do; it doesn’t always work. i think more often than not I’ll stick to my news and some other topics. I still want to write about Polynesian culture and mythology, and maybe the Inuit equivalent.

More news of the world

July 22, 2007 at 7:58 pm | Posted in Politics | 1 Comment

I found the following news items to be of interest today:

 

    What is of particular interest to me right now is how Iran’s “dual citizens” (a term Iran does not recognize) is forcing its captives to say some vaguely threatening statements on democracy, somewhat subtly (by Iranian propaganda standards) implying that they are trying to use “western” and liberal ways of thinking and democracy to undermine the Iranian regime and bring chaos. Although my initial response was and still is sympathy and empathy for these captives, who at their hearts want nothing but the best for Iran and certainly do not wish for an American takeover, I have to also conclude that, based on the nature of this theocratic and profundly undemocratic regime the reaction of the authorities has been perfectly understandable and rational. Let’s face facts: The Iran that these advocates are pushing is hardly close to existing in Iran today, because the mullahs have too much power (and power, particularly one vested in absolute authority, corrupts). The caliphs do not want to give up this power–they very much enjoy being in charge either because they feel righteously entitled to it as per the teachings of the Koran–remember that Muhammad never advocated a separation between religion and politics–or cynically enjoy their high and collectively untouchable position, or a combination of both. These advocates of a true Iranian democracy threaten the very system that has been put in place since the Ayatollah Kohmeini took over power in the 1979 coup against the Shah. As is always the case, when you are the coup plotters a coup is justifiable but any type of regime-change is blasphemous and evil when it is your position that is being targeted.

    So in a sense, the accusations from the authorities that these “Westerners” are plotting a “soft” revolution in Iran is correct, because these people being held in custody very much do want to see a change. I think the real outrage here is that at times Iran does purport to be a democracy–or at least one of sorts–as it certainly has more freedoms than Saudi Arabia and many other middle-eastern countries. It has its reformist newspapers that have this seemingly endless cycle of being shut down and reopened and shut down again. The ebb and flow of freedom of expression in Iran is constantly fluctuating. Yet many leaders in Iran still boast about their country’s purported freedoms and respect for religious minorities, and these coerced television appearances show just how much of a facade a lot of this is. If Iran was truly free its leaders wouldn’t mind if some of its citizens voiced a wish for reform over the country’s constitution. The people of Iran need to choose what kind of government they want Iran to be and what kind of society they want to live in.

    Next up on the list is how Egyptian border patrol officers shot and killed a Sudanese woman trying to flee into Israel. We can’t be completely certain why she chose to flee into Israel, but this is all connected to the situation in Darfur, how Darfur affects the rest of Sudan, Egypt’s tenacious and at times racist relationship with Sudan and its African peoples, Israel’s collective memory of the Holocaust, Israel’s concerns for its own security amid the threat of smuggled weapons into and from the Gaza strip, and its cold-again, warm-again relationship with Egypt. Everything comes in full circle and its all connected to each other. There’s another blogger much more knowledgeable on the plight of many Sudanese than I am; if you need a refresher about all things political on Sudan please check out http://www.sudanreeves.org/ .

    You know, I just realized something. Writing and trying to analyze every news story that has caught my attention in a day can take an inordinately long time–if I had the time to be at my computer for multiple hours consecutively, I would have little trouble but much of my blogging is actually done in spurts. So for now, I’m calling it in but I can always modify this entry later if I get the opportunity.

    News of the world resumed

    July 21, 2007 at 1:17 pm | Posted in Politics | 1 Comment

    A litany of world events caught my attention today. These include the following stories courtesy the Associated Press and Reuters.

    In theory I really should go through each story in the order of posting but I’m burning to write about this latest incident in Russian-British relations. Just remember again that I’m still a little rusty…. In the early 1990’s, shortly after the fall of communism, it would appear that Russia’s emerging democracy rapidly transformed into a kleptocracy, whereby “oil barons” and corrupt officials pocketed money at the expense of the general populace, but that doesn’t mean all of Russia’s self-made billionaires were guilty of stealing and there is in fact a difference between outright theft and taking advantage of an opportunity. Although I don’t like The Guardian‘s at-times extreme left-wing slants, the following article’s writer does a colourful yet comprehensive job at explaining the nature of many of these oligarchs, including two that are particularly famous now, Mikhail Khodorkovsky (The man who defied Vladimir Putin and ended up in a Siberian jail. Luke Harding) and Boris Berezovsky (Brainy former mathematics professor and former Kremlin kingmaker who has morphed into Putin’s enemy number one. Luke Harding).

    If you’ve just read the article, you’ll know that a variety of these oligarchs obtained their billions through various means, but mostly through collusion or at best a type of semi-collusion with former president Boris Yeltsin. Personally, I have a place in my heart for Khodorkovsky; he is by no means a hero but he is a type on anti-hero and he certainly does not deserve to be literally rotting away in a Siberian jail for exercising his democratic right to form a tangible opposition to Putin (and let’s face it, that’s exactly why he’s in jail, otherwise he would have been tried and sentenced long before he became politically active). If this is the way that Khodorkovsky is being treated, is it any wonder that the UK is refusing to hand over Berezovsky? After all, what are his chances of getting even the facade of a fair trial?

    This is how this issue connects with this original Associated Press article. You’ll notice how confident and smug Andrei Lugovoi sounds. When he asserts that the British government expelled four Russian diplomats to distract the world from the fact that they have no evidence linking him to Alexander Litvinenko’s radiation-poisoning death, and that Britain has “always hidden con men, swindlers, adventurists and defectors,” he is in fact playing to the Russian crowd and their nationalist fervour; Russia now more than ever in recent history has become an increasingly xenophobic and racist society. Of course the evidence against him must be succinct; there are only so many places a rare radioactive isotope like polonium 210 can come from (for all intents and purposes just about only one place) and Scotland Yard was able to connect the dots based on following the radiation trail, noting who Litvinenko had last spoken to, and especially the video recorded a few years before his death where he fingered Lugovoi directly. Plus as an aside, this video of Litvinenko’s accusations pertaining to the murdered Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya is especially telling. Lugovoi has also made the even more implausable accusations that Scotland Yard, Boris Berezovsky or combination thereof orchestrated Litvinenko’s murder to blacken Russia’s reputation–something only a guilty person would say, but is likely to be widely believed in his home country by citizens fearful and hateful of “the West.” To most Russians, confident fervour is much more preferred to modest humility.

    I ‘m going to have to end this here because my parrot will not leave me alone and because I still haven’t gotten my spark back for writing, so I apologise for that last again. But next entry I should be back in my pre-hiatus form.

     

    A long hiatus is over

    July 20, 2007 at 8:41 pm | Posted in Politics | 2 Comments

    I’m well aware that it’s been almost two months–maybe more–since I published anything on this blog, I had abandoned it. I’ve decided to give this thing another go but I’m bound to be rusty for the first few entries after such a hiatus so please be kind and bear the stilted writing that is perhaps not as concise and as sharply presented as it could be. I know that there’s plenty of news out there, both locally, throughout Canada and throughout the entire world. Putin has helped and may be largely responsible for turning Russia back into a tyranny, or at best an autocracy. The coup-empowered Musharaf has finally found out that governing is a lot harder than initially illegally taking over power to begin with, especially in a state as volatile as Pakistan is right now. The military personnel at Guatanomo Bay have resorted to force-feeding desperate hunger-strikers though a tube; whether most or all of these strikers are guilty of planning terrorist attacks is immaterial–forced feedings are especially painful and cruel and at times vindictive. However, since I’m just getting started again, I’m going to take things slow for the time-being, just to get back into the swing of things. For starters, I’ve been meaning to brush up on my poltical terminology to see how accurate the words I have been using to describe various political systems and contexts truly are. As such, I have found out/confirmed the following definitions from dictionary.com that should be useful for clarity (italics are mine):

    klep·toc·ra·cya government or state in which those in power exploit national resources and steal; rule by a thief or thieves. E.g. Nigeria

    tyranny–a form of government in which the ruler is an absolute dictator (not restricted by a constitution or laws or opposition etc.) e.g. North Korea

    terrorism–the calculated use of violence (or the threat of violence) against civilians in order to attain goals that are political or religious or ideological in nature; this is done through intimidation or coercion or instilling fear. E.g. Al-qaeda

    It would be useful to have an authoritative and unbiased political science glossary of such terms, but I have no present access to one, both materially and on-line. If anyone sees discrepancies in such definitions please don’t hesitate to let me know. For example, when does a terrorist movement become a guerrilla army, and is there even any substantive difference? What, precisely, is state terrorism (not state-sponsored terrorism)? I think these are rather open questions. Does anyone else have any thoughts or knowledge on this, some political-science majors or students of international law, perhaps?

    Well, I know this was a light entry but I think I’m on my way to getting back on track again. Tomorrow, come hell or high water, I’m going to thoroughly analyze the news stories of the day that are of interest to me, no matter how many there are. After all, I have a lot of catching up to do.

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