Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Let's stop caring and things will improve

I believe that two things are the scourge of western society: an irresponsible (the word is chosen so as not to create offence) electorate and an overly abundant press. The second of these problems is closely related to something I find particularly annoying: the "civilian deaths" obsession.
Every time that something happens (particularly at the hand of the West) headlines scream about the civilian body count. Leaving aside that many so called civilians are not civilians at all, this reaction does not help anyone. First it motivates fighters to position themselves among civilians so as to use them as shield and second it causes civilians themselves to act foolishly. During the actual Iraq war (as opposed to the subsequent fighting) you could see civilians running around in the streets. Any Milanese or Londoner of the age of my grandparents would know that when you hear bombs flying you stay put, in those days because you knew they were aimed at you, today because, well, you never know. Cameras and headlines are no shield to the dying.
It might seem brutal but if we stop caring (by caring of course I mean the squeamish superficial care given by the average morning commuter) civilians death will significantly decrease.
There is a second point to be made, one concerning civilian responsibility. I will take as an example the civilians victims (victims to be intended as dead, injured or homeless) of the recent Israel incursion in Lebanon (which I do not necessarily consider to have been wise). A civilian is injured during an attack against Hizbullah: several options present themselves. The civilian is either an active supporter or a sympathizer of Hizbullah: in this case he is as responsible as an actual fighter. The civilian does not support Hizbullah: in this situation either he should chase the fighters away from his neighbourhood or, should this (very likely) fail, he should move because after that to blame Israel for his misfortune is like blaming a lightening if we casually lean over a lamppost during a thunderstorm. Let me stress the he can blame Israel, but as himself an active participant, not as a casual victim just as if I get strike by lightening I would say “Of course it is the storm’s fault, but I played no small part in leaning over a lamppost”. By excusing civilians in this situation again we are not doing them any favour: if we were to put blame (or, more neutrally, responsibility) where it truly stands, civilians who are actually innocent will certainly make an effort to distance themselves from the others.

Friday, November 17, 2006

The "no alternative" situation: what Jews have to teach nationalists all over the world

A naive and yet logical observer might be surprised reading Turkey's warning to Iraqi Kurds in the matter of independence. His reasoning would roughly follow these lines: in Turkey's eyes Turkey's own Kurds are a problem; the birth of a neighbouring Kurdistan would act as a magnet by spiriting Kurds across the border solving a lot of internal problems. Why oppose it then?

This is indeed a naive view because of course Turkey fears that a neighbouring Kurdistan would prompt Turkey's own Kurds either to strive towards an independent state or towards an annexation of their part of Turkey with the newborn state.

At the birth of Israel Jews were given an oddly shaped state, small, hard to defend and rather barren but this was the chance given to them and they would not waste it by asking for more. They did not try to extend it (ouch! I can hear the anti-Zionists cringe) and they made one of their goals to attract all the world's Jews. (The fact that many Sephardi complained about the way the were treated does not change the fact that they were welcome in Israel.)

In this Kurds are at fault in not making clear, by word or deed, that, first, they would not want to carve anything out of Turkey and second, that they would welcome any Turkish Kurd into Iraqi Kurdistan turning it into some sort of Kurdish Israel. About this second point I am not sure they would. We are talking about Kurdistan but there are other fairly similar situations.

The "no alternative" situation is the one where Jews took what they were offered and toiled for it, knowing that this was all they could get. If you will it, it's not a dream: I guess that many nations across the world prefer to keep dreaming.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

The Iraq war and the London bombings, what's there to discuss?

I saw it mentioned again recently. As soon as the smoke cleared in the London underground, from all sides (actually one) came the accusation that the attack was a direct response to the support given by Blair to the war. This through several passages put the blame on Blair and the people behind him. Irrespective as to whether I am in favour or against the war, my intelligence feels insulted both by the prosecutors and the defendant.
Of course there is direct link between the two, not only it creates a great reason in a terrorist's mind, but the perpetrators said as much. The next reply would be though, so what? If A asks for B's seat on the train and after B's refusal he shoots C, is B responsible for C's death? Of course we need to enquire into B's action, but let us not forget that there is a reason why governments do not deal with kidnappers. It is important to decide up to which point we let ourselves be manipulated and held hostage. This is so simple that I am upset that someone as intelligent as Tony Blair would yield to the general stupidity and deny the charge. Moreover it is not even a choice dictated by politics because by doing that he is not pleasing anyone. I would even forgive someone usually so articulate if he replied, so what?

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Did anyone say partition?

As one can see from the date on the last posting a long time has passed. I decided that I will change my approach to the composition of this page and rather than spend a lot of time in composing long winded pages, I will write smaller postings in the hope that they will be more frequent.

I will ask two open questions: how about partitioning Iraq? Why hasn’t anyone mentioned it? As everyone knows a lot of the problems of an ethnic nature within modern states are caused by the fact that these states are the products of colonial creations. (To the accusation that Britain is at greater fault than other countries one can simply reply that this is because Britain had more colonies and not because of other more nefarious reasons.) Subsequent events led sometimes to partition (e.g. Pakistan) and sometimes not (e.g. Nigeria): sometimes even to reunification as in Vietnam. One could be justified in wondering why it is so hard to break up something that in the first place was put together is such an artificial way. One reason could be that the people put in charge by the departing power were not necessarily of the most honest nature and therefore a larger country has a large scope for greed. Another is that some people honestly believed in artificial ideals, the same type of people (together with the ones that enjoy the kleptocratic element of it) that put and keep together the artificial creation that Italy is.

The situation in Iraq (one of Britain’s creations) is dire. That the problem lies with the relation between three ethnic groups is evident to anyone and yet no one seems to propose the simplest solution: partition. Technically speaking, and this makes the implementation of it far easier than, say, Bosnia, apart from few spots the three groups are geographically well separated. Moreover, under a more selfish point of view, the people that should be in favour of it (Shiites and Kurds) are in power and have the oil fields in their portion of territory. Why the coalition does not propose it is more understandable. They do not want to be accused of breaking up a country. For some na├»ve reasons in an age of internationalism and globalisation people favour more unions than partitions. Also, they would be doing to the Sunnis something not very pleasant: not only they took the power away from them, but they would be taking the oil as well: it is hard to judge what the consequences would be, the Arab/Islamic propaganda machine is very powerful.
I am still asking the question. How bad do things need to become before anyone else joins me?