Friday, May 27, 2005

Short bids to give MPs war veto

Clare Short resigned ofver opposition to the Iraq 'sortie', and now she's trying to stop it happening again by changing the powers of a PM to make a decision without consulting parliament. The objection is that there may be situations when speed is of the essence. I'm strying to think of an example when a decision simply had to be made that quickly [leaving aside pacifist considerations for a moment, jsut arguing within non pacifist terms]. In most cases the time needed for mobilisation would mean that parliament would have time to veto a PM's decision, wouldn't it? Perhaps we're talking missles or cyber-strikes, then?
Guardian Unlimited Politics | Special Reports | Short bids to give MPs war veto

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Pacifist pastor's run in with US government

It's worth jsut noting this as there will o doubt be further news to come on the case. It is worht noting too that man is now on half pay because he has had to move posts.
USA :: Pastor Sues U.S. Over Iraq Trip Penalties

Monday, May 16, 2005

suicide bombing

This is an intersting article on the psychology of suicide bombing along with the history. After giving atour of these things it says: "These are concepts which are very difficult for westerners living largely comfortable lives to grasp. Honour is meaningless to us; we have replaced it with a preoccupation with status and self-fulfilment. We dimly grasp self-sacrifice but only apply the concept to our raising of children."
One thing it misses though, I think, is the way that we talk about 'the Fallen' and the rhetoric of Remembrance: here the language is of sacrifice and of giving ones life. What we need to recall is what these phrases actually highlight and elide. (In saying this no disrespect is meant to men [usually] and their families who 'paid the ultimate price' or 'made the ultimate sacrifice'; whatever my view of the endeavour they were engaged in, I recognise that they were doing right by their own lights and/or in a position where little else could be done, seemingly.)

What is highlighted is something rather akin to suicide bombing: the voluntary giving of life for a cause. The language used makes it sound like a suicide mission, though in fact, what is elided is that for the most part these were ordinary guys who were engaged in trying to avoid being killed [for the most part] whilst trying to do things that would kill and maim the sons of other mothers. What, I suggest, outrages us about suicide bombers is the expose of the rhetoric of war that we indulge ourselves in as an ideological sham. These people really do intend to die, whereas most warriors intend to live, but have a back-up socially acceptable understanding that will lionise them if they fail to survive and so 'win glory'. This at least comforts those left behind and allows them to send more of their sons and brothers to their deaths -if the lottery of battle does not let them live. It also helps to sustain the warrior onto the battlefield until the adrenaline and fear set in; at which point it is too late to realise that an 'honourable' death may be of little comfort. The suicide bomber, having no hope of survival, is freer from these equivocations.

We should recall the figures that show how many men in battle are just so scared that they are pretty bad at harming the enemy [this is probably the real reason for remotely technologising warfare -its better efficiency with ordinance]. Suicide missions at least are effective in this way as well as their psychological effect of disconcerting the enemy. It exposes the difference 'we' believe in our cause; 'you' don't really; so 'we' will win -'you' don't have what it takes.
Guardian Unlimited | Special reports | Honour and martyrdom:

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Peace canal deal for thirsty Middle East

I remember a number of years ago seeing a plan to do this -in fact to go further and flood the dead sea area up to sea level. I'm not sure what that would achieve and I'm pretty sure that it would involve the loss of sites of archaeological interest. This plan looks potentially helpful as part of the peace process since water is likely to be a flashpoint for potential conflict [some would argue that it already is]. Look into the detail of this idea though: in 20-30 years, when the Red sea has retruned to its 'normal' level, what then; how are they going to replace the power and the water?

Guardian Unlimited | The Guardian | Peace canal deal for thirsty Middle East