Thursday, June 02, 2005

Human Shields are Heavy and Smelly but Cheap.

There are many forms of cowardice in this world. Some are more understandable then others. All are saddening. There is one form of cowardice however, that I have always despised more than any other. It is the kind which is displayed when a person or organization tries to protect itself or just escape the consequences of their actions by putting uninvolved people in danger. The defense of "You don't know what it is like to be in our position" carries no weight with me either.

Canadian feelings toward Israel dropped by a full order of magnitude in 2004 when, after having been assured by Israel that their intelligence operatives would not obtain (either by fraud or theft) or use Canadian passports, we discovered that such assurances we just big fat lies to the stupid canucks. As a result, no one can travel in the middle east on a Canadian passport without arousing some suspicion that they could be with Mossad. Add a Jewish sounding name or too much camera equipment and it is only a matter of time before some Canadian traveler disappears into a cell and never comes out. Just ask Iran how easy it is to kill a Canadian and get away with it. Israel has done this to other countries like New Zealand where they tried to steal the passport of someone with cerebral palsy. They must have figured that if they got his name in trouble he would die before any government could retaliate against him. Classy.

Israel's response to Canada has gone from 'We will never do this again; we agree we should not have violated Canadian sovereignty.' to 'We will do as we please because you don't know what it is like to be bombed by terrorists. Israel needs to look out for its own and Canada be damned.' At least they are more honest about it now. As for us not knowing what terrorism is like, we can thank Mossad for doing everything in their power to bring such experiences to us. Now sure, Palestinian intifadorians did kind of invent the concept of "there are no such thing as innocent civilians" (see Ward Churchill for further development of this idea) but as long as everyone is looking out for their own and everyone else be damned, Canada also needs to do what is best for us like boycotting Israeli businesses and breaking off diplomatic contact - though, to be realistic, since we don't do that when Iranian police rape, torture and kill one of our citizens and their government laughs in our face about it, I doubt Israel will stop looking for Canadian passports on eBay. I suppose that since Israel thinks that firing missiles into an urban settings is an "assassination" and everyone else killed is "collateral damage", they will probably not spend much time thinking about how the world or their trading partners see them. (They are probably too busy making tinfoil earplugs to keep the space rays out of their brains.)

Collateral damage is unintended. Unintended means not deliberate. Deliberate means "Done with or marked by full consciousness of the nature and effects". (Dictionary.com) How can anyone authorize a helicopter to fire a missile at someone in an urban setting and not be conscious of the effect? Just how hot is the air they breath in the Middle East? More interestingly, why do the Israelis and Palestinians have any problem living together? Shouldn't one wild-eyed, irrational religious nut seem pretty much the same to the other wild-eyed, irrational religious nut? How do they even tell each other apart? Teach the Israelis how to do that suicide bombing thing and give the Palestinians a US sponsored military and you would instantly have one people - Palisraelistine! Or Ispalestinerael?

But putting other people in danger to make your own job easier seems to be the new business model these days. The CIA has decided to put some young spooks through universities (covert scholarships no less) as anthropologists so that they can go to other countries on the pretext of learning about other cultures and while they are there they can spy on them. Apparently reading legitimate anthropology papers is too hard for the CIA. Now when a young anthropologist goes to a far off country, in addition to having to gain enough trust from the locals to start observing their culture, they also have the added fun of risking being picked up by the local government and tortured in a cell somewhere. Then again some paramilitary group may decide that a village of natives is spilling secrets to the CIAnthropologist and just wipe out the village as traitors. Interestingly enough, in this case the US is also putting its own civilians at risk to accomplish its aims whereas Israel is only letting foreigners take the fall. Is that more noble or less?

So if all really is fair in war time, even if it is a poorly defined war with no start or stop date or a defined front line like, for instance, the cold war or the wars on terrorism, drugs and homelessness, why do we need to have democracy at all? What is with the concern for human rights or rule of law? Why don't all nations just give up, declare permanent martial law and war everlasting and forget all the niceties of civilization. It is not my first choice but it beats the current situation of faking civilization. As long as crimes like Baathist Iraq or Sudan or the latest nightmare regime which the UN is running interference for, Tunisia; as long as governments use civilians as disposable assets, making any claim to there being a "community of nations" is laughable. Just as there comes a time when kids need to put down the underwear catalog and go out and get a real date (now and then), so the time must come when Earth needs to start demanding some simple basic standards of behavior from anyone who wants to live on this planet.

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