Monday, April 23, 2007

Tolerance and Unitarians

Now here is something new to me. There are two religions encompassing people known as Unitarians. See if you can guess which religions from these descriptions.

1. Along with the fundamental doctrine (the unity of God), certain characteristics have always marked those who profess unitarianism: a large degree of tolerance, a minimizing of essentials, a repugnance to formulated creed and an historical study of scripture.

2. An oath of absolute loyalty to a religious leader, to follow his every interpretation of scripture and to foreswear all other interpretations, to hate apostates, blasphemers and unbelievers, and to follow the leader in killing apostates, blasphemers and unbelievers, as may be required.

Not too hard now, was it?

The Islamic unitarianism is better known today as Wahhabism (after its 18th century founder, al-Wahhab). It is the official version of Islam taught in Saudi Arabia and in mosques and madrasses around the world supported by Saudi petro-dollars. It is the version espoused by the Taliban in Afghanistan, and endorsed by Osama bin Laden and his associates and acolytes. But originally, the theology was called ad Dawa lil Tawhid, which translates as The Call to Unity. Hence the name Unitarians.

I am indebted to the excellent book, GOD'S TERRORISTS, The Wahhabi Cult and the Hidden Roots of Modern Jihad, by the British historian, Charles Allen.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Money and elections

Every time I read about the candidates running for President for the Democrats and the Republicans, about the half the coverage talks about their money raising. Apparently, you can't get elected unless you have a big election war chest and you can't get the money unless you are perceived to be a frontrunner or close to a frontrunner. While money is also important in elections in Canada it simply does not have the same prominence it appears to have in the U.S. It seems to give an aura of truth to the proposition that the United States is the best country you can buy.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

"Success" in Iraq

Since U.S. Senator John McCain, bidding once again for the U.S. presidency, has now decided to position himself as the “we must succeed in Iraq” candidate, it is worth reflecting on what success in war means.

In the old days, the really old days, warring parties considered victory to be the sign of success. And victory meant crushing your enemy to the point that it could not hope to continue the struggle and recognized such futility, or the enemy was overwhelmed and eliminated.

In classical times, the destruction of Troy by the Greeks and Carthage by the Romans would have been instances of the latter. Even the destruction of Germany in WWII, while not eliminating Germans themselves, could fit that category. In the 1950s, Britain crushed the communists in Malaya and the Mau-Mau terrorists in Kenya.

The American war of independence is an example of the former. Britain decisively lost to the Americans and understood that it probably could not succeed, even with fresh effort. The success of the Union forces over the Confederacy in the U.S. civil war would also fall into that camp. Likewise, the victory over Japan in WWII was a case where to go on was understood by the Japanese as being nationally suicidal.

Many wars are never really settled satisfactorily. Either the parties fight to a standstill and then just negotiate some uneasy non-belligerent arrangement, or one side simply gives up, sometimes even when it is still militarily strong in the field. The peace following the seven years war between Britain and France in the mid-18th century and the Korean war of the 1950s amounted to “status quo ante-bellum” arrangements. Likewise the peace between Egypt and Irael remains, but tenuously.

Germany simply gave up in 1918, although its army was still occupying France. The French gave up on Vietnam and Algeria after WWII. Twenty years after France left Indo-China, the United States gave up on Vietnam as well.

So what would success in Iraq look like? You can’t give up (that doesn’t have much of a successful ring to it), you can’t crush the Iraqis (you claim to be there to “liberate” them), and you can’t really negotiate anything with anybody that will guarantee peace (that has already been tried and has failed).

I wait to hear Mr. McCain’s explanation.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Some things I don't get

Reading through a couple of on-line Canadian newspapers this morning I came across three anti-war columns, and one that simply fails to recognize that this country is at war, not just in Afghanistan (which is where we are concentrating our limited military resources), but globally. I actually believe that a majority of Canadians do not understand that significant and single point, or they don't want to acknowledge it. I will deal with the latter one first.

1. Gee, we're not really at war

The Toronto Star published a story about the single survivor of the Easter Sunday bomb blast that took out an armoured vehicle in Kandahar and snuffed out the lives of 6 Canadian soldiers. It was a nice human interest story until I got to the part where they reported on the soldier's mother talking to him by telephone. The mother's name and city of residency appeared in the story. Where she lives is not a big community, and I suspect it would not be difficult to trace the lady to her home.

Why would this matter?

Her son is fighting Muslims in a Muslim state.

The latest estimates of the number of Muslims in Canada, as of 2006, is 783,700. This by the way, is a growth of 35% in the five years since the 2001 census. An Environics Research Group public opinion poll, taken and published in February of this year, on Muslim satisfaction with Canadian residency, indicated that about 14% of our Muslim population identifies with the aims and goals of Islamic extremists -- you know -- the guys we are fighting in Afghanistan.

Fourteen percent of 783,700 means that over 100,000 of our Muslim residence probably seriously object to our army being in Afghanistan. Since we don't police the Muslim leaders in the mosques (religious freedom) we don't know what "inspirational" messages some easily-influenced young Muslims may be receiving.

A word to the 'should be' wise: Don't publish personal information about the families of soldiers serving overseas who are still active in the war zone.

2. Hey, there's a big remembrance ceremony at Vimy Ridge; time to crank up the "all war is evil" rhetoric and rain on the parade; we wouldn't be fulfilling our Canadian duty or living up to our heritage unless we diminish a proud or a poignant moment in our history.

Can we ever have enough people in this country like Michael D. Wallace, a professor of political science at the University of British Columbia, who wrote in the Toronto Star the following:

The Harper government and its amen chorus in the media seem intent on perpetuating the mythology of the Battle of Vimy Ridge (more properly, the battle for Arras) as the "birth of the Canadian nation."
The presence of the Queen and the last-minute concession allowing opposition members to attend the ceremonies may remove the partisan sting, but rest assured Prime Minister Stephen Harper will use the occasion to resurrect the myth that our country was born on the points of Canadian bayonets at Vimy.
And, sure as God made little green apples, there will be a segue somewhere in the speech linking Vimy to the "heroism" of our forces in Afghanistan, implying that opposition to "the mission" somehow betrays the patriotism of our national creation myth.

In fact, Prime Minister Harper did not link Vimy Ridge to Afghanistan. That honour fell to the Queen. There is nothing sinister, inappropriate or wrong with pointing out that the present generation of Canadian soldiers has been called upon to support our allies in fighting in foreign lands.

Wallace is simply an anti-war ranter -- go to this link and read the rest of it to see what I mean. There is nothing wrong with an anti-war viewpoint as long as you understand that your viewpoint will always be safe and protected because others are prepared to take the risk and make the sacrifice to preserve your right to voice your opinions. You ought not to be so churlish and piss on their special day.

One final word. Historians can always go back and desconstruct a war with the benefit of hindsight. And while it is true that WW1 was not a conflict in which Canadian freedom was directly threatened, it was a war in which we felt morally obligated to support our allies. Sometimes that is the only and sufficient reason you go to war.

If you want to see what a difference a war can make to the image of a country, follow this link and read Ezra Levant's column.

Monday, April 9, 2007

Ice age ending

I love this cartoon. Thanks to

Sunday, April 8, 2007

Vimy Ridge and Canada at war

Tomorrow, April the 9th, is a significant day. First, it's my birthday.

But not foremost in importance.

This April 9 is also the 90th anniversary of the battle of Vimy Ridge. This battle has been credited by historians as being the turning point in Canada shedding its colonial forelock tugging to Britain and coalescing as an independent nation.

Tomorrow, at Vimy, there will be a ceremony attended by tens of thousands, including 5,000 high school students from across Canada, marking the anniversary and the restoration of the monument. The Queen and the Prime Minister will attend. What is generally not known is that the land around the monument was deeded by the government of France to Canada as a gift from the French people of gratitude for Canada's sacrifices in the war for the liberation of France.

Sadly, there will be no Canadian veterans of WW1 present, as there have been at past ceremonies. There are only two still alive, one is 105 and the other is 106, and their health will not permit the travel.

I have copied the entry on this subject from Wikipedia, along with a good photo of the monument and another interesting historical one showing Adolph Hitler visiting it after the fall of France in the second world war. Hitler appreciated the monument because it was not triumphalist in its tone, but spoke of somber grief. If you have read anything about Hitler you will know that he was very moved by architecture. He apparently ordered the feared Waffen SS to guard the monument against vandalism.

Hitler visits his favourite enemy war memorial.

Canadian National Vimy Memorial

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Canadian National Vimy Memorial is one of Canada's most important overseas war memorials to those Canadians who gave their lives in the First World War. It was constructed as the national memorial for Canada's 60,000 war dead and is located in France, on the site of the Battle of Vimy Ridge. The memorial stands atop Hill 145, near the towns of Vimy and Givenchy-en-Gohelle, in the Pas-de-Calais département of northern France. France deemed the area surrounding the monument, about 1 km², to be Canadian territory in 1922, as an expression of gratitude to the Canadian people for their sacrifice during the war and for capturing Vimy Ridge in April 1917. The entrance to the park bears the sign "the free gift in perpetuity of the French nation to the people of Canada."


The memorial was designed by Canadian sculptor the late Walter Seymour Allward, his proposal being selected from 160 submissions by Canadians who participated in a competition held in the early 1920s. Construction of the memorial commenced in 1925 and took 11 years; the official unveiling was on July 26, 1936, by King Edward VIII, as one of his few official duties during his short reign as King of Canada, in the presence of French President Albert Lebrun and over 50,000 Canadian and French veterans and their families.[1]

The two main pylons of the memorial, representing Canada and France, rise 30 metres above the sprawling stone platform.[2] Various stone sculptures exhibit a wealth of symbolism and assist visitors in contemplating the memorial as a whole. Due to the height of Vimy Ridge, the topmost stone sculpture — representing peace — is approximately 110 metres above the Lens Plain to the east. The sculptures were created by Canadian artists, and record and illuminate the sacrifice of all who served during the war and, in particular, to the more than 66,000 men who lost their lives. The names of the 11,285 Canadian soldiers who died in France but who have no known grave are carved on the memorial (the names of those who died in Flanders are on the Menin Gate). Visitors approaching the front of the monument will see one of its central figures: a woman, hooded and cloaked, facing eastward toward the new day. Her eyes are downcast and her chin rests on her hand. Below her is a tomb, draped in laurel branches and bearing a helmet. This grieving figure represents Canada — a young nation mourning her fallen sons. Jacqueline Hucker, an Ottawa art historian from Ottawa who served on the conservation team that recently restored the Vimy monument, declares that "It was like no other war memorial that had gone before" because Vimy was not a war memorial which was devoted to triumph or the glory of a great military leader, but rather to a profound sense of duty towards the legions of men who filled the ranks of the dead.[3] Hucker adds
"There are no signs of victory there at all...It expresses our obligation to the dead, and the grief of the living--sentiments of sacrifice that you do not see in war memorials until this time."[4]

The 20 statues present on the Vimy Memorial site were originally sculpted by Allward in roughly life-size out of unfired clay. These were then replicated in more durable plaster, and the plaster copies were sent to France, where French stonecarvers replicated them again in stone, while doubling their size. The plaster working copies, nearly destroyed in the 1960s, are now on display in Canada, with the Canadian War Museum showing 17 and the Military Communications and Electronics Museum attached to Canadian Forces Base Kingston showing the remaining 3.[5]
Today the site is designated by the Canadian government as a National Historic Site. In addition to the monument itself the memorial includes a small museum, an area of preserved trenches and tunnels, and nearby cemeteries of those killed in the battle.

In 2004, the memorial was closed for restoration work, including general cleaning and the recarving of names, with the statues moved off-site, cleaned and restored. The restored memorial will be inaugurated on April 9, 2007, the 90th anniversary of the battle. It is scheduled to be rededicated by Prime Minister Stephen Harper, along with Queen Elizabeth II, as Queen of Canada. The rehabilitation plan for Vimy Memorial is part of the Canadian Battlefield Memorials Restoration Project, directed by Canada's Department of Veterans Affairs in cooperation with other Canadian departments, the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, consultants and specialists in military history.

• The magazine After the Battle published a photographic history of the site following the repatriation of Canada's Unknown Soldier, which included a ceremony at the Vimy Memorial. One of these photographs depicted the memorial's most notorious visitor: Adolf Hitler. In 1940, after his armies conquered France, Hitler toured the Vimy Memorial and its preserved trenches. Hitler had been decorated twice for bravery as an infantryman during the Great War and saw combat in the general vicinity of Vimy, often against Commonwealth soldiers in similar trenches. While Hitler had no qualms about destroying culturally significant locations in France including many French war monuments which were torn down by the Nazis, the Vimy memorial carried no messages of Allied triumph over Germany and thus was protected. University of Ottawa historian Serge Durflinger[1] notes that "Hitler admires it immensely, he says so at the time. As a result, the Germans respect[ed] the memorial all through the war."[6]

• The novel The Stone Carvers, by Jane Urquhart, is set amongst the creation of the memorial.

• Pte. Herbert Peterson of the Loyal Edmonton Regiment was killed during a raid on German trenches on the night of June 8-9, 1917, near Vimy Ridge. Peterson’s remains were not discovered until 2003. He was identified in February 2007 through a DNA match with a relative. [7] There was an Interment Ceremony for Private Peterson on Saturday, April 7, 2007 [8]

A nod to Easter

Today is Easter Sunday and it seems only fitting that I should mark the occasion. This is the most important day in the Christian faith of which there are still more adherents than Muslims (but the Jesus folk better start getting busy in the bedroom if they want to keep the lead position). This is the day Christians celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ who is reported to have walked from his tomb, following his execution, and risen to heaven to be with his father, God. This is the visual image of the path Christians are to follow to gain everlasting life in the "next world."

Much is made of Christmas, the made-up birthday of Jesus, especially in the recent repeated seasonal wars with the PC army and the Multicults. But, the fact remains, that without Easter, there might not even be a Christian religion today.

I personally don't buy into any of this stuff, although I think it makes for great stories. I love Christian traditions like Christmas and Easter simply because they are part and parcel of my Western heritage. I would not throw them away simply because I have become a Humanist in my head and my heart. Christmas in particular has universal appeal beyond its Christian roots if only because of the simple refrain one hears at that time of year, "peace on Earth and goodwill towards mankind." What else should one wish for no matter what faith or belief?

Oddly enough, I grew up in a Christian (Protestant) family. My father regularly attended church and I also dutifully attended Sunday school until my early teens. I learned all the Bible stories. Then I chose the non-religious life. My current wife was very religious to a point much later in life, and, even though church attendance is not something she bothers with today, she still maintains her belief in God, angels, the Bible stories, etc.

At Easter, they often recycle good old biblical epics on the television movie channels, with Charleton Heston leading the Israelites out of Egypt, or winning a chariot race. I often wonder when he appears before Ramses why he doesn't shake his staff in the Pharaoh's face and shout, "From my cold dead hands." Maybe that scene got left on the editing room floor.

My wife and I like to sit down with a bowl of popcorn and watch these dramas. She is always amazed, knowing my irreligious attitudes, how I can quote the scripture before the character mouths it on the screen. I tell her that I did not waste my time at Sunday school, even if I have chosen to go in a different direction.

Cartoon, courtesy http//

Saturday, April 7, 2007

The Paradox

Now here is a statement that puzzles me. In my January post regarding Israel and other Muslims states, I received a comment from Tossing Pebbles in the Stream to the effect that Israel should be held to a higher moral standard because it purports to be a secular, liberal democracy. I have heard this kind of utterance before, but what is interesting to me is that the blogger in this instance is an ordained minister in the Christian faith.

If I understand people who believe in the existence of a sky-god, they also believe that this god made mankind and that this god's laws are superior to any laws made by mere mortal man. It would stand to reason that a state that governed itself in accordance with god's laws should be held to higher moral standard than a mere liberal democracy. However, if you examine the human rights record of some states that govern themselves in accordance with god's laws (e.g. Iran, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia) you would be forced to conclude that a liberal democracy is far superior.

Humankind's pivotal role in the Universe

This is an excellent site putting some perspective on the all important impact of human beings on the universe. When you download it, make sure you scroll down to the end. And pause for a moment at the page that shows the relative size of our solar system's planets compared to our sun. Ask yourself, does it really make any sense the climate on earth is governed by the number of SUVs on the highways when you compare them to that enormous furnace in the sky?

Pelosi and the Maple Leaf

Even the Congressional Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, wears the Maple Leaf when she travels to countries not normally friendly to the United States.

Cartoon, courtesy of http//

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

The United Nations won't defend its agents

This an editorial from today's Toronto Star with which I am in complete agreement. There are so many wishy-washy, western civilization-loathing Canadians who cannot see the importance of taking strong stands on issues like these and who forget which team they should rooting for. It's nice to see a newspaper that I believe normally caters to these useful idiots (thank you, Vladimir Lenin, for the phrase) taking such a stance. I wonder if the head editorial writer was on vacation when this found its way into print.

Regardless of how the Persian Gulf standoff between Iran and Britain plays out, the United Nations has emerged looking bad. Simply put, the Security Council failed to forcefully stand up for British troops serving the UN, when they were treated outrageously by a scofflaw regime.

Like Canada's military in Afghanistan, the 15 British sailors and marines from HMS Cornwall who were seized by Iran's Revolutionary Guards on March 23 were on lawful UN-sanctioned duty. They were assisting Iraq's elected government by monitoring merchant shipping along the Iraq-Iran maritime frontier to thwart smuggling and security threats. They should never have been arrested, much less held this long.

Recognizing that, Prime Minister Stephen Harper's government last Wednesday demanded Iran "immediately release" the captives, noting they were engaged in "legitimate and routine boarding operations." In Washington this weekend, U.S. President George Bush went further, calling the sailors "hostages" and slamming Iran's "inexcusable behaviour."

The European Union has also voiced "unconditional support" for the British side, chided the Iranians for "a clear breach of international law," and demanded the troops' "immediate and unconditional release."

Given this barrage of international condemnation, the UN Security Council should have been emboldened to forcefully condemn Iran's outrageous action and to threaten stiff sanctions, if only to deter future attacks of this sort on forces deployed on its behalf.

But the council managed to issue only a feeble statement last Thursday voicing "grave concern" and urging an "early resolution of this problem."

It was a pitiful show of weakness that hurt the UN's credibility and betrayed British troops serving the organization. Far from undercutting Iranian hard-liners such as President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, it will boost their stature and sap UN efforts to get Tehran to renounce nuclear weaponry. It also won't help the United Nations the next time it appeals for countries to provide troops for some peacekeeping mission.

By yesterday, as pressure continued to build on Tehran, senior Iranians announced they want to resolve the crisis through talks with Britain on how to avert future disputes. At the same time, both sides continued to dispute whether the British sailors were operating a kilometre or so on one side of the unclear Iraq-Iran border or on the other.

But even if the British craft did stray into Iranian waters, something Prime Minister Tony Blair denies, Iran's better-armed Revolutionary Guard vessels could easily have warned them off and escorted them back into Iraqi waters. A technical violation of Iran's sovereignty by a UN-approved force would pose no great threat to Iranian security.

Even so, Iran's forces arrested the sailors at gunpoint and took them to Iran. They refused British diplomats access, threatened to put the captives on trial and paraded them shamelessly for propaganda, mouthing statements praising their captors and "confessing" they had trespassed.

It was a shameful, lawless spectacle.

The Security Council should have said as much.

Saturday, March 31, 2007

Mohawk Warriors and the terrorists

The latest big flap in the ongoing aboriginal saga in Canada is the Mohawks getting upset that the Canadian Department of National Defense has just put together a new counterinsurgency manual for the army that mentions the Mohawk Warriors as potential terrorists. See here.

Hmmm. Now why would the defense department do a thing like that? Could it be because the Indians marched in the "support Hezbollah" rally last year in Toronto? Might it have something to do with them flying the Palestinian flag at the entrance to the Caledonia land site that they illegally invaded and continue to occupy? See here.

Could it have something to do with this statement by a Six Nations spokesperson?

"The Aims of Hezbollah are akin to the radical warriors. Hezbollah like Hamas does not recognize the state of Israel and would like the Jews to leave.", states Hazel Hill , spokesperson for Six Nations. "Our position has never changed. We the Title Holders as recalled by Wampum 44 of our constitution, the Kaianereh'ko:wa, retain jurisdiction over our land. As set out in the Haldimand Proclamation, the British promised to respect this. Canada's would-be colonizers pretend that land held in trust is "Crown" land. This is an old hoax which is enforced at gunpoint. The British Crown has no legal jurisdiction over our land or over us. We were here first. We never agreed to join Canada. So what are you colonists doing here? Go home. "

If you are going to identify with terrorist organizations, don't be surprised or outraged if the government starts planning counterterrorist measures to deal with you. In fact, they would be delinquent if they did not.

A child's view of retirement in a mobile home park

What follows is humourous piece from a publication called Senior Life, dated April, 1988. It was recently passed on to me and I thought it deserved to be preserved on the Internet.

After a holiday break, the teacher asked her small pupils how they spent their holidays. One little boy's reply went like this:

"We always spend our holidays with Grandma and Grandpa. They used to live in a big brick house, but Grandpa got retarded and they moved to Florida. Now they live in tin huts. They ride big three-wheeled tricycles. They go to a big building they call a wrecked hall, but if it was wrecked, it's fixed now.

They play games there and do exercises, but they don't do them very well. There is a swimming pool and if they go into it, they just stand there in the water with their hats on. I guess they don't remember how to swim.

My Grandma used to bake cookies and stuff, but I guess she forgot how. Nobody cooks there. They all go somewhere to eat something they call an 'early bird.'

When you come into their park, there is a doll-house with a man sitting in it. He watches all day so they can't get out without him seeing them. They wear badges with their names on them. I guess they don't know who they are.

My Grandma said that Grandpa worked all his life and earned his retardment. I wish they would move back home, but I guess the man in the doll-house won't let them out."

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Finally, a face to face debate on climate change

In New York City, on March 14, scientific climate skeptics got to debate face to face with scientific climate crisis promoters. Go to this site to access the transcript of the debate in pdf format.

For a long time crisis promoters have been trying to shut down the skeptics and pretending that they don't need to debate them because there is nothing to debate or simply refusing to do so (Al Gore).

This debate was broadcast on public radio and the voting results were interesting, to say the least:

Before the debate, 57% of the live audience thought climate change is a crisis, 30% thought not, and 13% were undecided. After the debate, only 42% considered it a crisis, 46% thought not, and 12% were undecided. There was also an on-line poll after the debate and it broke down as follows: Again 42% thought there was a crisis, but 57% thought not, and only 3% were undecided.

I doubt you will see very many "chicken little industry" voices going out to debate the skeptics head to head after this one. They would be putting all their juicy grants in jeopardy and facing unemployment.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Secular Islam Summit - a beginning

In early March there was a conference held in St. Petersburg, Florida, billed as the Secular Islamic Summit. It attracted the top names in reform-minded Muslims. These are Muslims or ex-Muslims who believe the time has come to rethink Islam in much the same way Christianity went through a period known as the Reformation. The Reformation led directly to the Enlightment era that became the crucible in which modern secular liberal democracy formed. In a word, these Muslim critics want to bring Islam out of the 7th century into the 21st.

These are very brave people. Many of them face death for speaking out in this manner, and some of them are only known by aliases they have adopted. Some travel constantly and never reveal where their homes or families might be. Others, for whom it is too late to disguise their true identities, must maintain bodyguards. It is no small thing that they came together in one place for this conference.

Naturally, CAIR (Council on American Islamic Relations) which claims to be the main voice of American Muslims condemned this conference and held a counter session nearby. Some of CAIR's leaders have been accused of abetting terrorism, and CAIR's main contribution to the debate of the future of Islam in the west has been to accuse anybody who wants to question or challenge Islam as being "Islamophobic".

The secular summit produced a document known as the St. Petersburg Declaration. I have reproduced it below. Let us hope that the word of reform spreads amongst Muslims and picks up a head of steam. Perhaps the summit will become an annual event.

Released by the delegates to the Secular Islam Summit, St. Petersburg, Florida on March 5, 2007
We are secular Muslims, and secular persons of Muslim societies. We are believers, doubters, and unbelievers, brought together by a great struggle, not between the West and Islam, but between the free and the unfree.

We affirm the inviolable freedom of the individual conscience. We believe in the equality of all human persons.

We insist upon the separation of religion from state and the observance of universal human rights.

We find traditions of liberty, rationality, and tolerance in the rich histories of pre-Islamic and Islamic societies. These values do not belong to the West or the East; they are the common moral heritage of humankind.

We see no colonialism, racism, or so-called “Islamaphobia” in submitting Islamic practices to criticism or condemnation when they violate human reason or rights.

We call on the governments of the world to

reject Sharia law, fatwa courts, clerical rule, and state-sanctioned religion in all their forms; oppose all penalties for blasphemy and apostacy, in accordance with Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human rights;

eliminate practices, such as female circumcision, honor killing, forced veiling, and forced marriage, that further the oppression of women;

protect sexual and gender minorities from persecution and violence;

reform sectarian education that teaches intolerance and bigotry towards non-Muslims;

and foster an open public sphere in which all matters may be discussed without coercion or intimidation.

We demand the release of Islam from its captivity to the totalitarian ambitions of power-hungry men and the rigid strictures of orthodoxy.

We enjoin academics and thinkers everywhere to embark on a fearless examination of the origins and sources of Islam, and to promulgate the ideals of free scientific and spiritual inquiry through cross-cultural translation, publishing, and the mass media.

We say to Muslim believers: there is a noble future for Islam as a personal faith, not a political doctrine;

to Christians, Jews, Buddhists, Hindus, Baha’is, and all members of non-Muslim faith communities: we stand with you as free and equal citizens;

and to nonbelievers: we defend your unqualified liberty to question and dissent.

Before any of us is a member of the Umma, the Body of Christ, or the Chosen People, we are all members of the community of conscience, the people who must chose for themselves.

Endorsed by:

Ayaan Hirsi Ali
Magdi Allam
Mithal Al-Alusi
Shaker Al-Nabulsi
Nonie Darwish
Afhin Ellian
Tawfik Hamid
Shahriar Kabir
Hasan Mahmud
Wafa Sultan
Amir Taheri
Ibn Warraq
Manda Zand Ervin
Banafsheh Zand-Bonazzi

To endorse the St. Petersburg Declaration, send an email.

Thursday, March 8, 2007

Canada's ambivalence to 5th columnist Islamism

A couple of days ago, I opened up the on-line version of a mainstream Toronto newspaper and the imagery couldn't have been more jarring.

The top picture showed a Muslim woman all decked out in black with the nijab (head and face covering), exposing only her eyes. She was celebrating, with her 6 children, the release from prison after a 5 year stay, under strict conditions, of her 44 year old husband, Egyptian Mahmoud Jaballah, courtesy of Canada's federal court.

Jaballah is an immigrant who, along with a handful of others who have also been released under conditions, was being held under a "security warrant." This is a draconian legal device to hold somebody deemed dangerous to national security without having to formerly charge them and bring them to trial. Canada's answer to Guantanamo.

The court has already ruled that he cannot stay in Canada, but it is unclear where they will send him, since it is likely if he were deported to Egypt he would be tortured and/or killed (he fled Egypt to Canada in the first place). We don't know the details of the evidence against him because it is still considered a state secret, but I am betting that he wasn't picked up by our authorities for selling Bibles door to door, or that he was chased out of Egypt for the same thing ( a death sentence there). The only thing we do know is that he was associated with Ahmed Saad Khadr, the now deceased -- died in a gun battle with Pakistani troops -- patriarch of the odious and poisonous Khadr clan in Toronto (dubbed by Dr. Daniel Pipes as Canada's first family of terror).

That wasn't so much disturbing to me (disturbing as it was) as the juxtapostion with the picture immediately under that story. It was a picture of the boy next door, the fresh-faced, apple pie eating, 25 year old Nova Scotian, Cpl. Kevin Megeney. He reportedly was killed in his tent in Afghanistan by a single bullet, apparently fired by accident by some fellow soldier. The matter is being investigated and the military is silent on the details.

But this single front page says so much about Canada's ambivalence about Islamism. We are sending our soldiers into battle with Islamists to protect another bunch of Muslims who run their country under the law of the Sharia (but a less strict version -- still allowing the death penalty for converting to Christianity, mind you).

I wonder if Cpl. Megeney was a Christian.

At the same time we have, by polling estimates, about 10% of our domestic Muslim population (that 10% translates into approximately 50,000 in aggregate numbers) who support the supplanting of our liberal democracy with an Islamic state, perhaps run by theocracy like Iran. That poll number, by the way, corresponds to international estimates of Islamists amongst the greater Muslim population, which translates into a staggering 120,000,000 such people.

In World War Two, our fathers and mothers did not have any qualms about quashing 5th columnists. The Japanese were rounded up, along with some Germans and Italians. Of course, it was the worst kind of racial profiling and some very unpleasant things were done to the Japanese in particular. It was possible to do this in Canada because it was about 74% English and 22% French -- there was no ethnic mosaic, no political correctness (they used to openly talk about the yellow peril in Parliamentary debates), no consideration of moral relevancy, no multiculturalism imperatives, and no charter of rights.

We can't do that kind of thing anymore, even if circumstances might suggest it. Nor would I advocate such a thing. But, it is clear to me that Canada is at war with Islamism -- or what the hell is our army doing in Afghanistan -- and that being said, these Islamists in this country are 5th columnists. We need to stop coddling them and start considering what action we can take if they are undermining our war efforts by sapping our political morale.

Or, we need to cease being at war with Islamism in Afghanistan.

Either way, we need to stop sacrificing the Cpl. Megeney's for nothing.

Monday, March 5, 2007

The truth about inconvient evidence

What follows is actually about the U.N.’s International Panel on Climate Change (“IPCC”), and a very simple fact about it that I have never seen discussed in any of the voluminous commentary about this organization. I say this because when you start reading this you will think I am on about crime and detection. I am simply drawing a parallel to a common human weakness that infects both worlds.

Suppose you walked out your door one day and were greeted by the sight of a crowd, police cars, news media, and yellow police tape, around your neighbour’s house, a few doors down the street. You hustle down in time to hear the chief of police giving a statement.

He tells the assembly that your neighbour, Mrs. Smith, has been discovered by a cleaning lady, slashed to death in her bedroom. Her husband’s whereabouts are unknown and the police are seeking him. At this very moment criminal investigators are examining the evidence in the house. Any help that the neighbours can give that will shed light on this horrible crime would be greatly appreciated. He then states that there will be a solid police effort to hunt down and prosecute Mr. Smith for this murder.

His last statement leaves you shaking your head. Surely, he is prejudging the outcome of the investigation! Mrs. Smith might have been killed by the cleaning lady, another relative, a jealous lover, an intruder, a co-worker, a contract killer, almost anybody. There might have been more than one person complicit in her death, even if her husband was somehow involved.

What worries you, because you know this happens more often than it should, is that the police and the prosecutors will look only for and at evidence that implicates Mr. Smith and will ignore exculpatory evidence or evidence that points to another perpetrator if they have decided at the outset that he is the only one worth pursuing.

Several years ago in Toronto, the police and the prosecutor concentrated all their investigative and prosecutorial efforts to bring to justice a nurse, Susan Nelles, for her alleged murder of several babies at Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children. The reason they focused their efforts on her was because Ms. Nelles said she wanted to contact a lawyer before she spoke to the police.

As it turned out, nurse Nelles was not in the hospital when a couple of the children died. But, so determined were police and the prosecutors to nail Nelles, they ignored the evidence that eventually a judge said exonerated her.

Best-selling novelist, John Grisham, has recently published his first non-fiction book, An Innocent Man, about just such an event in Oklahoma with more sinister results.

Do you ever watch Law and Order? How many times have you seen the police and prosecutors on that show wake up to the fact that they are going after the wrong suspect halfway or three-quarters of the way through the episode.

At least on this show, the cops and the assistant district attorneys know enough to shift gears. It is common when mistakes are made and criticism appears for authorities to stubbornly cling to their first wrong conclusions and vehemently deny that they could have made a mistake. Grisham’s book is chilling insight into that kind of behaviour and its horrible consequences.

We expect investigators of crimes to keep an open mind and look at all the evidence, even if they have early suspicions about the identity of the perpetrators. We expect them to draw their conclusions only after the evidence overwhelming leads in one direction.

Although science plays an increasingly important role in criminal prosecutions, as any fan of the TV show, CSI, knows, it is not without its flaws as well.

Currently, in Canada, we are being treated to the umpteenth legal review of the conviction for murder of now 61 year old Steven Truscott. He was 14 years old when he was accused of raping and killing 12 year old Lynn Harper in 1959. His prosecution was based solely on circumstantial evidence and one of the key pieces of evidence was the conclusion of the pathologist about the time of Harper’s death based on 1959 knowledge about the rate of digestion and the examination of the contents of Harper’s stomach. Science has moved on and that evidence is now highly suspect.

Likewise, in The Innocent Man, Grisham refers to the problems with matching hair samples found at crime scenes. Prior to DNA becoming the mainstay of forensic science in the 1990s, this kind of evidence had a questionable history in criminal prosecutions. So much so, that Grisham recounts a U.S. nationwide test in 1978 involving 240 of the best crime labs in the country. A majority of the labs proved to be wrong 4 out of 5 times. In another test, accuracy increased when the tester had no idea which sample was the one of interest to the police, and correspondingly declined when the prime suspect was known to the tester.

Author Michael Crichton, in testimony before the U.S. Senate on the issue of climate change, referred to the “double-blind method testing of drugs”. This is a formal process carried out in the medical field to eliminate any possibility of a drug’s efficacy being influenced by the knowledge of those taking the drug and those actually administering it. It is the gold standard in the scientific field. It prevents the kinds of errors Grisham outlined in the hair testing in the crime labs.

One of the reasons why criminal investigations must be done so thoroughly is that the standard of proof to obtain a conviction is “beyond a reasonable doubt”. In some legal jurisdictions in the United States it is sometimes enough to introduce reasonable doubt by being able to construct an alternative theory of the crime pointing to another suspect. Elsewhere, the interpretation of that standard is very high hurdle for the prosecution to meet.

Notwithstanding that, since Truscott’s conviction, Canada abolished the death penalty years ago, simply because it was known that, despite all the money and effort expended by the state to meet the “beyond reasonable doubt” standard, mistakes are still made and innocent people are convicted.

Contrast that social norm or social expectation we demand from our system of criminal justice with the situation we find ourselves in after nearly 30 years of environmental climate change advocacy.

Here is the mandate of the International Panel on Climate Change (“IPCC”) taken directly from its website:

The role of the IPCC is to assess on a comprehensive, objective, open and transparent basis the scientific, technical and socio-economic information relevant to understanding the scientific basis of risk of human-induced climate change, its potential impacts and options for adaptation and mitigation.

Note that it does not say “understanding climate change”. It says specifically “human-induced climate change”. In other words, the husband, Mr. Smith, was already pre-determined to be the perpetrator of the climate crime and that fact has been communicated to the science labs around the globe. Is it any wonder that they produce results that fit the pre-ordained conclusions and dismiss any exculpatory evidence or evidence pointing to another culprit?

This has been the underlying bias of the global climate change industry since the first international climate change conference in 1979, which led directly to the formation of the IPCC. Is it any wonder, that having climbed out on a limb to claim that humans induce climate change the authorities running this show have dug in their heels and stubbornly defended their turf despite a growing chorus of dissent?

The basis of science is scepticism, not consensus. Scientists look at data and formulate a hypothesis about the implications of the data. They publish the hypothesis in scientific journals or other credible publications. By doing so they invite other scientists to examine and test the hypothesis and prove them wrong or inadequate. If repeated challenges tend to support the hypothesis then it gravitates to the level of a theory, which means it becomes the conventional scientific wisdom on that subject. But that does not elevate it to the status of truth. All theories are only tentative. With advancing knowledge they can be disproved at any time.

The problem with climate science is that it has been taken over by environmental activists who don’t want alternative hypotheses raised or examined.

When advancing knowledge is ignored or deliberately sidelined because of ideological forces, then science is no longer science. The scientific community has failed to protect its integrity by forgetting its basic principles. And we will all pay a price for that.

Monday, February 5, 2007

Now for something completely different

Here is a refreshing site. This is a greeny organization whose executive director, Lawrence Solomon, has written a series of articles profiling global warming dissenters (I prefer that term to Al Gore's "deniers" -- it sounds more democratic). Some of these dissenters are actually scientists who were asked to be part of the IPCC process, and who have distanced themselves from it.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

I may not like what you watch but I will defend your right to watch it

A guy named Andy Selepak has written one of those censorship columns in CFP that I find odd. He entitled it Charlie Sheen's Toxic Humour on CBS.

His complaint is that a situation comedy called Two and a half men is obscene or at least morally depraved. He wants his readers to petition the FCC about it. He watched an episode in which the characters, one of whom is played by Charlie Sheen, joked about kinky sex things they did when they were younger. Selepak says he turned the show off before it ended, in disgust. Aside from rambling on in an ad hominem segue about what a moral degenerate Sheen is in his personal life, and linking him to his brother and father, who champion leftist causes that annoy Selepak, his other appeal was to "think of the children".

So Selepak doesn't like jokes about kinky sex on TV.

So why did Selepak watch this thing in the first place? Why was Selepak rendered incapable of hitting the next channel button on his remote button when he first recognized he was in a moral place not to his liking, or simply turning off the TV? Why do his children stay up after 9:00 p.m. when the raunchier fare is offered on the tube? Why does he ignore pre-program warnings about content? Why does he not first read reviews of television shows before turning them on? Why does he not have parental controls programmed into his TV to prevent children (and perhaps himself) from being exposed to something he does not like? In short, why does he pretend he is some helpless victim of immoral CBS comedy shows?

We will never know because he never considered and addressed any of these questions in his greater quest to tell the FCC what you should not be allowed to watch.

Just for the record: I turned this show on once a year or so ago, watched it for about 15 minutes, and didn't find it so much crude as simply lame comedy -- no entertainment value. I have never watched it since.

But I will defend your right to watch it.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Israel and Genocide

חדשות NRG - A Homemade Genocide: "There are those that claim that Arab and Muslim states are immune from criticism, because they are not democratic, but Israel is more worthy of criticism because it has democratic pretences. Claims like this are Orientalism at its worst. The covert assumption is that the Arabs and the Muslims are the retarded child of the world. They are allowed. It is not only Orientalism. It is racism.

The Arabs and the Muslims are not children and they are not retarded. Many Arabs and Muslims know this and write about it. They know that only an end to the self-deception and a taking of responsibility will lead to change. They know that as long as the west treats them as unequal and irresponsible it is lending a hand not only to a racist attitude, but also, and mainly, to a continuation of their mass murder.

The genocide that Israel is not committing, that is completely libelous, hides the real genocide, the silenced genocide that Arabs and Muslims are committing mainly against themselves. The libel has to stop so as to look at reality. It is in the interest of the Arabs and the Muslims. Israel pays in image. They pay in blood. If there is any morality left in the world, this should be in the interest of whoever has a remaining drop of it in him. And should it happen, it will be small news for Israel, and great news, far greater news, for Arabs and Muslims."

This is the epilogue from a long piece by an Israeli journalist, Ben Dror Yemini, published on the Internet at this website.

It expresses a viewpoint that I have held for some time: the liberal-leftists who condemn Israel and praise the Palestinians, who condemn the Americans but ignore the Arab responsibility in the Muslim versus Muslim civil war raging in Iraq, think the Arabs and Muslims are childlike. I believe that they do not understand that such a view of Muslims and Arabs is racist.

With respect to the rest of Mr. Yemini's article, he has assembled, from a number of public sources, a catalogue of war deaths in the past 60 years. He invites us to compare the record over the same period of time, particularly the Muslim record and that of European powers, with Israel's, and asks us why Israel should be saddled with accusations of genocide when one looks at the "proportionate" picture. Leftist-liberals love that word proportion -- if only they would actually undertake the exercise instead of predertiming the outcome.

I will give you a summary of his statistics, but first a word about them. He gives ranges because obviously it is very difficult to determine exact numbers of deaths under war condition and the public sources differ (for a recent example, the U.N. now claims 36,000 Iraqis died last year as a result of the civil war, but the government of Iraq only claims 22,000). I have used the higher end of the scale because I believe there are always more victims of war than the official counts.

Israel: over its 60 years of life, the state has fought several wars with neighbours and suffered two insurgencies called Intafadas. The total number of Muslims killed by Israelis in this period is 60,000.

Algeria: France killed around 1,000,000 Muslims. Muslims killing other Muslims since independence amounts to another 100,000.

Sudan: Muslims have killed about 3,000,000 other Muslims, Christians and animists. The killing continues unabated.

Afghanistan: Russians killed 1,500,000 Muslims, and civil wars (Muslims versus Muslims) since have claimed another 1,000,000. The war continues.

Somalia: Muslims have killed 500,000 other Muslims. The war continues.

Bangladesh: Muslims from Pakistan killed 2,000,000 Muslims in this country.

Indonesia: Muslims killed 400,000 alleged communists and another 200,000 East Timorese.

Iraq: During Saddam's reign, including the war with Iran and Kuwait, 2,000,000 Iraqis died, and nearly 1,000,000 Iranians died. After Saddam about 200,000 Iraqis have died, including around 40,000 resulting from the American led invasion. The Muslim versus muslim killing continues as an ever increasing pace.

Lebanon: 130,000 people died in two civil wars between Muslims and Christians, including 18,000 killed by Israelis.

Yemen: Muslims killed muslims to the tune of 150,000 during civil wars and thousands have since died in riots.

Jordan: Former King Hussein killed 25,000 Palestinians.

Chad: With a population 50% Muslim, so far 30,000 have died in civil war.

Kosovo: 10,000 Muslims killed in ethnic cleansing.

Tajikistan: Civil war claimed 50,000.

Syria: Hafez Assad killed 20,000 Muslims in one city.

Iran: Thousands died in the revolution, about 10,000 of whom were Kurds.

Turkey: 20,000 Kurds killed.

Uganda: Idi Amin claimed to be Muslim and 300,000 Ugandans died.

So the next time you hear somebody going on about how Israel is the most dangerous nation and engages in genocide, or you see, hear or read one of those Muslim happy face stories (i.e., Islam is a religion of love and peace, the Koran forbids Muslims to kill each other, etc.) keep these stats in mind and do the "proportional math."

Friday, January 12, 2007

Canadian ambivalence to Afghanistan mission

Now here is a possible explanation for the ambivalence Canadians feel about the military mission in Afghanistan.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

The more things change, the more they stay the same

A number of people have been comparing President George W. Bush to Abraham Lincoln. On the Daily Show last night, news clips showed pundits referring to George Bush's changing of generals to deal with Iraq in the same light as Lincoln firing generals until he got one that could win the Civil War.

On that basis, I think a closer comparison could be made between Bush and Adolph Hitler. I hasten to add that I am not about to launch into one of those "evil men" comparisons because I do not consider Bush an evil man. Indeed, I am not yet convinced there is such a thing as evil, but that is the subject for a future posting.

My comparison starts with the fact that both Bush and Hitler were (I'll use the past tense here to describe both simply to shorten the number of words) the "commanders in chief" of their respective militaries, both had very limited military experience (and not in senior ranks), both were politicians,and both ignored the advice of their existing and most knowledgeable generals and favoured those who echoed their own thoughts. Hitler lost the war in Europe and Bush lost the peace in Iraq.

The new strategy will bear no better results than the old.

Saturday, January 6, 2007

Is Canada Ready?

If you would like a little relief from the Al Gore version of what global warming means, take a look at a site called "Is Canada Ready". There are some nifty charts and graphics and the cyclical theory of ice ages is simply explained here.

Friday, January 5, 2007

Salute to The Onion

One of the best places for satire on the Internet is The Onion, at this website Its current offering (January 5) is a round up of George Bush stories in 2006. One of the funniest ones, in my opinion, is this one:

Voice Of God Revealed To Be Cheney On Intercom

WASHINGTON, DC—Telephone logs recorded by the National Security Agency and obtained by Congress as part of an ongoing investigation suggest that the vice president may have used the Oval Office intercom system to address President Bush at crucial moments, giving categorical directives in a voice the president believed to be that of God.

While journalists and presidential historians had long noted Bush's deep faith and Cheney's powerful influence in the White House, few had drawn a direct correlation between the two until Tuesday, when transcripts of meetings that took place in March and April of 2002 became available.

In a transcript of an intercom exchange recorded in March 2002, a voice positively identified as the vice president's identifies himself as "the Lord thy God" and promotes the invasion of Iraq, as well as the use of torture in prisoner interrogations.

A close examination of Bush's public statements and Secret Service time logs tracking the vice president reveals a consistent pattern, one which links Bush's belief that he had received word from God with Cheney's use of the White House's telephone-based intercom system.

Officials privately acknowledged that there is reason to believe that the vice president, as God, urged Bush to sign legislation benefiting oil companies in 2005.

"There's a lot of religious zeal in the West Wing," said a former White House staffer who spoke on the condition of anonymity. "It's possible that the vice president has taken advantage of that to fast-track certain administration objectives."

An ex-Treasury Department official and longtime friend of Cheney was asked to comment on the vice president's possible subterfuge. "I don't know. I certainly don't think it's something [Cheney] planned," he said. "I do know that Mr. Bush was unfamiliar with a phone-based intercom, and I suppose it is possible that Dick took advantage of that."

A highly placed NSA official who has reviewed the information released Tuesday said Cheney masked his clipped monotone, employing a deeper, booming voice.

Said the NSA source: "It sounded as though the speaker, who identified himself as God, stood away from the intercom to create an echo effect."

On Capitol Hill, sources are expressing surprise that Cheney, a vice president with more influence than any other in U.S. history, would have resorted to such deception.

"The vice president has a lot of sway in this administration," said a former White House aide. "But perhaps when President Bush was particularly resolute and resistant to mortal persuasion, the vice president chose to quickly resolve disputes in his favor with a half-decent God impression."

For many, the revelation explains Bush's confusion in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.

"I was very surprised by the president's slow response in New Orleans," political commentator Bill Kristol said. "The president told me that he was praying every day in his office, but had received no reply. I had no idea what he meant, but of course, it all makes sense now."

At the time of Katrina, Cheney was on a fly-fishing trip, from which he returned on Sept. 1.

According to highly placed White House sources, Bush's senior advisers are trying to shield the president from the news. Aides are concerned that too harsh an awakening might shake Bush's faith, which has been a central part of his life for nearly 20 years.

"It's hard to tell the leader of the free world that he has been the butt of an elaborate and long-term ruse," a former staffer said. "Maybe it would be easier to take if it came from Cheney's God voice."

« The Onion | December 7, 2005

Thursday, January 4, 2007

Hussein and the utopians and realists

There two kinds of people. There are utopians who envision the world they would like to see and there are realists who take the world as they find it. There are far fewer utopians than realists, but both have their place. Without utopians there would little initiative to change for the better. Without realists we would have no benchmark by which to judge the wishes and advice of the utopians.

The flaw in utopians is that they often overreach and assume that lofty goals can quickly be reached. They dismiss history and human nature as irrelevancies. They assume that, if properly articulated, their “reasonable” proposals for change will be instantly recognized as right. They overlook the impact of small “p” politics (whose ox will be gored by these ideas) and the overpowering effect emotion can have on reason.

The flaw in realists is that they can be too conservative and try to avoid change. Indeed, most experts who have studied the subject will tell you that avoidance of change is a very natural human characteristic.

So where is this leading?

There are some utopians who decry the trial and execution of Saddam Hussein for a number of reasons.

Hussein as a future witness

They believe that if Hussein had been kept alive he would have been a valuable witness in some as yet speculative future prosecution against unknown Americans and Brits, and possibly against Bush and Blair.

Realists will tell you that, while it is possible that these two may face some civil lawsuits when they step out of office, it is most unlikely that there will some international endorsed reckoning in the criminal sense for these leaders. The world power structure hasn’t changed that much. Remember that these same utopians are the ones who are claiming that the international bodies are being usurped or emasculated by the Bushes and the Blairs. Their successors are not going change that equation,

Hussein didn’t get a fair trial

Secondly, they say Hussein did not get a fair trial. It is important to distinguish between substance and procedure. In criminal prosecutions, procedure trumps all. No matter how strong the evidence is against a criminal, if the procedure is screwed up then our system (North American) might well put that person back on the street to offend again. This often leads to a hue and cry from people saying justice was not served because of a legal technicality. What this tells us is that the public’s perception of justice is different from that of lawyers and judges. Justice requires appropriate punishment for wrongdoers. The justice administered by the legal system only metes out punishment when the system is first followed scrupulously.

Realists will tell you that this justice system works within the accepted boundaries of a liberal democracy, administered by a national government. It also works fairly well for dealing with society’s nobodies. Different considerations come into play when the person in the prisoner’s dock is a head of state, when the country in question does not have our legal traditions, and when the conditions of war are applied, particularly where the head of state has been captured by enemy occupiers who are trying to pacify the country. Such niceties as “Miranda” warnings in the United States, Habeas Corpus in Canada, and “preservation of the chain of evidence”, as examples of our procedural requirements, may not be available or applicable in the circumstances I just outlined. There may be others.

Many of the commentators on the fairness of Hussein’s trial say that, although it fell short of certain standards of procedure, on balance, the outcome was justified by the quality and the weight of the evidence against him. They did not feel there was such an egregious breach of trial procedure that his conviction would be unsupportable. In short, public justice was served.

Here is an extract from a legal scholar’s review of the written judgment of the Iraqi Court of Appeal:

Observations on the Dujail Trial Opinion

The Tribunal’s findings of fact are extremely detailed. The Opinion explains why the testimony of certain witnesses was believed and why others were not. It indicates that hearsay testimony was not given much weight; nor was Saddam’s various admissions. The Opinion describes each piece of documentary evidence, and details the steps undertaken to authenticate the signatures of Saddam Hussein and the other defendants on these documents. And it explains that all of the documents considered by the Tribunal were given to the Defense 45 days before the start of the trial. Reading the Dujail Opinion, one can only conclude that Saddam and the other defendants were convicted on the strength of their own records, much like the Nazis were at Nuremberg.

The Tribunal’s legal analysis explains the theory of criminal responsibility applicable to each defendant and fully examines each of the defendant’s possible legal defenses. From the point of view of establishing a noteworthy legal precedent, two points stand out in the Dujail Opinion.

First, Saddam’s main defense was that as a leader, he was entitled to take action against a town that had tried to assassinate him and was populated by insurgents and terrorists allied with Iran at a time when Iraq and Iran were at war. The Opinion details why the actions taken against the town of Dujail and its inhabitants “was not necessary to stop an immediate and imminent danger” and how the actions were disproportionate to the threat. In this way, the Opinion makes clear that there is a line to be drawn in every country’s fight against terrorism, and that Saddam and the other defendants crossed that line.

For the full analysis and other detailed information, go to this website

Hussein’s trial was manipulated by the Americans

This isn’t so much a utopian thing as it is an anti-American expression. In fact, it is pretty easy to argue that, far from being able to manipulate anything in Iraq, including this trial, the Americans have totally lost control. There is a civil war being waged by Iraqis and it is neither one the Americans want nor one they can stop. It is not in America’s interest to see this continue.

Some people maintain that the U.S. imposed America’s criminal procedure on Iraq. They must not have read the May, 2005 Amnesty International brief on this subject. Here is an extract:

National law which applied prior to the fall of Saddam Hussein’s government remains in force today, unless amended by new legislation. Article 17 of the Tribunal Statute states that subject to the provisions of Statute and the Rules:
"the general principles of criminal law applicable in connection with the prosecution and trial of any accused person shall be those contained:
i) in Iraqi criminal law as at July 17, 1968 (as embodied in The Baghdadi Criminal Code of 1919) for those offenses committed between July 17, 1968 and December 14, 1969;
ii) in Law Number 111 of 1969 (the Iraqi Criminal Code), as it was as of December 15, 1969, without regard to any amendments made thereafter, for those offenses committed between December 15, 1969 and May 1, 2003; and
iii) and in Law Number 23 of 1971 (the Iraqi Criminal Procedure Law)."

AI was complaining that the Iraqi legal code would be utilized in Hussein’s trial and AI believed it was not up to snuff by International standards. Amnesty International is one of the favourite organizations of utopians.

What the Americans did do was give the Iraqis training in legal and judicial procedure. What the Iraqis judges then did was to follow their own practices and ignore the American advice. See the November 6, 2006 in the New York Times, by Judith Preston.

Hussein should have been tried in the International Court

Along with the United Nations the AI is another favourite organization of utopians. And it has shown itself to be the equal of the UN in its ineptitude in the one real case it tried against another murdering head of state, Slobodan Milosevec.
Why utopians think that this judicial body is somehow better able to deal out justice than an Iraqi court escapes me. Surely, common notions of justice suggest that a criminal should be tried by his or her peers when the crimes have been committed within the jurisdiction of the parties, when that country shows a willingness to conduct a trial (unlike Serbia). Hussein was an Iraqi. He murdered Iraqis. He was being tried in an Iraqi court, prosecuted and defended by Iraqi lawyers, and judged by Iraqi judges. The Iraqi people should have some right to bring one of their own to justice.

The real reason utopians want to have the IC take over is because they want to see the western international community put on trial. They want George Bush and Tony Blair dragged into court to explain themselves (preferably to be charged and tried themselves). This would be the real “show trial” and kangaroo court. In such a circus, Hussein would be a sideshow and justice for Iraqis harmed by him would be a forgotten issue.

There is an old saying in law, “justice delayed is justice denied.” In Ontario, a few years ago, the backlogs in the courts was so bad, the judges began to throw cases out of court that were more than two years old, no matter how serious the charges nor how meritorious the case was against the accused.
I doubt any of Milosevec’s victims felt that justice was done when his trial dragged on for 4 years, with no end in sight, and fizzled out when he died in jail, never having reached a verdict. And one the reasons it crawled on forever was because prosecutors were trying to prove every single criminal accusation made against the defendant in his entire career as a dictator. The Iraqis wisely brought only a couple of easily proved charges against Hussein.

Wednesday, January 3, 2007

A Niagara of outrage over one Iraqi

Read the front pages of newspapers and the editorial pages and there is an enormousf outpouring about the death of one Iraqi; namely, Saddam Hussein. According to many, his execution was engineered as part of a conspiracy to prevent him from ever testifying at a future trial that would incriminate members of the American government in his crimes. For some his trial was nothing more than a "kangaroo court." For others, it was the death penalty that brought out the angst. One blogger said Hussein was "murdered." Even one right wing newspaper huffed and puffed about the "circus" surrounding his hanging -- he was apparently entitled to dignity in dying.

Murder is the taking of an innocent life without lawful cause.

When O.J Simpson was acquitted of the charge of murdering his wife and her friend, almost nobody believed that outcome. But the case against Simpson was always based on circumstantial evidence. Not so with the evidence incriminating Hussein. Do any of these people shouting injustice really believe that if trial circumstances were different Hussein had a better than even chance of walking away from it as an "innocent" man? There was no innocence about this guy, the evidence against him was virtually insurmountable.

Now look deeper into your newspapers for another article on deaths in Iraq. What's that? You can't find it? Let me help you out. The Iraqi government reported today that 13,896 "other Iraqis" were murdered in 2006. According to the United Nations, the figure for the year, just to the end of October, 2006, is actually 26,782. Hundreds of bodies show up in all parts of Baghdad, blindfolded, handcuffed, and mutilitated before death. These killings are the work of Iraqis of one Islamic branch battling the Iraqis of another branch of Islam.

If you are going to spend your emotional capital on murders in Iraq, this is what you should be outraged about. Nobody in the western world pays attention to these murders because Americans aren't directly responsible for them. These ordinary Iraqis truly are the innocents and don't deserve such a fate. Where was the dignity in their deaths?

Don't waste your time mourning the likes of Saddam Hussein.