Published 3 October 2014
America , Canada , Politics & Policy
Tags: air war, America, Canada, Canadian Forces, Colin Powell, ebola, epidemic, foreign policy, humanitarian, Iraq, ISIL, ISIS, Middle East, Pottery Barn, Pottery Barn rule, Stephen Harper, Syria, US
The Prime Minister and Conservative Party are beating the war drums in Ottawa today, offering a motion on the floor of Parliament to have Canada supply warplanes in support of the US mission against ISIS. A vote on the resolution will pass sometime next week, enjoying the support of a broad majority of Canadians. It will commit more than 600 Canadian Forces, six CF-18 fighter-bombers, two CP-140 surveillance planes, one aerial tanker aircraft to a six-month “limited mission” of air combat. The cost of this war has not been estimated; but Canada’s seven-month air war in Libya, which involved similar force and equipment commitments (650 personnel and 7 fighter jets at the mission’s peak) cost Canada $347 million.
ISIS is hardly the only source of bad, scary news these days. The ebola epidemic is on-pace to kill more people than ISIS ever could and has the likelihood of a much broader global calamity. By all accounts, the international response has been way too small and way to slow. Canada’s contribution to “humanitarian and security interventions” addressing the ebola outbreak total a mere $5 million, although Canada pledged last week to spend up to an additional $30 million. The United Nations and World Health Organization have estimated that it will cost nearly $1 billion over the next six months to fight the spread of the epidemic.
Here’s an idea for Canada: take all the economic and military resources we are so ready to spend in Iraq and Syria and deploy them against the ebola catastrophe. Canada could exercise real leadership in this fight, thereby re-establishing its moral credibility on the global stage and demonstrating that it chooses its international engagements thoughtfully. Continue reading ‘Picking the Right Fight’
Published 29 March 2011
India , Politics & Policy , Religion, Spiritualism & Other Make-Believe
Tags: Andrew Roberts, biography, Gandhi, Gandhian, Gandhianism, Great Soul, hagiography, historical bias, historiography, history, Joseph Lelyveld, Lelyveld, Mahatma, Nirmala Deshpande, Peter Hees, reverence, The Lives of Sri Aurobindo, The Story of My Experiments with Truth, The Wall Street Journal
Neoconservative historian Andrew Roberts has written a thoroughly dickish profile of Mahatma Gandhi in the Wall Street Journal, entitled Among the Hagiographers. Under the thin guise of a review of Joseph Lelyveld’s new biography, Great Soul, Mr. Roberts unleashes an unprovoked, relentlessly cruel smear-piece on Gandhi-ji. The essay bristles with the sort of raw enmity one might expect from a man whose professional career has revolved around the lionization of Winston Churchill and who has unreservedly adopted the venomous loathings of the man he idolizes.
The facile way to read Mr. Roberts’s offensively negative presentation is as a smoking condemnation of Gandhi-ji: the father of satyagraha was a creep and a pervert. Indeed, the essay catalogs many of Gandhi-ji’s personal shortcomings and reversals of position; and Mr. Roberts’s project is to spin these into an unflattering portrait of hypocrisy, if not outright depravity. Roberts presents precisely the opposite portrait from that assembled in the usual, beatifying hagiography; and the true object of Roberts’s loathing may be as much the Gandhian canon as Gandhi-ji himself. But, in this detail, I see a shred of subtle value in Mr. Roberts’s malicious piece. It illustrates the absurdity and ruthlessness of a bizarrely one-dimensional mining of the historical record.
Continue reading ‘Doing History Wrong’
Published 7 January 2011
Environment , India , Politics & Policy , Service
Tags: corruption, garbage, Kivar, Kivar Environ, Pondicherry, Puducherry, Raj Bhavan, Shuddham, solid waste management, trash, waste, waste management
Shuddham, the remarkable volunteer-run NGO doing solid waste management in the heart of Pondicherry’s French Colonial district, has ceased operations, effective 1 January 2011. After eight years of going door-to-door, teaching households and businesses the importance of segregating waste streams into compostables and recyclables at the source – and slowly building compliance to an astonishing 80% among households – Shuddham has fallen victim to the incessant corruption of local officials and the negligence and callous indifference with which the government performs its obligations to the public.
Continue reading ‘The End of an Era in Cleanliness’
Published 27 October 2010
Art & Culture , Canada , Media , Politics & Policy
Tags: America, Angela Merkel, Bob Mackowycz, CBC, CBC Radio 2, Germany, Great Canadian Song Quest, Hawksley Workman, immigrant, immigration, Jully Black, multicultural, multiculturalism, Ontario, Polish, Radio 2, Roncesvalles, Roncesvalles Avenue, Roncies, Song Quest, Song Quest 2010, Toronto, US, USA
Among Canada’s most famous treasures is its endless array of ever-astonishing natural landscapes. So, when CBC Radio 2 launched its second annual Great Canadian Song Quest – in which popular musicians from the 13 provinces and territories were commissioned to compose songs commemorating listener-selected roadways in those places – it was a fair bet that the subjects would largely favor broad vistas and open highways. But in Ontario, where the first Song Quest yielded a brilliant homage to Algonquin National Park by Hawksley Workman (“They Left It Wild”), CBC listeners went in another direction. The stretch of road they chose to celebrate was a street in Toronto called Roncesvalles Avenue.
Roncesvalles Avenue is a “Main Street” slice of urban landscape from a time gone by, characterized by small business and handsome single-family dwellings. The neighborhood became home to the wave of Polish immigrants who settled in Toronto after World War II and, though it shows signs of insurgent trendiness, retains its Polish immigrant character. This Song Quest selection eschews the natural beauty of the province in favor of one of Canada’s other great themes: its ongoing experiment in multiculturalism.
Continue reading ‘The Road to Multiculturalism’
One of the favorite shibboleths about international sporting events like the Olympics and World Cup is that countries temporarily set aside politics and bygones to come together in the pure spirit of sport. This ideal never seems entirely to bear out. Admit it: geopolitical dynamics add to the drama of certain sporting events.
Today’s test case: is there anyone out there that doesn’t want to see Brazil put half-a-dozen goals past North Korea?
Brazil 2 – DPR Korea 1
Dear Leader will be so pleased. Dunga, less so. Sometimes things don’t work out the way we hope in football or geopolitics.
Published 5 April 2010
Blogs & Blogging , Friends Without Borders , India , Media , Politics & Policy , Service
Tags: aman ki asha, blogging, Friends Without Borders, friendship letters, Indo-Pak, Indo-Pak relations, Jang Group, Pakistan, Pakistan Defense, peace, Times of India
In its brief, brilliant two years of merrymaking, Friends Without Borders attracted attention far and wide. Our projects were covered in every significant newspaper in India and Pakistan, on every major television network, in the major news magazines, on radio, and of course on the web. But, as the project fades into the past, ripples in the media have been fewer and fewer. Sure, we were proud when the Times of India and the Jang Newspaper Group adopted our ideas to form their new Aman ki Asha project; but, as with most ideas lifted by the every-slimy TOI, this sincere form of flattery proceeded without attribution or notice.
But recently FWB received a bit of retrospective acclaim – and from a very unlikely source. To celebrate the 1000th post on the Pakistan Defense blog, which describes itself as the “Web’s Authoritative Source on Pakistani Security & Strategic Affairs”, the site cribbed photos and a bit of explanatory text about our “Love Letter” friendship project. Check it out.
And, after a brief celebration of peace, the blog resumed its bellicose themes. Crazy. But we’ll take it.
With its ruling yesterday in Citizens United v. Federal Elections Commission, the United States Supreme Court has announced the beginning of the end of America’s noble experiment with democracy. It was beautiful while it lasted.