Friday, February 07, 2003

Truth behind this war

I was planning to post something completely different today but after reading Shanti’s blog I had a lot to say and before I forget, I want to jot them down. I know most of you are sick and tired of my war posts, but hey its war time – so I might as well join the bombardment.

Ok let’s start off with Saddam. I agree in toto that he is a lunatic, maniac, et all to the power of ‘n’. He does what all Shanti states that he does and probably a bit more because we know there is not much media in there to broadcast those things. But that is precisely why we should take those allegations with a pinch of salt – because it is only the western media that has placed that information before us. I don’t mean to state that Saddam is innocent puppy but just the fact that to justify a war – the media might have stretched those allegations a bit far. Just like how Pakistan / India magnifies the human rights violations on either side of the Kashmir border – while keeping mum on what they themselves do.

But if Saddam deserves any shred of respect then it is because of this: he is the only person who has held entire Iraq together for the last couple of decades and prevented large scale ethnic bloodshed. Be it Kurds, Sunnis, Shias or other ethnic tribal people, none have dared to oppose him - and yes I agree because he is merciless. If we look at Iraq’s history, for 25 odd years after the fall of the Ottoman Empire there was constant bloodshed between the tribal people. Post its declaration of turning to a Republic in 1958, it has always been ruled by military powers and bear in mind that dictators prior to Saddam were not really angels. Its just that media is much more powerful today than it was in the sixties. The irony is that, the peace between ethnic tribals is at the cost of living under Saddam.

When America attacked Afghanistan on Oct 9th 2001, it had only one objective: to get rid of Taliban. They never, and I mean never, did give a second thought about what would happen after they had routed the Taliban force. They had assumed that Northern Alliance would come back to power and all would be well with an American puppet regime in place. Did that happen? No! Far from that – what we see today is a puppet President who 90% of the Afghanistan people had never heard of until he came to power – and whose dictat doesn’t carry much weight beyond the downtown in Kabul.

Last night the general public interviewed Tony Blair. One member of the audience asked him – what would happen after Saddam was disposed off. After several moments of silence he pleaded his inability to give a precise answer. He was asked did more people die during the war in Afghanistan or after the war (due to ethnic conflicts), the PM admitted that they were finding it hard to contain ethnic clashes. He was asked how many Iraqi people were arrested over the last one year on charges of terrorism – the answer was ‘none’. He was asked why there wasn’t any action when his own British people were murdered, raped and looted in Zimbabwe by another tyrant dictator – the answer was a disturbing silence. Many more were asked but the bottom line is these ‘so called leaders’ themselves have no clue what will the war eventually lead them to. I totally agree that Iraqi people (and likewise Burmese, Tibetians, people of Zimbabwe, and many more) need to be liberated but war is not the answer. If American’s have so much tracking technology – why can’t they keep an eye Saddam’s palaces and bomb it with cruise missiles when he is in there? Why carpet-bomb the Iraqi people?

Coming to Bush. There is a fine book about Mr George Bush Jr called “George and Laura” and it is a recommended read if you want to find out more about the person we tend to call Dubya. It details out how he became a President – especially when his own father was loathe to introduce him to any diplomats when he was the president. Bush is not as innocent as American people would like to believe. This is the problem with polarised media – they never get to see the non-polarised view. In my opinion the best way to judge a man is not by talking to his nearest friends but through his bitter enemies. That way you know what you shouldn’t know – and you will be a better judge of character. Maybe Bush is not a ruthless dictator who gorges peoples eyes out because of calling him moron – but then again, it’s the American democracy that gives its people that freedom and not Bush himself. If people need to be proud of America – it’s their democracy first, then it’s people and lastly its malfunctioning administration.

That America is interested in Iraqi oil is not a hidden truth. The same reason why UK has teamed up with US; the same reason why China, Russia, France and Germany are opposing the war. They all have their vested interests. Its also the major reason why America is willing to talk to N.Korea whilst it doles out a different set of arguments for Iraq. Trust me – N.Korean people are not living in a paradise either. What I personally oppose is these double standards. And hey – I could write a book on American double standards when it comes to international diplomacy. And regards this “all about oil” thing – call this prophecy - but watch all those countries which oppose America now fall in line by the time the war starts. America knows how to lure people with good lucrative contracts – as they plan a systematic rape of Iraqi wealth. Oh yes, there will be wonderful statistics about how Iraqi children go to school and how women work blah blah blah, but what Iraqi people benefit (after being massacred by American bombs) is probably 1% of what America and its partners will eventually take out of that country. Yesterday Colin Powell announced that “a success in Iraq could fundamentally reshape that region in a powerful positive way that will enhance US interests...”

And how will that reshape take place? Turkey will take 80km of Northern Iraq for supporting the war because it has had a long dispute (since the end of the Ottoman Empire) with regard to the oil fields there. The Kurds are being promised autonomy though not complete independence because Turks are against it to prevent domestic upheaval. The Sunni minority are going to be promised their own homeland bordering Iran while Shias retain of what is left of Iraq. All this is for the short term because there are already sounds of Iran being next. After all Colin Powell’s ‘reshaping the region’ is not limited to just Iraq.

Phew! I could go on and on and on. But I will stop here. Maybe another day another time – when I feel really frustrated I will continue :-p

Thursday, February 06, 2003

Interesting dreams

Now I am the type of person who dreams on a daily basis - or nightly basis if you like (mind you, I do day dream a lot) but I am not the type who will remember the dreams in the morning. Last night was an exception - more so because I woke up because of my dream.

To be honest I dreamt twice last night - maybe more but I recall only two of them. The first one was about Tintin and me. Yeah - Tintin as in the comics’ fellow. The scene was taken straight out of his Black Island adventures. Its when he is running away from Thompson and Thomson after he is accused of mugging the passenger in the train. He is running on the street and ends up bumping into me and we both end up hiding in an alley. Whilst hiding, I go to the end of that alley and take a peek behind the wall. And there a Chinese man is making love to a Chinese woman. I point that activity to Tintin and that is where my dream ended. Or rather I woke up.

Now comes the interesting part. I went back to sleep because it was still a while away for daybreak. Towards early morning I dreamt something funny. This scene was taken directly out of the movie "The Great Escape". I have seen this WW2 movie probably a dozen times. In that movie the prisoners escape from the prison camp (obviously) and the German Gestapo are fast on their heels. Out of 76 that escape the prison only 3 finally make it. Most of them are then brought back to the camp. The leader of the escape plan, Sgt Bartlett is brought in front of the Gestapo chief and his subordinate.

In my dream I am also standing in front of the Gestapo having been caught and we two, i.e, Bartlett and I are being interviewed by the subordinate. Suddenly the whole argument blows up and I end up squealing that the chief of the Gestapo helped us escape in return for Swiss gold. The old chief is sweating and realises that the game is up and he takes out his pistol to shoot himself. He puts the gun beneath his jaw with the barrel pointing towards the brain. By the time the subordinate runs to stop it the shot goes off. We hear a loud bang, which is immediately followed by a *ping* sound.

The old man staggers a bit and doesn’t collapse on the floor as expected. Instead he puts his hand inside his mouth and takes out a gold tooth. The bullet penetrated the jaw and got stuck when it hit the gold tooth. I ended up laughing so much in my dream that I actually woke up laughing. This is one dream that I won't forget for a long time. :-)

Wednesday, February 05, 2003

Gulf war and the stock markets

When Iraq invaded Kuwait, the markets were shattered - and I mean the stock markets. The reason was that it was an unexpected move by Iraq and it took most market players by surprise. In the days that followed the nervousness, the uncertainty and the concerns on the economic impact literally forced the market makers to squeeze out any juice left in the stock markets. But cruelly and ironically - wars are good; at least for the stock markets and for all the investors. Ok not all the investors but investors who know exactly when to get in.

During the first few days after Saddam took over Kuwait, there was no knee jerk reaction from the markets. That was reasonably expected because no one knew what the world's reaction was going to be (Bush had denounced the Kuwaiti takeover but he had also said that America would NOT get involved militarily). But it was the UK that convinced America to act on this grave matter in the interests of their Saudi friends - who felt intimidated by Saddam's neighbourly presence. The next week Dow Jones (DJI) fell by 5.2% by 2864 to 2716.

In the weeks that followed the DJI would collapse (between occasional hiccups) by almost 1.5% a week. And by Oct 11, the Dow had reached 2365 - a staggering 17.5% drop from the August 1 levels. To this day the DJI has not gone below this point. The markets stabilised around the 2400 levels because most analysts had taken the economic impact into the share prices and knew what was going to happen. The only uncertainty was whether America would win easily or would it be a dragged out war like Vietnam.

What followed was a steady rise in the index. As more and more countries condemned Saddam and backed US, the index gained a few percentage points on a regular basis. And when the war finally began the markets had literally recovered to the levels before the Saddam's invasion of Kuwait. What pleased the markets was that it was a "100 hour war". Though the war was officially declared over on Feb 28th (the day Saddam accepted the terms of ceasefire), the true momentum of the markets were felt up to March 5th when the Dow reached the 3000 barrier - a 27% increase from the lows it had seen in mid-October.

Will it be the same this time? Can crafty investors make a killing this time round as well? I shall write about it in another post.

Tuesday, February 04, 2003

War criminals

Article 6 of the "Constitution of the International Military Tribunal" charts out three different types of international crimes:

Crimes against peace:
(i) Planning, preparation, initiation or waging of a war of aggression or a war in violation of international treaties, agreements or assurances;
(ii) Participation in a common plan or conspiracy for the accomplishment of any of the acts mentioned under (i).

War crimes:
Violations of the laws or customs of war which include, but are not limited to, murder, ill-treatment or deportation to slave-labor or for any other purpose of civilian population of or in occupied territory, murder or illtreatment of prisoners of war, of persons on the seas, killing of hostages, plunder of public or private property, wanton destruction of cities, towns, or villages, or devastation not justified by military necessity.

Crimes against humanity:
Murder, extermination, enslavement, deportation and other inhuman acts done against any civilian population, or persecutions on political, racial or religious grounds, when such acts are done or such persecutions are carried on in execution of or in connection with any crime against peace or any war crim


Now is there any reason why the American President(s) George Bush and his trusted ally Tony Blair should not tried for war crimes? Fair enough the junior Bush has not yet begun his war but when (and I pray when) will the toothless United Nations step in between Iraq and US/UK and tell them that should they go ahead with a war without the UN Council's approval they will be held as war criminals?

Recent reports in the media suggest that US intends to launch a blitzkrieg of cruise missles during the first few days of the war. Part B of what I have stated above mentions that "...wanton destruction of cities, towns, or villages, or devastation not justified by military necessity." as war crimes. Likewise part C states "...other inhuman acts done against any civilian population, or persecutions on political, racial or religious grounds, when such acts are done or such persecutions are carried on in execution of or in connection with any crime against peace or any war crime", as a crime against humanity.

When this charter was signed on Aug 8th, 1945, the idea behind it was to try and prosecute every single person if he/she were guilty of war crimes. The purpose of it was to take away the diplomatic veil that had protected the rich and mighty and who believed that they could get away no matter how bloody their hands were. Sadly, this charter doesn't seem to have any strength now. What happened to all the human rights activists who go to Int'l Court of Justice at the drop of a hat? Day in and day out they publish 1000 page reports on the human rights abuses in Zimbabwe, Kenya, India, Pakistan, Malaysia etc... but they are blind to what their own leaders do in different parts of the world? Maybe taking such matters to seek justice is not as "lucrative" as some other cases might be.

I'm gonna write these same questions to American govt and see if they have the courtesy to respond.

Monday, February 03, 2003

Does advertising pay?

The daily routine: I go to bed wearing an advertised nightdress and plop my head on the advertised pillow. I wrap myself in advertised sheets and advertised quilts and eventually drift towards sleep. I wake up in the morning when my advertised alarm clock beeps. I put on the advertised sandals and head towards the bathroom. I pick up the advertised toothbrush and apply advertised toothpaste and later wash my face. I get in the bathtub and take my bath while not forgetting to apply the advertised soap.

I go back to my bedroom and finish my prayers. Then I wear my advertised clothes, brush my hair using an advertised comb and put on some advertised cream. I switch on the TV to listen to more advertisements while I walk into my kitchen. I pour some advertised cereals in an advertised bowl and on top of it some advertised cold milk. I cut slices of advertised banana to add some taste. Finally I leave for work by putting on advertised socks and advertised shoes and a advertised leather jacket.

I hit my desk and put some calls through my advertised telephone. And through out the day I use advertised objects from pins to files before I head back home and have some advertised dinner. Finally I sandwich myself again between the advertised bed and sheets.

“Why don't you advertise?” - asked the publisher of the newspaper.
“Why should I - advertising doesn't pay. It just drains me of my capital, which I could use for better purposes.”
Of course, all is not lost for the publisher. He does get one advertisement: "Family run business - up for sale. Interested parties please contact box #12345."
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