Friday, September 29, 2006
The trial of Saddam is the trial of his tribe and the people who are still loyal to him. He seems to be still having influence on the mind of many, especially those who enjoyed affluence in his era. Saddam seems to have a double set of defendants. There is the defence that represents him at court as there is the secret defence that carries the killing of judges and their relatives in his support.
Even at the end of his trial and in the case of subsequent execution, Saddam will continue to exercise influence from his grave. Saddam can disappear from public view when the trial finally ends. He can totally disappear from people's mind as a force when Iraq returns to full stability instead of remaining under the mercy of mutual and collective recrimination.
Suspending the trial of Saddam also means suspending the trial of those that were closely associated with him like Tariq Aziz and others. This can make a mockery of the justice system in Iraq in that justice is carried out of political consideration and not for its own sake. This will also open the gate for the demand to acquit and compensate those that have been imprisoned and tried because of their former association with Saddam's regime.
Space is considered in the USA and some other countries as the new frontiers. But space tourist travel is still very rare. There are now just three people. The latest is the Iranian first female paying space tourist, Anousheh Ansari. While it is impossible for many people to spend a holiday outside their countries or to travel by plane because of the high cost, there are rich people ready to spend in a single flight what forty thousand people spend in a year, considering their average income of $500 each if the flight cost amounts to US $20 million.
Space exploration itself is seen by many as a waste of money if it goes beyond the objective of improving the life of impoverished people on earth. More plans should be made to make Earth prosperous for ordinary people and not just to fill libraries with astonishing studies about the mystery of the universe while illiteracy is still plaguing the third world.
For Anousheh Ansari she deserves all praises. Her success in the flight can be another example to the frontiers women can cross to prove their unlimited abilities. But this shouldn’t distract us from the fact that the budget for space should be for necessity and not for extravagance.
Thursday, September 28, 2006
In some Middle Eastern countries like Yemen and Lebanon the possession of guns is commonplace. In Lebanon common possession was the result of the civil war that pushed each section of the Lebanese society to have enough arms as a way to impose its will.
In Iraq, former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein armed populations loyal to him to defend themselves against invaders.
In Yemen possessing a dagger and a gun is a sign of manhood. It is estimated that in this country there are more than five million guns among the Yemeni populations. Some tribes take advantage of these guns to kidnap tourists to force the central government to carry development projects in their region. But considering the number of guns in relation to Yemeni population numbering 20 million people, gun linked murder is rare in Yemen compared to the USA where it is estimated that there is the possession of 200 million guns.
The gun isn’t dangerous by itself. It is as dangerous as it is made to be. The gun doesn’t trigger itself and chooses its targets. It is its possessor or manipulator who makes it kill. So legislation banning or allowing gun possession has to go in line with the fabric of societies. A killer is a killer. If he needs a gun or any murderous weapon he will get it.
Wednesday, September 27, 2006
Iraq is viewed by extremist Islamists as the first step for wide range and direct involvement of the US in Muslim countries, dictating to them under the threat of sanction the government style they should have. Iraq remains a battleground against the US as Afghanistan was a training ground for terrorists who succeeded in carrying 9/11 attacks and others in many parts of the world. For Jihadists from all over the world, the US interests and those of its allies remain their target.
Terrorism will increase as long as there are diametrical differences between US policy in the Muslim world and the views of Jihadists who have enough means to spread their terror. Terrorism can’t be rooted out overnight as long a captured or a killed terrorist is easily replaced by another. Jihadist ideology has deepened even in Western countries through the radical members of Muslim communities. Iraq will remain their focus, as it is the best examples for them to show their followers to what extent American values don’t fit in what they consider an Islamic surrounding that should remain purely so without any foreign influence.
Friday, September 22, 2006
But South Africa isn’t the only country in the world to have a high murder rate. The USA, despite its developed security system, is one of the countries in which there are daily murders. Peaceful countries like Sweden have seen political figures killed on the hand of criminals without political motivation. Its Prime Minister Sven Olof Joachim Palme was killed by a criminal when walking after being at the cinema. Its foreign minister was stabbed to death by a lunatic in a supermarket.
Three days ago a European diplomat and his wife were killed in their home in Rabat, Morocco by a criminal who succeeded in entering it through the window.
Death crimes can’t be prevented even in prosperous societies. Crimes due to material necessity can be prevented by improving the material situation of the population. But crimes related to lunacy and revenge are hard to predict and prevent. They happen in poor and rich societies alike.
The BBC also had the bad luck of having some of its journalists or cameramen attacked or killed. It is always sad to hear a famous journalist being attacked as it was the case for BBC Frank Gardner who was the victim of a terrorist shooting that fortunately didn’t succeed in taking his life. When I see him in the news I admire his courage to keep his dedication to reporting despite this tragic incident. My sympathy also goes to BBC Top Gear presenter Richard Hammond who I wish to see on screen in perfect shape as soon as possible.
Wednesday, September 20, 2006
Democracy is necessary for political stability. If Thailand remains under military control after the Thai military coup, it may lose friends around the world. The military has already been criticised by Washington. As a country whose economy is based on tourism, it should remain an open society where investors feel safe about their economic projects.
The military should be pressed to give up power as soon as possible. If it stays longer in power, this will kill democracy - making of any government its puppet, while the will of people is ignored.
It's better for the Thai people to have democratic fights for power than to remain under the power of the army which primarily should be in barracks at peace time, not giving orders to civilians about what lifestyle they should have.
Joining the European Union doesn’t guarantee economic prosperity for the whole population. It can have adverse effect as joining the EU means abiding by its laws, which some see as an erosion of their country’s sovereignty. In Poland – now a member of the EU - there is shortage of skilled workers because of their massive migration mainly to England. So this means if Bulgarians and Romanians have skills needed in rich countries of the EU like France, Germany and UK, they will leave for them leaving their own country in need of a skilled labour that will no longer be easily available and at affordable prices.
But at the same time it can be an opportunity for the Romanians and the Bulgarians to be more competitive to enter the EU market as active partners and not living on EU aid and subsidies, which will make of them just satellite states or small brothers needing the protection of their big brothers
Tuesday, September 19, 2006
In politics, the end justifies the means. For a party it can resort to spying on other parties as it was in Watergate or they can lure candidates from other parties to join them.
The Hungarian PM was bold enough to admit that he had lied. Many governments are in power because of the continuous lies they use to keep their grip on power. They all have the Machiavellian mentality, which say that you should nail your enemies before they nail you.
We all lie from time to time. There are lies and lies. White lies are benign. They aren't meant to give a black eye. Many governments lie through their broken promises. In politics, any small lie counts. You can lie to your rivals. But the people should be told the truth about anything of paramount concern to them. Then they have the right to wage protest, show solidarity or fall into the silent majority.
The United Nations General Assembly is meeting to debate the state of the world. Topics are expected to include international peace keeping, the environment, the Middle East, nuclear proliferation, UN reform and the next secretary-general. Each assembly puts in question the effectiveness of this world body.
UN members have different political agendas. Small countries tend to follow the big ones through the World Bank, economic aid and military protection. The UN, despite its successes in some areas, remains a lame duck in a world where there is competition for superiority. The US, the biggest member has a history of deep disagreement with the UN on many issues like Iran and Kyoto accord. The UN is working in a world where there are political alliances that don't often see eye to eye. The US and its allies have enough power to impose their will on the world stage. There are other organisations like Non-aligned movements whose members are good at drafting resolutions without implementing them. All such states converge at the UN, but there they have more what to disagree than what to agree upon. At best the UN is just a forum where no one is forcibly bound to any signed agreement.
For the UN to be effective, member states should built mutual trust and cooperation. The UN doesn't have the power to change governments. When regional grouping like the Arab League, the African Union become able to implement their resolutions effectively, then it will become easy for UN member states to agree on global policies. Today many states have political commitment with countries far from their borders. The relations with their neighbours are mainly based on guarding the borders from infiltrators rather than deepening political cooperation.
As there are many corrupt governments, whatever aid the UN provides will be futile. As for conflicts, it's up to the parties involved to resolve them peacefully. The UN can't step in any area without the agreement of the governments concerned. All it can do is to impose sanctions. This is not a radical solution, since only the people who suffer from them as it was the case in Iraq.
The UN despite its failure to resolve long standing problems in areas like the Middle East has had some success in areas like East Timor. The world can be worse without it. If it can't solve all political problems, at least, it limits their worsening. Without UN intervention in Lebanon, this could have turned into rubble, dragging the whole region into a catastrophic war. The UN should reshape itself to have more credibility instead of remaining a forum for debates leading nowhere.
Monday, September 18, 2006
This incident can be an opportunity for the Vatican and the Muslim world to extend the hand of friendship and to bury the swords they were pointing at one another before and after the arrival of the Byzantine emperor whose remarks on Islam were mistakenly resurrected by the Pope. If the Pope meant no harm, what he said was a deep wound that opened in the heart of Muslims’ pride in their religion, at a time when moderate Muslims want to show the world that they are peace loving and to free themselves from the stereotypes many ignorantly have about them.
Friday, September 15, 2006
Pope Benedict XVI citing a quotation about the "inhuman and evil " nature of Islam has triggered angry reactions from Muslims around the world. By knowingly quoting the words of an emperor openly hateful of Islam, he implicitly expresses his papal attitude towards it. It's true that there are Muslim religious leaders who vehemently attack non-Muslim values, but they never go as far as criticising Jesus Christ. As Christianity is for loving thy neighbour as thou love thyself, the Pope should have given examples on how religions should live side by side. As a moral authority he just opened the gate for deeper divisions between Islam and Christianity, which will be exploited by fanatics on both sides.
His cited quotation about Prophet Muhammad is much worse than the cartoons published by a Danish newspaper. This can be excused for exercising freedom of expression. But the Pope as a moral authority should weigh all his words. Anything he says is seen as a testimony to prove the validity of an idea. Had he used quotations from the Bible, he wouldn't have caused such a stir.
People in high authority should be careful about their words even when talking in private. Tony Blair and George Bush forgot their microphone on during G8 Summit. Their comment on Hezbollah was heard. This caused uproar in some circles. The same applies to the Pope. He should be more careful about what he says, whether lecturing or heading a congregation. He is a public figure. Anything he says or does carries weight. As the old saying goes, the walls have ears.
The Pope needn't be controversial or equivocal to make his words open to different interpretations. It’s true that the Catholic Church is losing much of its influence in the West because of secularism. He can revive Catholicism in the West but not through bigotry.
Wednesday, September 13, 2006
The relation between the employer and the employee should be based on trust and self-respect. It shouldn’t reach the point when the employee is almost like a slave to his employer. This has the right to check on his employees at work and to reward them for their dedication. But the employee out of work has the right to live his life fully without continuing to have his employer at the back of his mind, following him even in places of intimacy like the bedroom.
The employer shouldn’t become a policeman, installing detectors wherever his employees make a move.
People work to make a living, but not to the extent of biting their lips when their employers show up in places he, for example, considers as indecent and thus the employee will have to account for his behaviour like a child caught in the act by a tutor.
As religion, race, sexual orientation or marital status are banned forms of discrimination that can stand of one’s chances to get a job, and as the state itself doesn’t have the right to interfere in people’s privacy, the same applies to employers who shouldn’t allow themselves to consider their place of work as their empire and their employees as their subjects.
Tuesday, September 12, 2006
There is also pressure on them to be good achievers. In some Asian countries, like South Korea or Singapore, children are overworked by their parents to be well educated. They spend most of their time at school. After school they have extra hours to improve their educational level. To draw a parallel, children in the past were forced to do physical work to help their families. Now they are forced to do extra mental work to help themselves later in life.
In a sense, the open space or playground is no longer a part of their experience. Even physical activities are programmed for them in fitness centres.
In UK, for example, girls, in particular, are faced with premature adulthood. Many teenage girls, still at school, are mothers. This is the result of sexual freedom and ignorance of the proper sexual practices. So they have to cope with the task of studies and motherhood
Many people of the old generations have good memory of their childhood. They had enough free time after their studies. They would devise games in the open, needing physical skills and not a substantial budget. Neighbours were sociable and this made it possible for children in the neighbourhood to know and play with one another. They felt safe. Now the majority of children are kept under constant guard literally and metaphorically. They get too many warnings about their safety and the troubles awaiting them if they aren’t good achievers, which makes them have the worries of adults or turn into careless about what might happen.
As one is never too old to learn, children should be left to live normal childhood. There is life in front of them to learn other things they can't get from formal education.
Generally speaking, due to economic competition worldwide, children are seen as the future capital of their countries that should be invested to the maximum so that they will yield the maximum in adulthood. But children aren’t machines. They are biological entities. When the engine of a machine doesn’t work because of excessive exploitation it can be repaired by substituting the damaged part. But when the psyche of a child is damaged by uncalculated exposure, it damages the personality of that child of whom we want to make the most. One can find the means to acquire a lost object. But a lost part of one’s life is hard to retrieve.
Monday, September 11, 2006
9/11 attacks was an opportunity for the US to know who was with it or against it. They also gave the US free hand to try to shape the political map of the world, especially in the Middle East where issues were shelved like the setting up of a Plalestinian State and others were hurriedly dealt with like regime change in Iraq where terrorists are roaming the country freely in defiance of the imposing presence of the US forces.
The USA in combating terrorism should improve its image in the Muslim world by working to quickly diffuse such complex situations as in the Middle East, which is usually used as a pretext for anti-Americanism.
At present the seed of terrorism is everywhere. There are many people who are desperate because of the political situation of their countries or who have a different vision of the world according to their religious beliefs. For them tolerance is the perpetuation of what they consider as evil.
Terrorism has reached globalisation. Terrorist networks work worldwide. In countries like Pakistan or Iraq there are stories of killing or arresting key terrorists. Arresting or killing a key member is just an opportunity to give rise to a new terrorist leader. In essence, the war is going to be as long as there are political problems seen from a religious point of view and failures to foster tolerance among ordinary people who are usually easy targets to influence and in case of attacks are the first to fall victims.
Friday, September 08, 2006
Concerning the proposal to ban women from praying at key site in Mecca is groundless. This strange proposal is a reminder of cases in some primitive tribes where a woman isn’t allowed to worship God. She should worship her husband, who the only one can worship God directly. Overcrowding should not be used as an excuse if statistically men outnumber women at these key sites. As there is a quota for people allowed to perform al Hajj rituals, it should be the same for people allowed to pray in such places.
The Saudi authorities have already imposed restrictions on women under 40 to perform the annual rituals of Al Hajj and Omra.
The Saudi find it easy to impose any laws on women because they are powerless and the males want to keep their grasp over the women in every movement they make.
The Saudi authorities should be clear about their measures. It should tell the world the reason behind banning women from praying in key sites is to avoid dating between men and women in holy places or physical contact during jostling.
If restrictions continue to be implemented, one day women from the entire world won’t be able to have access to holy sites, so men can pray at ease without being tempted by Satan to go after a woman instead of looking straight in the direction of al Qaaba.
These attacks have put pressure on many Muslim countries to monitor their religious activists to show the world that Islam has nothing to do with terrorism. It has made many countries in the West and in the Islamic world under constant alert to arrest and dismantle terrorist groups. The world has to devise new types of defence strategies. It has to confront elusive terrorist networks who are smart enough to hide among the populations or to enjoy the protection of the locals in inaccessible areas as in the borders between Pakistan and Afghanistan. They are also smart enough to devise new attack plans, bewildering security services, despite their large and sophisticated resources.
The arrest of alleged terrorists has raised controversies about the conditions of their detentions, especially in Guantanamo Bay and other secret locations in other countries that are cooperating with the US in its fight against terrorism.
But from their past attacks, terrorists permitted themselves to kill innocent people in the fashion they considered as a Jihad against the infidel. Governments, to protect their people should devise laws and detention centres fit to their deeds. The terrorist operations are premeditated. There is no justification to engage in killing. It is hard to call for human rights in favour of such terrorists when they act in a very inhumane way, making of innocent people their scapegoats to make their points.
9/11 was an incident that triggered a chain of events whose consequences are felt on all levels. But as terrorists have support here and there, the battle seems to be going for a long time as the breeding ground is available. Fighting terrorism is the work of individual governments and not of a single powerful government dictating to the rest of the world what to do.
Thursday, September 07, 2006
It is good for Blair to be decided about his political future, in that he can spend the remaining period putting things in order for his successor, for his party and above all for UK. Internationally, political leaders will know what alliance to have with Britain, especially George Bush, who may have the challenging task of persuading the future PM to be on his side in foreign policies.
The Labour Party itself will need to find a successor who is able to secure its popularity for a new win in the coming general elections. If it remains divided on who should succeed Tony Blair, impairing its image, it may lose the rare chance it has had of staying in power. The Labour Party should remember it was division within the Conservative Party after the departure of former PM Margaret Thatcher that has allowed it to remain in power on and on.
Maybe, if the Labour Party can’t come up with a conniving policy, national and international, it will say goodbye to power as Tony Blair is ready to say goodbye to being its leader.
But in view of the extensive damage and the political situation, Lebanon can restart through promised international aid and investment from Lebanese compatriots. It will need more time to win the confidence of international investors, especially in tourism – a trade that can flourish only in stable areas.
But as the Lebanese were able to resurrect after their civil war, which left Lebanon in a much worse state than it is now, it is possible for them to re-emerge, all depending on the peace they can have with Israel and the extent of national unity they can put in practice.
In British modern history, very few Prime Ministers stayed in office for more than five years. The exception was Conservative Margaret Thatcher who stayed in power for more than 10 years, which was considered as a record. She was under pressure to go, which she did tearfully. Now it’s the turn of the Labour Party to do the same with its leader, Tony Blair, who seems for some to have overstayed in his office. They want him to step down. It’s true that Tony Blair was first elected by the Labour Party to be its leader, allowing him through Labour Party majority in Parliament to become the Prime Minister.
But a leader is never immune from criticism. There are opposition parties which try to detect his weaknesses to have political points. There are aspiring members of his party who don’t want to be under the same leader for a long time and who want to take his position or vote for a new leader. There is also public opinion.
But in general, a party, to win with a landslide, needs a charismatic leader. Tony Blair has been such since his first year in office. His young age, eloquence and successful home policies secured him popularity and vote winning in the last three general elections.
Now it seems that the wheel of fortune has turned against him. Domestically, there are calls for his resignation. His foreign policy has been intertwined with that of George Bush, making him seem as servile to him. This is enough to portray him as taking UK in the wrong direction.
But to solve this problem, there should be ways to deal with such a situation. The parliament should vote if Mr Blair should stay in office. There should be a public referendum. Or simply, there should be a limited number of years a Prime Minister should stay in office regardless of his popularity or the victories of his party. This can spare the governing party divisions which can mar its chances in future elections.
Tuesday, September 05, 2006
It can be accepted to see a man and a woman engaging in sexual relationship through marriage or commitment. But it can be hard in some societies to tolerate gay relationship when they are still governed by religious laws that prohibit this.
The rejection of gay relationships in many societies has to do with the concept of manhood. A man should be an active sexual partner. To be so he should sexually engage with a woman. Not being heterosexual implies failing to be man enough to attract women. It is extremely rare to see gays held in esteem in societies where traditions are still predominant, whether these are in Africa or Asia. Accepting gay relationships or marriage can be a threat to their religious values, as this implies a fundamental change in the social fabric. There is the fear of the spread of gay culture through music, literature, press that can alter the conservative views of sex and personal conduct.
In the West, it is possible to tolerate gays where there are laws against discrimination. Gays are open about their sexual orientations without inhibition. Turning the clock back, in Hollywood no star could publicly show being gay. Even actresses couldn’t show their pregnancies outside marriage. Now stars, politicians, writers etc, come forward and declare who they are without fear of prosecution or job loss. But in conservative societies homosexuality is practised in secret for fear of violent reaction from the surrounding. The lesser trouble homosexuals can face in such societies is isolation. At worst, they can be jailed or even sentenced to death.
As some have an inane tendency to be gay, it’s better for them to keep their practice secret instead of clamouring for their rights by holding public meetings in an environment where even talking about sex or introducing sex education are still taboo. It’s better to move to countries where they can enjoy their practices instead of remaining in confrontation with values that are hard to change or which admit that you can do it, but don’t tell anyone about it.
Monday, September 04, 2006
Among the reasons why many rich and industrialised countries are threatened with a falling number of future scientists is the falling birth rate and the falling academic achievements at school.
Today young students in rich countries are faced with too many distractions thanks to the affluence of their societies. This makes it possible for them to spend time enjoying themselves rather than concentrating on their studies. Teachers no longer command the same authority they used to have as there are disciplinary problems.
The computer paradoxically contributes to students’ laziness. They can perform many operations by using, for example, a calculating machine rather than mental calculations or a pen and a paper as it used to be the case in the past.
Rich countries at least have the means to find more scientists. They can offer incentives to highly qualified people from the third world like the Asians who are known to be good at mathematics.
Some years ago, Germany was in need of sixty thousand engineers in information technology.It put its preference on Pakistanis and Indians.
All in all, to prepare future scientists, students should be sensitised that life is easy for them thanks to scientific discoveries and achievements. But future generations should take the lead before there will be shortage of people skilled in jobs needing mathematical excellence.
Friday, September 01, 2006
The worst moment a child living with adorable parents can face is when they get separated or divorced. This means a split in his life as he can’t see them altogether in the same house. To have a normal life a child needs a mother and a father by his side from whom he can enjoy protection, learn how to cope later in life.
Normal parents remain attached to their children under any circumstances. They are part of themselves and they do their utmost for their happiness. In the majority of countries the custody of the child is given to the mother, unless she is unfit to mother her children because of her neglect or infamous behaviour.
A child can choose in case of divorce or separation which parent to live with if one is bad, giving him justification and easy choice. But when the parents are normal and affectionate, the child will always have an emotional lacuna. The other problem for the parent not having the custody of the children is that when they grow up they will have more attachment to the one who brought them up, thus adding to a sense of failure.
Divorce and child custody have always been a difficult legal procedure. Children can be spared a lot of trouble if they are lucky to be born to parents who are capable of living together through good times and bad times till death do them part.
Talking about a film speculating the death of George Bush, we can say that Mr Bush can be a bad president for some but as a person he is adorable. He is after all a good American citizen who wants all the good for his country. Simply he can’t get his message across some boards or his foreign policy in some areas of the world is still confusing, raising controversies.
George Bush has a lot of enemies inside and outside the USA. It is certain that his enemies in the USA want to kill just his policy. Outside, there are those who want to see him physically dead.
George Bush is an adorable person. After seeing the film we should thank God that the film was just a nightmare. But Mr Bush is kicking and alive enjoying his retreat in his Texas Ranch or making a speech hypnotising his audience with his cunning smiles, just as Tuco does to do his deeds.