Saturday, 26 March 2016

Should One Nation or the United Nations Lead Us?

When there are, depending on definition, from 11,500 to 16,000 “people” groups in our 195 countries, all with their own agenda and hopes, is it not a dream that they can all be guided into fair and peaceful pursuits?  Yet, there is no shortage of applicants to lead us. Dreamers, few desireable, include countries, empires, religions, multi-nationals, benefactors, oppressors, oligarchs, terrorists, merchants of death, and what-have-you? 
    With human survival now at risk, new revolutions are inevitable.  Can we trust any leader?  Both current top contenders are fraught with good and bad points, money woes, cancers, and lacking world-wide acceptance: the United Nations and the United States.  The UN has the right but the US has the might.  Their flaws?
The League of Nations failed to keep us from WWII and its successor, the UN, has failed to prevent the  bloodshed that remains world-wide.  Hardly an example of democracy, the 5 Security Council permanent members have exercised their veto powers: USSR 103 times, USA 79, (many in support of Israeli aggression). UK 29, France 16, and China 9.  In fact Harry Truman warned at is founding that the US which had refused to join the League of Nations would not join the UN without a veto power.
To judge the US in the US is unpopular as its media paints a glowing picture of the great, and real, worldwide good it does, so we should just forget all the bad.  Yet dissidents are growing more numerous and vociferous. 
Blessed by Geography but cursed by History, the US promotes itself to lead and has made giant progress.  Can it be trusted when  its 300 million individually-owned guns prove it does not trust itself?  Fractious at home the US has a love affair with itself abroad.  It also suffers from a superiority complex, firmly believing it values, empathy, economics, wealth, capitalists, and military might are exactly what a floundering world needs.   
While this problem may not rank with the greater ones we face such as over-population, climate change, water shortages, endemic violence, migrations, and the like, we do need to be cautious and ponder our alternatives.
Sure, it appears that the US is now secure in the world’s top-dog position, but how much of this is due to innate superiority and how much to skullduggery and enormous debt?  How do we pursue a fair balance?
Geographically, the US enjoys a large land mass in a preferred climatic zone facing three oceans and  peaceful neighbours.  It has enormous natural resources.  Sadly, with brutal force it did gain this land by stealing it from the original owners, then grabbing big chunks from Canada (upper NY State, Michigan, Illinois, Iowa, Washington State), from Mexico (Texas, California), from Polynesia (Hawaii, Guam, etc), from Cuba (Guantanamo) not to mention interfering in the rest of America - a name it steals from the rest of two continents implying it believes other occupants are unimportant.  Endorsement of slavery multiplied this indifference. 
The US Media has always played an independent, controlled, biased, unbiased, ignored, and influential role and still offers arguments to prove any interpretation we can dream up, thus demanding time, involvement, assessment, and intellect to uncover the truth which seems to differ day by day.  Consider the endless, money-infested, US electioneering.  Billions of dollars, needed elsewhere, are wasted insulting voters with constant reminders of for whom they must vote.  Of current contestants, only Berni Sanders is not a hawk, but he lacks the coverage the Trump money-earning theatre gets. The complaints of many members of the National Press Corps that their investigative research suffers 90% censorship confirms my view that the for-profit news outlets are quite controlled and slanted and justifies me watching or reading the Berlin Diary, BBC,  PBS, the UK Guardian, the Toronto Globe & Mail, al Jazeera, and a score of dissident investigative reporters. 
   The Military-Industrial Complex: Listening to the Senate-Armed-Services-Committee debates induces fearful foreboding.  Members argued for more money to maintain weapons for endless future wars, not for preventing them.  They claim the nation must modernize, simplify, and make more usable its already-world-destroying nuclear arsenal.  The bloated 2016 budget could finalize between $572 and $682 billion. Too little heed has been paid to Eisenhower’s warning that this association thrives on wars and the threat of wars.  If no enemies exist, invent some.  Russia continues to be a good candidate.  Just look at its aggression in the Ukraine.  But is not the Ukraine the real Russia? Never mind, badboy Putin must be contained but would Trump be any better? Iran can be feared, forgetting the West has done far more harm to it than vice versa, There is always China in and out of favour, but above all there is Daesh and Al Qaida, and Al Shababa, and Boko Haram - the list is endless and their inhumanity does necessitate a strong military to eliminate them.  But, does not the West share the blame for their birth and existence?  How useful are current weapons?  Our errors and root causes need scrutiny and remedies.  For whose benefit do we need the US to tax and borrow the enormous sums needed to deploy 2,118,000 able-bodied men and women, 450 ICBMS, 11 Carrier Groups, 14 SSBNs, 304 navy ships, 137 USAF squadrons of which 13 are bomber and 75 fighter, and to maintain, at the moment, about 737 bases around the world when the Roman Empire flourished with 37 and the larger British with 36?  
In comparison, Russia has 10 foreign bases, 8 of which are in former USSR countries.  France has 23, 8 of which are in former or current colonies, the UK has 12, 8 in former or current colonies.  Not counting Tibet, China has one (Djibouti) but does have several economic footholds in Africa and the Americas.
Germany hosts 268 US bases, a source of shame for a great country, yet a town near a US base that was set for closure  urged the German Government to persuade the US to change its mind.  For a small town it was a great source of jobs and income. Money sometimes trumps national pride.
Does not the huge superiority of the US military and economic might work against the interests of its taxpayers?  The invasions of Viet Nam, Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya, plus the support of aggressive regimes in Israel, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia resulted in havoc and immense suffering.  Likewise, UK taxpayers complained about the cost of empire even though it was a source of pride to see on world maps one quarter coloured red. It does force other countries to increase their military budgets and seek other alliances to gain more importance at least in their own eyes.  Whether it is the Yukon gold rush or current conflicts it is the contractors who provide the jobs and make the profits but gravity works in reverse.  Profits accumulate at the very top.  So, when we think of a country do we mean the politicians, the oligarchs, or the people?
Are sole super powers good or bad for humanity?  It is a source of an inferiority complex to have foreigners  come in and dominate your culture and take your women, yet several empires brought peace, jobs, security, schooling, housing, and transportation.   The fact that most of the British Empire chose to remain in the Commonwealth after peaceful transition to independence speaks well of Britain’s tenure as top dog.  Even a non-Empire country, Madagascar,  joined the Commonwealth.  Gurkhas still seek to join the British army.  It was also a proud boast of “Civus Romanus sum” when many conquered people were granted Roman citizenship.  
The latest terror weapon is drones.  The US leads, by far, with their use followed by Israel, the UK, China, and (suspected) Pakistan, Russia, and Iran.  Advances in means of killing fellow humans has never been exclusive. From the invention of the bow and arrow or the smelting of iron the inventions of the few soon become the property of the all.  Now is the time to halt this and other weapons.  Drones claim to be clean, taking fewer lives and allowing the aggressor to kill safely from a distance.  It can never be free of collateral damage and think of the world-wide terror we will all face when, in 10 years, every group will have them.      The US was the first to use nuclear weapons and has yet to be followed by others although they are now possessed in terrifying numbers by Russia, France, China, the UK, India, Israel, Pakistan, and North Korea.  Countries that had them, like the Ukraine and South Africa, eliminated theirs and many countries with the capability, like Canada, have refrained from making them, but it is foreboding that Canada has experimented with and may now join the drone club.  We can be certain it will not stop there.
     Humans cannot be trusted and before the forces mentioned in the 6th paragraph of this essay bec ome dominant thus putting pressure on the holders of weapons of mass destruction to actually use them it is imperative we start immediately at their reduction and elimination.  The US, Russia, China, and India must lead in this.
The US has only 5% of the world’s population so it has no grounds to dominate. The NRA, dominant in the US,  preaches that only a good guy with a gun can stop a bad guy with a gun.  Why then were there 13,286 killed and 26,814 wounded by guns in the US in 2015?  No good guys?  There have been times in world history when military might served humanity but overall it has failed us, killing at least 6 billion people, and causing much destruction and grief.  It is high time to turn our swords into ploughshares. 
Let US scientists, educators, philanthropists, astronauts, authors, entertainers, and so on continue world collaboration while the country, and the rest of the world under UN guidance and support, turn to the strong base in every country of talented, respectful, peaceful, likeable, humans who respect their environment and the rights of others.
Our best chance for survival is to provide an improved United Nations the wherewithal to enforce its humane goals - an immense task with Greed and Ignorance our main enemies, but is there any other flicker of hope?                                                


Thursday, 10 March 2016


Having heard that an aspirant for the office of President of the USA plans to build a wall to keep Mexicans out, then to force Canada to build one to keep the US at home, is it not wise to consider the thoughts of a few others: 

The Concept of Ma'at (Egypt 3100 B.C.):  The God-Queen or God-King is supreme, but they and their officials must rule in accordance with Ma'at - a natural moral law that combines order, justice, harmony, goodness, and truth. (Much later this became a theme in Anglo-Saxon thought.)
Confucious (China 551-479 B.C.): 1. Character is the root of civilization.   If the ruler is virtuous, the people will also be virtuous.  2. Never do to others what you would not like them to do to you.
The Magi of Persia to Alexander the Great (330 B.C.):  He who is chosen to rule may choose little for himself thereafter.
Cicero (Rome 106 - 43 B.C.):  The good of the people is the first law.    This is best achieved by a mixed constitution like that of the Roman Republic.  Benevolent monarchy is the next best form of government, followed by oligarchy, then by democracy.
Jesus Christ:   1,  Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's; and unto God the things that are God's.
2.  Love thy neighbour as thyself.
Tacitus, (Gaul, 56-117 AD): The more corrupt the state, the more numerous the laws.
The Koran:   Allah loveth not aggressors for persecution is worse than slaughter.
Niccolo Machiavelli (Florence 1469-1527):   A prince should be both loved and feared, but it is safer to be feared.  Most men are ungrateful, cowardly, greedy liars. A ruler who gains their loyalty by purchase rather than by grandeur and nobility is ruined.  The end justifies the means; the prince who conquers and maintains the state will always be considered honourable.
Louis XIV (France, 1643-1715):   I am the State!    (as shown by Jacques Bossuet in “Politics Drawn from the Very Words of Holy Scriptures", kings may rule by divine right, and to attack a king in any way is to attack God.  But, the king is not a private person. He belongs to the public.
Voltaire, (France, 1694-1778):  Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities.
Samuel Johnson (British poet and writer 1709-1784):   There is a remedy in human nature against tyranny that will keep us safe under every form of government.
Frederick the Great (Prussia 1712-1786):   My people and I have come to an agreement that satisfies us both. They say what they please; and I do what I please.
Thomas Paine (Britain - USA, author and humanitarian, 1737-1809):   Government, even in its best state, is but a necessary evil; in its worst state, an intolerable one. 
Edmund Burke (British statesman 1729-1797):   1.  It is the love of the people; it is their attachment to their government, from the sense of the deep stake they have in such a fine institution, which gives you your army and navy,"and infuses into both that liberal obedience, without which your army would be base rubble, and your navy nothing but rotten timber.   2.  To tax and to please, no more than to love and to be wise, is not given to man.   3.  Liberty can not exist among a corrupt people. The use of force alone is but temporary.  It does not remove the need to subdue again; and a nation is not governed which is forever to be conquered.
George III (relating to the British Empire and the U.S.A. after 1776):   Monarchy,  where   potential  monarchs are trained  from childhood for responsibilities of high office, is better than what the United States will become: a nation governed by lawyers, most of whom will do more for their own welfare than for the welfare of the nation.
Duke of Wellington (on defeating Napoleon at Waterloo, 1815): Nothing, save a battle lost, can be so melancholy as a battle won.
  Alexis de Tocqueville (French author on touring North America in 1830's):   A democracy, with universal suffrage, lends itself to the "tyranny of the majority".  The majority of voters belongs to the most passionate and the least enlightened classes of society.   Also frequent elections rob governments of perseverance and order, and permits officials to exercise a tyranny worse than that of the most despotic governments. Old France is dead in Europe, but alive in Canada.    Under British protection and financial support the French Canadians are the happiest and most tax-free people on earth, but their birthrate will one day swamp the British, and result in the establishment of a free, moral, and enlightened French Empire in the New World.  
Benjamin Disraeli (A Jew who became British Prime Minister in 1868):  Finality is not the language of politics.  Change is inevitable.  In a progressive country change is constant.  No government can be long secure without a formidable opposition. All power is a trust, and we must answer to the people for its use.  
William Gladstone (1809-98, UK PM):  My first principle of foreign policy is good governance at home.
Otto von Bismark (1815-98 German Chancellor):  Laws are like sausages, it is better not to see them being made. 
Woodrow Wilson (1856-1924, US President):   The government, which was designed for the people, has got into the hands of special interests. An invisible empire has been set up above the forms of democracy. 
George Bernard Shaw (Irish-English dramatist 1865-1950):   1.   Democracy is the last refuge of cheap misgovernment.  2.  Liberty means responsibility and that is why most men dread it.   3.  The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself.  Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.   4.  Do not do unto others as you would they do unto you. Their tastes may not be the same.
Winston Churchill (UK 1874-1965): 1. No dictator had as much effective power as the British War Cabinet.  When we expressed our desires we were sustained and cheerfully obeyed by all.  Yet at no time was the right of criticism impaired.    It was a proud thought that Parliamentary Democracy can endure, surmount, and survive all trials.
2.  The best argument against democracy is a 5-minute conversation with the average voter.
H.L. Mencken, (1880-1956, USA):  The most dangerous man to any government is the man who is able to think things out for himself, without regard to the prevailing superstitions and taboos. Almost inevitably he comes to the conclusion that the government he lives under is dishonest, insane, and intolerable.
Edward R, Murrow, (1908-1965, USA): A nation of sheep will beget a government of wolves.
John F. Kennedy, (1917-1963, USA):  Ask not what your country can do for you - ask what you can do for your country. (Speech written by Theodore Sorensen).
Pratibha Patil, (1934 - (President, India):   Corruption is the enemy of development, and of good governance.  Both the government and the people must come together to get rid of it. 
Kurt Vonnegut, (1922-2007, USA): What has allowed so many psychopathic personalities to rise so high is that they are so decisive. They do something every day and are not afraid and are never filled with doubts because they don’t care what happens next. Mobilize the reserves! Privatize the public schools! Attack Iraq! Cut health care! Tap everybody’s telephone! Forget habeas corpus and the Sierra Club! There is a tragic flaw in our precious Constitution, and what can be done to fix it? This is it: Only nut cases want to be president.
Justin Trudeau, Canadian PM: If the US expects to lead the world it needs to know more about the world.
Ye Olde Scribe also has views: In human societies there are far too many complexities, requirements, and uncertainties to dispense with leaders, be they shamans, priests, chieftains, managers, kings, queens, presidents, or emperors.  They can be excellent, benevolent, good, fair, corrupt, bad, dictators, or tyrants.  But all leaders need lieutenants to enact decisions.  The larger the society the more managers the lieutenants need and these managers are those who really run the society.  We must ensure they possess empathy.  Given responsibility in a certain area it is all too common for many to become entrenched as “little tin gods”, assuming more authority and righteousness than granted.  I was to discover that the RCAF had a way of circumventing this:
My career included various menial jobs before, between, and after major stints in banking, the military, public teaching, and volunteering, but the RCAF gave me the biggest challenges and satisfactions while ensuring my ego remained contained.     In 25 years I had  12 major assignments in 39 locations, 9 of these with family, which meant packing, moving, house hunting, getting children in and out of schools, while expected to be productive within hours of arriving at a new location, a strange new job, new people, and a new environment.   Sometimes I was a student, sometimes a teacher, sometimes a warrior, sometimes a peacemaker, sometimes a leader, sometimes a cog in the wheel. 
    I will be forever grateful for how well my wife and 5 girls took all this in their stride, and were the better for it.