Press Freedom and National Security


Freedom of the press should have moral limits. As journalists should not abuse such freedom for defamation, they should also be careful when reporting about sensitive matters which is not a threat to the nation but whose publication is so indeed. State secrets should be secrets as they can be exploited by enemies. A journalist’s work is primarily to inform and not to spy.

There are news media seek scandalous news just to increase its commercial benefits. TV channels do so to have more appeal for advertisers, newspapers and magazines do so to increase their circulations.
We mustn’t forget the cases in which scandals were reported, past and present, like Watergate or the treatment of prisoners in Abu Gharib prison. These had positive outcome; in that they drew attention to some excesses.

But the case of disclosing the secret programme to track the financing of terrorist organisations, New York Times could have used some financial scandals for its front page. Thus leaving the Bush Administration accomplish its task to fight terrorism. Disclosing secret matters of paramount importance to national security is like disclosing the details of a future military operation to the enemy.

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Kidnapping from Isreal and incursion in Gaza


The abduction of Israeli soldier Cpl Gilad Shalit was just a trigger to restart armed animosity between Isreal and radical factions in the Palestinian territories.

There are two facts to draw from Israeli incursion in Gaza. The first is that the military mission is a reminder of the film “Saving Private Ryan” in which soldiers had to do their outmost to save Ryan even if that operation ended in the death of some in the rescue team. Politically, the case is a reminder that the Israeli politicians and the Palestinian radicals are so intransigent that any peaceful compromise is seen by each as a surrender or defeat.

Amidst this high profile tension, Hamas has reiterated its refusal to recognise Isreal. So as previously mentioned the abduction of Israeli soldier Cpl Gilad Shalit is just a pretext to settle issues that are for them a matter of life of death.

The questions is whether the generations of both Israelis and Palestinians -grown to hate and fight one another sometime savagely, another in a chivalry fashion- can accept permanent peace without yearning for the days in which some armed operations were more a sport than an act of defence.

The Palestinians’ and Israelis’ existence is so intertwined, at present with memories of blood and with continuous suspicion. Maybe one day -as France and Germany buried their hatchets after decades of open hostilities to become exemplary neighbours, the Israelis and the Palestinians will wake up to find the dividing wall and the checkpoints having disappeared for good.
29/06/2006 02:33

Child Sex Abuse


Belgium has many times been in the news for the record of crimes in which children were the victims. Some public figures were scandalised because of their paedophilia. Children were kidnapped by apparently psychologically unstable paedophiles, raped and killed. There were cases of paedophilia within some churches. Some child criminals remain out the reach of justice until found after committing horrendous crimes.

Concerning paedophilia, it remains difficult to protect children as some are victimised by their family members and even their parents. In some conservative societies, paedophilia happens but remains covered-up. Parents can’t report the abusers of their children for fear of scandal in their surrounding. The child doesn’t receive any psychological counselling This distorts their psychological make-up.
Children should be taught to know how to protect themselves and not to be easygoing, especially; with strangers however good they look.

19/06/2006 16:19

Apologising for Slavery


Apologising for slavery should be in deeds not in words. The best compensation slave descendants can get is that they should no longer be portrayed in a racist way. Many blacks around the world suffer disfavour. Blacks were either the victims of slavery or colonisation. Now they are the victims to a large extent from mismanagement by their government after independence and racism in Europe, particularly. Making such adjustments can an effective apology, in that human brotherhood transcends colour, culture and political borders.

But we mustn’t forget neo-slavery. Women are exploited in brothels after being lured in sex trade. Illegal immigrants are forced to do jobs in abject conditions for a low pay, without having their rights guaranteed.

As we look back to draw lessons from enslaving blacks in the past with its inhuman consequences, we should not let modern types of slavery thrive and wait for a century to apologise for it.
22/06/2006 17:19

Troop Withdawal from Iraq?

US troops’ withdrawal from Iraq must be linked to the level of full political stability, the weakening of insurgence and the geopolitical situation in the region. The US can link its withdrawal with its relations with Iran concerning the nuclear issue. If the US leaves Iraq without settling this issue, Iran will try to weaken the Iraqi government by interfering in its policy by supporting the insurgents, thus creating an atmosphere of war worse than the current security situation in Iraq now.

Even US and British troops’ withdrawal from Iraq will be replaced by continuous supervision of the Iraqi army through US & UK military advisers who will continue to train the Iraqi army and to offer military strategic assistance to deal with internal and external security threats. The US in particular will keep a close eye on the functioning of the Iraqi government so it won’t ally with hostile regimes in the region like Iran. It will need to keep a check on Iraq armament so it won’t deviate from the international standards.

So the only benefit from the withdrawal will be for the soldiers in constant risk of kidnapping, injuries and death. Public outcry at home will diminish and the Iraq card won’t be loosely used in political debates and elections. The focus will be on internal matters. For the Pentagon and the American Administration in general, the work will continue to secure stability in Iraq and to have pro-American government in place.
22/06/2006 15:50

North Korea Nuclear Threat

North Korea is a military power through its presumably possession of sophisticated nuclear missiles . Ironically, its military “might” is contradicted by its huge economic backwardness. It should take the example of its neighbour South Korea which has become an economic giant in a relatively short time through its openness and being a liberal country. North Korea is isolated because of its isolationist policy. It can also take the example from former Soviet Union, which despite its huge arsenal of military nuclear weapons crumbled.

North Korea will become a real threat if the communist leaders become desperate because of their international isolation and launch a nuclear attack. They have nothing to lose as they took the experience of sacrificing people through their police state system and the complacency to see North Koreans to a large extent suffering from economic hardship due to their policies.

If there is any comparison to be made by Iran( which is set to develop its nuclear program) and NK( which pretends that it has far-reaching nuclear missiles is that Iran at least has oil resources which contribute to world economy. NK hasn’t any. All that it has are threats especially, to those exceeding it economically and politically. South Korea will remain a thorn in the side of NK leaders as it shows North Koreans the alternative life they can have if they get rid of their communist regime.
21/06/2006 14:47

MONARCHY: WAR, PEACE & GRACE

MONARCHY: GRACE & PEACE
Monarchy in many countries is the symbol of national unity and identity. But as an institution, it should move with time. What makes some monarchies unpopular is when the monarch has disregard for popular attitudes, trying to keep privileges or authorities dating from centuries and which have little to do with political aspiration of the new generations. But there are absolute monarchs under disguise in some republics like North Korea or Syria where the leaders continued to rule until their death, then they were immediately replaced by their sons without a popular vote for the presidency.
Queen Elizabeth II is one of the rare monarchs on the British Throne. She can be compared to Elizabeth I and Queen Victoria whose period of reign witnessed fundamental changes in British society. Queen Elizabeth I reigned through the period of Renaissance. Britain was a respected and feared nation throughout Europe – the Spanish Armada Battle is a proof. Queen Victoria’s period witnessed the expansion of Britain. She was the Queen of the British Empire. This was coupled with the giant scientific progress which made Britain a superpower. For Elizabeth during her reign – we wish her longer years to live and reign- has succeeded in maintaining the respect of the royal family despite the fundamental changes in the British society – including the social revolution in the sixties and also the various scandals within the royal family during the 90s, the famous of which the worsening relations between Charles and Diana leading to their divorce. Queen Elizabeth on every occasion managed to maintain her strength of will, keeping the monarchy popular not in Britain but around the world, especially, in the United States of America and even in former colonies like India. Happy birthday to her and congratulation to the British for having such a wonderful queen.

MONARCHY: EXAMPLES & COUNTEREXAMPLE

Monarchy in Nepal has become shaky because the king has been facing internal opposition. In Japan and Thailand, monarchy is popular and a stabilizing factors because it is constitutional, leaving the choice to people to decide through elected governments in whose policy the monarch doesn’t intervene. As Thailand and Japan succeeded in progressing without relinquishing their traditions, monarchy is sure to continue in these countries.
In Japan and Nepal, the monarchs make frequent appearances. In Nepal, the king is in spotlight because of opposition to his rule. In Thailand, the monarch is almost invisible, making rare appearances and speeches. This has made him a semi-god enjoying absolute veneration because he is not an absolute monarch. Having absolute spiritual authority, leaving mundane authority to politicians who by a magic act of the king agree to put things in order instead of plunging the country into chaos as it happened in a military coup in the 80’s which was quickly ended by the intervention of the king.

MONARCHY IN NEPAL: WAR & PEACE


One negative aspect of absolute monarchy is when the king considers himself as the rightful guardian of society disregarding calls for change. It can be OK for a king to perpetuate a style of rule, subjugating his people by enshrining himself with sacredness. But in today’s world, there is no place for despotism. The mass media has succeeded in showing people various forms of rule just by following the news of and from other countries. People in Nepal have the right to choose their style of government without having to overthrow their king if they both agree to a democratic style that includes instead of excluding sections of society – turning them in revolutionaries and thus perpetuating instability as each conflicting side has its own force to depend on. Monarchy is a part of the history of Nepal. But not to become completely obsolete, it should move with the aspiration of the people. The Nepalese are one of most peaceful people in the world. Neither they nor their king should come to bloodshed or violence to settle their differences about the style of government.

People in Nepal have the right to choose their style of government without having to overthrow their king if they both agree to a democratic style that includes instead of excluding sections of society – turning them in revolutionaries and thus perpetuating instability as each conflicting side has its own force to depend on. Monarchy is a part of the history of Nepal. But not to become completely obsolete, it should move with the aspiration of the people. The Nepalese are one of most peaceful people in the world. Neither they nor their king should come to bloodshed or violence to settle their differences about the style of government. The King by agreeing to power sharing will spare Nepal years of poverty and uncertainty.

The Maoist and the government in Nepal agreeing to hold a joint administration is to be considered as a new era for Nepal. The king should also be given credit for agreeing to earlier reforms following the popular uprising. Without his compromise, it would be impossible to bring the Maoist to an agreement with the Nepalese prime minister. It remains to see if the rebels will join the armed forces so national unity and peace will become a reality. Otherwise, the country will remain divided.

Guantanamo Air Transport & Suicide

European airports to transfer terror suspects
Wednesday, 07 June 2006 15:18

The use of European airports to transfer terror suspects should not come as a surprise.

The US has military bases around Europe as part of NATO deal. There are coalition forces, from the countries where the terror suspects were transported, in Afghanistan and Iraq. There is security exchange between the US and these countries to combat terrorism. There are still suspected terrorists from different countries in Guantanamo Bay. Their countries have cooperated with the US to provide it with further information about them.

There are extradition treaties between the US and many countries around the world. The US offers military aid to many of its allies especially, in the third countries which it considers as its strategic allies in exchange of collaborating with it to defend its interests and to maintain its military presence in key areas around the world.

So the transport of terror suspects via international airport should be seen just as a drop in the ocean or a part of the global plan / picture to fight terrorism and maintain security link between the US and its strategic partners.

Guantanamo detainees suicide

The suicide of Guantanamo detainees should be seen a moment to reflect upon the raison d’être of this detention centre. It’s a reminder of former Japanese detention centres in the US during the WWII where the Japanese were detained because their country was at war with the US. If the principle is “a suspect is innocent until proven guilty”, the US should publish the other charges against the detainees apart from being caught in Afghanistan fighting for Bin Laden.
The US had better start their trial on its soil or in an international court. The world must know the specific charge of each detainee. Keeping them in detention without trial will just tarnish the image of the US, which set itself as the champion of human rights. Further suicide by the detainees should be prevented not to let their brothers in terror exploit it to their advantage and before rising voices from influential governments and humanitarian organisations for its definitive closure tarnish the image of the US as defiant of international agreements on human rights.
More suicide will cause more embarrassment and damage to the US, fuelling more suicide attacks in countries like Iraq and Afghanistan.

Dealing With Violence in Iraq , Afghanistan & the Palestinian Territories

Situation in Iraq
Iraqis had the hard luck of being in constant crises from the start of the Iran-Iraq War, the economic embargo following Kuwait invasion by Saddam. Their economic hardship has become coupled by continuous violence, which replaced Saddam’s repressive measures. Iraqi need security. Without it, any economic project like electricity or water pipes can be vandalised by insurgents or criminals.
The situation in Iraq is everybody’s responsibility. People in responsibility from top to bottom should have clean hands. All must do away with corruption and violence. The wealth of Iraq, especially, oil must equitably be shared by the Iraqis regardless of geographical situations. National security can be achieved through national trust between the different sections of Iraqi society. As Iraq is made of Shiva, Sunni and Kurds, these sections should have practical autonomy within national unity. But continuing to wrangle about the style of government indefinitely will make Iraq permanently unstable.
As we say, God helps he who helps himself. Iraqis can’t continue depending utterly on outside help – foreign forces for their security or the good intentions of their neighbours. They should have good intentions towards one another and defend their security as one nation.

Situation in Afghanistan
Afghanistan has been a difficult country to rule at least since the soviet invasion in the 80’s. Throughout those years of occupation, the Afghan were manipulated by foreign forces, mainly the Mujahidin under the military support of the US. After the withdrawal of the Russian and the dismantling of the Soviet Union, the Afghans were left under the rule of the Taliban who brought Afghanistan ages back, culturally and economically. So a whole generation of Afghans had little exposure to modern ways but to continuous fighting for leadership or the monopoly of drug trade. The US intervention after 9/11 did little to change the face of the whole of Afghanistan as more importance was given to particular regions like Kabul. The rest of the country kept its awkward pace in development. So it’s no wonder if there are riots – spontaneous or orchestrated -as different periods of rule – Soviet, Taliban, current American backed government – did little to make Afghanistan a stable country. It is enough to know it is one of the poorest countries with GNI per capita not exceeding US $400 where it is dangerous for foreigners to go about without being under escort.
So to fight the spread of terrorism from Afghanistan is to better the livelihood of ordinary afghan instead of letting them subject to runaway Taliban, drug lords and inefficient government that can’t survive a day without the protection of foreign forces.

PALESTINIAN TERRITORIES
The tragedy of the Palestinians is that they are at crossfire from all sides. After more than 50 years of resistance for independence, their leaders of different factions didn’t manage to come up with a national agreement of what political system they should have that preserve their unity and put them in a strong position to negotiate with the international community about the future state they should have. Isreal, which has a wide influence, especially, in Western Europe and the United States of America exploits this division to delay the setup of a Palestinian state. What has aggravated their cause is the coming of Hamas to power. But Hamas is powerless since it is not recognised by the US and Israel because of its refusal to recognise Isreal and its adopting terrorist attacks against it. This has led to the cut of help to the Palestinians, who unfortunately will continue to pay for the division between Fatah and Hamas and the refusal of Israel to recognise them as a people worthy of full independence. But the international community should consider the Palestinian territories as a disaster zone in view of the state in which it is now and send them humanitarian aid – for them not to fall in famine which can turn into a human catastrophe in the region.
Tuesday, 09 May 2006 23:19

Sex: Politics & Ethics

LOVE & POLITICS
Nothing can unite the Israeli and the Palestinians but mutual recognition and cooperation on all side. They have a long shared history with hate and love. Intermarriage can cement the relations between the two people as shared blood can attenuate hatred. But in view of the situation in Isreal and the Palestinian authorities, there is still mutual suspicion about the act of marriage between the two sides . Even the Muslim hardliners don’t like this kind of marriage due to the ancient feud they have with the Jews. The only thing that can eradicate this law is when the Jewish state becomes constitutionally secular. But as Judaism is the basis for Isreal laws, it can be hard to see an end to this act, especially, when there are Palestinian factions threatening to blow up Isreal off the world map and continuously planning attacks.
So this act is more politically than racially motivated. After all Arabs and Jews are Semitic. Only politics make them think and act differently.
Like religion and state that should be set apart, so should love and politics. Even married couples of the same race can have different political views and vote differently. In the case of mixed marriage in Israel, especially, between Palestinians and Israelis, the risk of terrorism shouldn’t be used as an excuse to stand between human relationships. Isreal has enough means to detect woul-be terrorists. On the contrary, lovers on both sides should be allowed to enjoy their passion without obstruction.
So Isreal by standing between genuine lovers from the Palestinians and Israelis sides is building another wall between them. Outlawing such relations is another form of its attempt of disengagement from Palestinian affairs. But people have the right to the pursuit of happiness. Love will make people peaceful. Standing in their relations makes them violent. So the law is groundlessly motivated. It is based on xenophobia and it can have the adverse effect in the long run.
Blog Wednesday, 17 May 2006 12:15

SEX AND AGE
The launching of a political party for allowing child pornography and bestiality is a threat to human values. Children should be trained to be mature adults and not to be exposed to sex when they need education in ethics. If such is allowed, we may in the future hear about preschools preparing children for prostitution at the age of 12. There can be calls for parents to marry their children or legally have sex with them. Children should be protected and not exposed to facts of life until they are old enough to decide for their sexual orientations. They should not be used for the sexual satisfaction of adults.
For bestiality, we may, in the future, hear calls to legalise marriage between humans and animals with the possibility of ceremonies taking place in church.
In short, this prospective party is calling for an all-out anarchy where there can be no notion or separation of right and wrong. Are the Dutch heading for a new brave world if the ideas of this party take a firm hold on their society?
Wednesday, 31 May 2006 13:53

GAY MARRIAGE
The US was founded on religious basis. There are incidences in which morality was a big issue, especially during the Prohibition era. Many presidential campaigns were based on the return to moral values. Bush is trying to establish moral values that are likely to be supported by the Right, which has been at odd with the liberals on many issues like abortion. So Pt Bush opposition to gay marriage is an attempt to revive conservative attitudes that seem to be eroding under the spread of liberal ones.
But even banning gay marriage can’t stop open gay relationship, especially, among influential stars who can set the example for gay rights. Gays still can have free relationship like heterosexuals who live together. But gay marriage practice is the natural consequence of the freedom enjoyed by gays so far. To ban homosexuality, which has led to gay marriage in some American states, is like trying to turn the clock back – before the birth of Pt Bush when gays couldn’t go public. It remains to see how convincing George Bush will be to win public and congressional support on this issue.
Tuesday, 06 June 2006 15:27

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