What’s the use of history?Does it tell the truth?

President Dmitry Medvedev recently announced the setting up of a commission to counter the falsification of history. He said this was becoming increasingly “severe, evil, and aggressive”.

The Second World War has somewhat redefined the political landscape of Europe with the emergence of new countries like East Germany and the prevailing Cold War which was an era of mutual suspicion between the Capitalist and the communist blocs. The lessons learnt from WWII is that differences should be settled diplomatically through cooperation and integration instead of coming to a bloody conflict culminating in millions of deaths and irreparable damages.

There was a case reported by Alistair Cook in his famous “Letter from America”. In the USA, a teacher asked his student who were US allies in WWII. His reply was they were Germany and Japan. After WWII, sworn enemies became close friends. France and Germany became closer after their bloody wars from German unification in 1871 going through the WWI and WWII. People in Europe feel more European through concrete actions like the EU.

Each country’s history is written according to an ideology. Each regime tries to depict it as it sees fit. There is the official line which tries to justify an action in the past. There is the example of Turkey which still categorically denies any genocide in Armenia and no Turkish historian can publicly say the contrary without being prosecuted.

It can be difficult for a country to protect its history totally as long as there are controversial sides in it which are seen from a different prospective. There isn’t a single version of a major historical event. What is seen by some an act of defence is seen by others as aggression.

There always remains a dark side in the recent history of many countries as long as it is enshrouded with secrecy or there is the absence of hard evidence .So it remains open to different interpretations rightly or wrongly.

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Was the welcome for Al-Mergahi offensive?

The Libyan man jailed in Scotland for blowing up a US airliner over Lockerbie in 1988 has returned to his home in Libya  after being set free. This sparked angry reactions among the relatives of the victims of PAN-AM flight as well as from different political figures

The release of Abdel Baset Al-Megrahi is the best gift for Colonel Gaddafi who is going to celebrate his 40th year in power. (He came to power on September 1st, 1969).

 Actually, as the bereaved have the right to vent anger at his release, the Libyans also have the right to express joy for the release of their countryman. Some expected a subdued return. But from the start his release was spectacular as he was returned to Libya on Gaddafi’s private plane which was allowed to land on Scotland.

 From the start, it was said that he was going to Libya to meet his family. In the Libyan context, all the Libyans are his family. After all, it seems ridiculous to give importance to the welcome Abdel Baset Al-Megrahi received when his conviction has become a closed chapter. Now, he is a free man and the Libyans are free to reserve him whatever welcome they consider as fit.

The release of Abdel Baset Al-Megrahi was a golden handshake for the Libyan regime. It is the reward for what had been going behind the scenes. It was a kind of give-and-take arrangement. So why should the jubilant popular celebration in Libya be seen a slap in the face of the world? It is like being angry at a person receiving pardon for a (heinous) crime and going to a pub to celebrate his release with his friends.

Was it right to release the convicted Lockerbie bomber?

The convicted Lockerbie bomber has been flown home  to Libya after being freed from a Scottish prison on compassionate grounds. Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi, 57, was jailed in 2001 for the atrocity which claimed 270 lives in 1988.  

 Abdel Baset Al-Megrahi was just an instrument in the Lockerbie affair. He was used to carry out the bombing, and then he was surrendered by Libya to stand trial in favour of normalizing its relations with the West. Now he is going to be released not to allow the relations between Libya and UK turn sour.

 His release is a compromise for the two parties. For face-saving, he served his incomplete sentence in Scotland and he is going to die in Libya. Very few people would look back at his death if he died in prison. Politicians will have to look forward. The USA killed more than 200,000 Japanese through its nuclear bomb during the Second World War. The two countries had to go ahead. Libya allegedly killed 270 people. It offered compensations for their relatives. Now, it is going to offer lucrative investments to the UK. That is the cynical aspect of politics.

 The question is not whether it is right or wrong to release the Lockerbie bomber, but what is the right thing to do, to miss out on economic opportunities or to keep relations between UK and Libya a hostage of people who died and a bomber who’s going to die. In politics, generally, there are not feeling but high interests.

 

Maybe the relief for those who oppose his release is that he will die soon and with him will be buried a sad chapter. Life has to go on for those who survived the Lockerbie victims.

Does America need to treat visitors with more respect?

Shah Rukh Khan was detained at Newark airport in New Jersey for between 1-2 hours, he was only released when the Indian embassy got involved, and he’s made it pretty clear he was less than impressed with his treatment.

AP reports that US Bureau of Customs and Border Protection is saying it was part of routine screening.

 The US shouldn’t become xenophobic and paranoiac due to 9/11 attacks. Visitors shouldn’t be suspected just because of their look or name. They too should get ready for any treatment they can receive in the land of the free as long as they are willing to be there.

 The US is already imposing draconian measures on nationals from different Arab and Muslim countries. It warns its nationals, from time to time ,not to visit certain countries only if it is imperatives. People wishing to visit the USA who feel they can be subjected to “humiliating” screening” shouldn’t come unless it is imperative. For tourism, there are many breath-taking areas around the world where visitors are welcome as long as they have valid travelling documents.

The US has the right to open or close its doors to whomever it wants. People who are sensitive about their dignity should avoid it as long as they feel unwelcome.

 Last year, a former Moroccan minister who is also a close friend of the King of Morocco was detained at Charle De Gaulle airport because he was travelling with an ordinary passport. When he told the custom officers who he was, they grew even more suspicious of him. It was only when he contacted the Moroccan embassy that they released him and subsequently received an apology  from the French interior minister.

 There was also the story of a Moroccan baby who was refused entry to the USA two years ago because of the name he bore was on the watch-list. It was only after legal action that he was allowed to join his Moroccan parents.

 In short, there are curious and nasty incidents not only in US airports but in others in so many countries around the world.

Should the Lockerbie bomber be freed on compassionate grounds?

Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi, the man convicted of the 1988 Lockerbie plane bombing, is expected to be released on compassionate grounds.

 Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi was only a scapegoat because the attack was planned and financed by the Libyan regime. The victims were compensated and the affair is closed at the diplomatic level. Now Libya has normal relations with the US and UK.

Ali al-Megrahi’s sentence now should be his terminal illness which is in a way a “divine” punishment. He can be freed from prison. But it’s unlikely that he can be freed from his illness.

 Criminals, if they act with intent and give a bad example for their acts, should serve their full sentence if their crimes cause great damage to individuals and society.

As the law is meant to be applied, compassion shouldn’t rule over objective judgement. Fair judgement means the criminal has exhausted all the legal procedures and the punishment fits the crime.

 In the case of a collective crime, it doesn’t make sense to punish an individual on behalf of the rest of the group that is left free. The case of the Libyan agent, Ali Mohmet al-Megrahi, is a case in point. He wasn’t alone in the terror act. A whole regime was behind him. He was a scapegoat for political reasons. It is known that war criminals are those who give orders for cruel crimes, not soldiers who are rarely tried. Ali Mohmet al-Megrahi was just a “soldier” carrying the orders of his “generals” in Libya. It seems absurd that a case of this magnitude should be close by compensating the relatives of the victims and surrendering a Libyan agent. This was done for political convenience, but on the face of it, it remains absurd.

  Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi should be freed. He was a mere instrument throughout the process of the Lockerbie attack. The Libyan regime used him for the attack, and then surrendered him to the British authorities as a step for normalizing its relations with the West. The fiasco shouldn’t continue. Ali al-Megrahi should be returned to his country.

Should the US military operate out of foreign countries?

Colombia’s planning to do what Ecuador decided it wouldn’t, and allow America access to the facilities at some of its military bases. Unsurprisingly, next door in Venezuela, the plan has gone down with Hugo Chavez about as well as a dinner to celebrate the Bush presidency.

 

Morocco is a close ally of the US. It has been given the status of non-NATO ally by Washington, which has praised its support for the US-led war on terror. So far it has no military basis in the country. The two countries have regular military manoeuvres.

It is still a sensitive issue in Morocco for the US to have a military base or to operate out of it. The majority of the Moroccans will view this as a kind of being servile to the US military at the expense of Morocco’s sovereignty.

 

Morocco is one of the countries faced with the danger of terrorism. Geographically, it is close to the areas where terrorists networks are operating, especially in the African Sahara. A joint military operation can be acceptable if it benefits the two countries. But it will be unacceptable for Morocco to be a land from which the US military operates for its own interests, leaving it to put up with the consequences at home and abroad.

 

There are many countries that need US military presence for their protection and survival. Gulf States, because of their huge wealth and relatively small native populations, need US presence to protect them from invasion. Kuwait would have become part of Iraq if the coalition forces -led by the USA -hadn’t intervened to free it by operating from Saudi Arabia.

 

Bahrain would have become a part of Iran if half of its territory wasn’t a military zone where the US have a military presence. The biggest US military base in the Middle East is in Qatar. Maybe, it will be replaced by Iraq where there are over 120,000 US soldiers. Without these bases, the US military would have great difficulties shipping its forces and equipments inside Iraq.

 

In short some countries have to accept the US military presence -for manoeuvre and operations- to ward off the domination of a neighbour country. Bahrain, for example, is more than happy to be a close ally of the US, giving it all military facilities, than become a simple a province of Iran.

Should Bill Clinton have gone to North Korea for the release of two US reporters?

Two US journalists detained in North Korea and sentenced to 12 years of hard labour have been pardoned after former US President Bill Clinton visited North Korean leader Kim Jong-il to ask for their release.
Laura Ling and Euna Lee had been found guilty of entering illegally in March.

Bill Clinton was the most positioned US politician to secure the release of the two American journalists thanks to his negotiating skills. His mission was a face-saving for both the US and North Korea. NK tried to look as peace loving country. The US didn’t send an official from Obama administration. This could have been interpreted as making concessions to NK, at least in the form of “secret” economic aid.

But it seems the great beneficiary from this release is Bill Clinton’s wife, the Secretary of State. He must have saved her a lot of diplomatic efforts. Now she can concentrate on more urgent topics like Iran nuclear programme.

Now I can imagine Bill Clinton telling his wife, ” I did you a favour by securing the release of the two journalists. Will you return it by never reminding me again of Monica Lewinsky when you get in one of your bad tempers?”

Are mobile phones damaging children’s sexual development?

A worrying number of teenagers are swapping intimate or sexually explicit photos, called “sexts”, on their mobiles, police say.

Sexual communication online and on mobiles isn’t new. There are many people, including teenagers, who use the webcam to send sexually expletive images of themselves. The mobile photos and videos have made it more easy for anyone to establish sexual communication.

Concerning sexting among children , it can be damaging to them. Children need sexual education to abstain from sex or to have safe sex when they’re above 16. However, sexting can expose them to more sexual risks as they can view themselves as sexual objects and the way to impose themselves is by projecting themselves as sexually desirable.

In schools, for example, as a result of sexting, children can have just sex as their main gossip , not just by words but also by showing images. As children aren’t allowed to be seen in indecent positions in public, it goes without saying it is damaging for them to have their bodies revealed to strangers and the object of sexual comments. Maybe, they must be told they can reveal their bodies to their trusted friends who can see them directly and not to be sent as an image that can be seen by anyone. The beholder can keep the pictures in their head instead of their mobile phone!

Does any graduate have the right to a job?

Morocco has been the scene of protests by unemployed graduates in front of the parliament. These scenes have become a common sight for more than ten years. The graduates’ demand is to get a job in the public sector as working in the private sector isn’t a guarantee of a job for life.

In the case of Morocco, although graduates get a free education at state universities, they still feel it their right to be secured a job. The problem is that many of them have degrees that don’t fit the market. Many of them are offered to work in the education sector.

In the case of poor graduates, they have the right to get a job as they spent their years of study in material hardship for a better future only to be confronted with joblessness.

However, graduates should be realistic when training or taking a course for a degree. They should bear in mind that there could be a fifty-fifty chance that they can get the job they desire and for which they have invested so much money, effort and time.

They should take into consideration that the market can look different between the moment they set foot in a college and the time they graduate. Their degrees can be worthless in view of the economic crisis that can affect their country.

In general, the current economic downturn worldwide has so much to do with the unemployment of graduates. Who knows, when the economy improve there will be demand for their skills.