Left Coast Voices

"I would hurl words into the darkness and wait for an echo. If an echo sounded, no matter how faintly, I would send other words to tell, to march, to fight." Richard Wright, American Hunger

Archive for the tag “war machine”

Crossing The Line

I realize that this post is not going to sit well with the audience of Left Coast Voices, and Roger, who already pointed towards the fact that big business is probably salivating at the prospect of making big bucks from another war, presents a scary scenario of those most motivated to crank up the war machine.

I get it and I am pretty sure he is right. But I am not sure that is reason enough to prevent intervention to not step in and stop the Syrian dictatorship from using chemical weapons again on anyone.

In the 1990’s I walked around with a gas mask in Tel Aviv, sealed up a room, participated in the drills, and sat in a shelter wondering if my family and friends were alright – if the missiles landing around us were regular scud missiles or tipped with chemicals.

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As a soldier, I trained with gas mask and in gas released scenarios. I will never forget the labored breathing and the sweat that gathered on the gas mask making it so difficult to see. I remember the sarcastic jokes – no wonder Darth Vader turned to the dark side!

I am not even sure I believe in the – It’s an internal matter, we shouldn’t get involved – excuse. Countries are very artificial entities, especially those carved out by colonialist interests. But people are human beings, whether Syrians, Afghans, Africans or Tibetans. The only thing that seems to differentiate is who sits in a country with oil.

With regard to Syria, I’m not even convinced that the line was not crossed long before the chemical attack.

But I’m also astounded at the United Nations. How we find ourselves in a situation whereby the world movement refuses to do anything but shake its head and wag a finger is beyond me. If the world expects America to police the world, a frightening prospect, why are we pumping money into the United Nations? If the US were to pull out, would the United Nations even exist?

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Brett D. Schaefer, the Jay Kingham Fellow in International Regulatory Affairs at Heritage’s Margaret Thatcher Center for Freedom claims that “the U.S. is currently assessed 22 percent of the U.N. regular budget and more than 27 percent of the U.N. peacekeeping budget” – source. If chemical warfare is a red line that has been crossed why is the US not giving 22% of a UN coalition?

Finally, the fact that President Obama felt he needed more than one man (namely himself) to makes the decision whether the US would strike Syria should not be construed as weakness … rather it is DEMOCRACY. I’m not sure how many 2nd-term presidents would take such a step. I doubt many and I support the President and his decision.

I care less for countries and more for the people who live in them. No one should have to live through a war, whether internal or not. If we truly treasure our freedom, we must understand that we are never free while others are not.

At what point in a war has a country (or faction) crossed the line? Probably when the first bullet is fired. What is clear: once you have fired chemical weapons, you are way past the line and must be stopped.

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Alon Shalev is the author of the 2013 Eric Hoffer YA Book Award winner, At The Walls of Galbrieth, Wycaan Master Book 1 and The First Decree, both released by Tourmaline Books. Ashbar – Book 3 – is due for release in October 2013. Shalev is also the author of three social justice-themed novels including Unwanted Heroes. He swears there is a connection. More at http://www.alonshalev.com and on Twitter (@elfwriter).

And the Winner Is… Syria! – Tom Rossi

Ryan Seacrest: “And the winner of this year’s Trumped-Up Bullshit Justification for War Award is… Syria! (applause) Here to present the award is well-known fake journalist, Sean Hannity.”

 Hannity: “Congratulations, Syria, on this accomplishment. The question on everyone’s mind is, how did you manage to beat out perennial front-runner Iran?”

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 Syria: “Well, I thought I’d just lay low for a while, then make my move when the other countries got overconfident. Iran had been ‘phoning it in’ for quite a while, riding on its reputation. Iran just started to assume it had the award in the bag. Iran didn’t push through the finish line.”

 Hannity: “Wow. That’s a lesson for young people… and young nations everywhere.”

 Syria: “I like to set a good example.”

 Hannity: “So, how did you manage to overcome the Iraq ‘problem,’ as it has come to be known?”

 Syria: “Uh, by that do you mean the inevitable comparisons with the famous Iraq quagmire? Well, a famous American jazz musician once said, ‘…it’s the notes you DON’T play that are important.’ I paid heed to this advice and didn’t try too hard. I just let the American War… I mean, media machine, do the work for me. They did a beautiful job and I certainly owe half this award to them.”

 Hannity: “Well, speaking for everyone, as I often do, thank you. But could you expand on just how the war… I mean, media machine, helped you in your quest to become the most focused-on ‘rogue nation’ in the world?”

 Syria: “Certainly. They used a… how you say in America… ‘tried and true’ method. They simply repeated, or featured interviews with ‘respected’ officials like John McCain who repeated a sort of mantra – ‘It’s nothing like Iraq. It’s nothing like Iraq. It’s nothing like Iraq.'”

 Hannity: “So, you learned from, well… Iraq!”

 Syria: “Exactly! In the drum-up… er… I mean, lead-up, to the Iraq war, I believe President Bush named it, ‘Operation Iraqi Freedom,’ right? During this period, we saw the same comparisons to America’s most famous quagmire, Vietnam. But the American people were simply told, over and over again, how terrible was Saddam Hussein. Then, they started to forget, or simply not to care. But that was much easier. Decades had passed since the Vietnamese conflict – decades of opportunity for the ridicule of the anti-war protesters. Iraq was still a raw memory in the minds of Americans. And, like Iraq, Syria is a desert country. Is it ‘desert,’ or ‘dessert’? I always forget! Ha ha! Anyhoo, even though it had only been ten years, people forgot the propaganda campaign for Iraq. The U.S. government and media repeated exactly the same lines! Can you believe that? People had forgotten the whole thing. And Syria was there to capitalize. That’s what people don’t understand – good preparation makes good luck. If you prepare, you will be ready when the opportunity arises for greatness.”

 Hannity: “Another gem for young Americans. Are you looking forward to the bombings?”

 Syria: “Who wouldn’t be? Hahaha!”

 Hannity chortles.

 Syria: “No, I kid, I kid. That part of it is, how you say… hit or miss?”

 Hannity laughs.

 Syria: “That’s just a part of this process. Syria accepts its role on the world stage, the good, the bad, and the unholy.”

 Hannity: “Ha! You’ve exposed my long hidden sense of humor! Certain people over at ‘The Daily Show’ will certainly be taken by surprise. Thank you, Syria! Enjoy your award. Let’s give the stage back to Ryan Seacrest.”

 Syria: “Thank you so much!” (blowing kisses to the audience)

 Ryan Seacrest: “Isn’t Syria delightful? Next up, after the commercial break, the award for ‘Most Maligned Leader of a Non-Muslim Country. Stick around, everybody!”

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 -Tom Rossi

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Tom Rossi is a commentator on politics and social issues. He is a Ph.D. student in International Sustainable Development, concentrating in natural resource and economic policy. Tom greatly enjoys a hearty debate, especially over a hearty pint of Guinness.

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McDonald’s: Diet for a Bankrupt America

Jon Stewart and the Daily Show couldn’t resist a dig at San Francisco in their first show of the year (Monday, 03. January 2011).

I can rarely resist a dig at McDonald’s. I didn’t here, or here, and couldn’t help mentioning this about San Francisco legislation to force McDonald’s to raise the nutritional value of their children-directed Happy Meals or face a ban on toys being included to induce children to pressure their parents to eat at the Golden Arches.

Hans Bader takes an opposite stance in this article attacking the legislation and sharing his disdain about the Californiazation of America. I will leave it to you to read my post and Hans’ perspective.

What I want to focus this blog on is the feeling that there are probably three main areas where we can pull ourselves out of the recession and into a competitive 21st Century economy.

The first concerns the war machine – the need to be constantly subsidizing a war somewhere. This feels the most complicated and I am going to skip it for this post at least. The second regards sustainable energy and possibly will help solve the first as a not-so-fringe benefit.

However what is relevant for this blog post is the feeling that we simply cannot afford bad health and this will always begin with nutrition. There is a $1 trillion-dollar health (or rather sickness) industry and it is, for the main part, possible to tackle.

We can do this by focusing on the lifestyle and diet we adopt. Now I don’t want to change this great country to a bunch of Tai-Chi loving vegans (actually, to be perfectly honest, I do), but it just seems that food that is nutritionally devoid of anything of worth might be cheap in the short run, but is bankrupting us in the long run.

Not only is this a sick nation, but sickness leads to a lack of productivity and creativity, and these are the resources we need to rebuild America. For a great overview of the sickness industry and an optimistic look into the future, try Paul Zane Pilzer’s The Next Trillion.

There is hope. There is always hope – if not for us, then for our children, but not if they learn about health and values from Ronald McDonald.

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Alon Shalev is the author of The Accidental Activist (now available on Kindle) and A Gardener’s Tale. He is the Executive Director of the San Francisco Hillel Foundation, a non-profit that provides spiritual and social justice opportunities to Jewish students in the Bay Area. More on Alon Shalev at www.alonshalev.com

 

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