Sunday, October 14, 2007

Marines in Iraq see writing on the wall

"...before the Brits close the door behind them, someone else wants to leave too: the United States Marines, America's answer to ancient Greece's Spartan warriors.

According to a remarkable Wednesday article in The New York Times, the Marines have told the Joint Chiefs of Staff and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates that they'd much prefer to leave Iraq and go take over the fighting in Afghanistan from the U.S. Army, which has some 26,000 troops over there -- just about the same number as the 25,000 Marines currently mired in Iraq.

Very convenient. And very telling..."
"...He said the assault on the 300,000-population city Fallujah (the largest single battle the Marines fought in the war) was itself a war crime -- a collective punishment of a whole city for the butchering by insurgents based here of four American mercenaries earlier that year. Collective punishment -- a tactic routinely used by the Nazis in World War II -- was banned by the Nuremberg Charter, signed by the U.S., but was a stated reason for the leveling of Fallujah.

The UN Charter, the Geneva Conventions, and other laws aimed at making war less barbaric, mean nothing to this administration.

Such a war and such battle tactics are not what Marines, or what any decent human being, wants to be a part of. And yet, just looking at the death toll in Iraq -- over 1 million by one account, in a country of 24 million -- and a study by the Christian Science Monitor that showed the U.S. kill ratio, of enemy fighters to civilians to be 1:30, how can the Marines have avoided it?

Secretary Gates is trying to play down the Marines' proposal, but the very fact that it has been made should show how desperate the military in Iraq is becoming..." Full article...

Seeming to conform to all the traditional stereotypes

From The Jerusalem Post:

It's a list of "the world's most powerful people," 100 of the bankers and media moguls, publishers and image makers who shape the lives of billions. It's an exclusive, insular club, one whose influence stretches around the globe but is concentrated strategically in the highest corridors of power.

More than half its members, at least by one count, are Jewish.

It's a list, in other words, that would have made earlier generations of Jews jump out of their skins, calling attention, as it does, to their disproportionate influence in finance and the media. Making matters worse, in the eyes of many, would no doubt be the identity of the group behind the list - not a pack of fringe anti-Semites but one of the most mainstream, glamorous publications on the newsstands.

Yet the list doesn't appear to have generated concern so far, instead drawing expressions of satisfaction and pride from the lone Jewish commentator who's responded in writing.

Published between ads for Chanel and Prada, Dior and Yves Saint Laurent, it's the 2007 version of "The Vanity Fair 100," the glossy American magazine's annual October ranking of the planet's most important people. Populated by a Cohen and a Rothschild, a Bloomberg and a Perelman, the list would seem to conform to all the traditional stereotypes about areas of Jewish overrepresentation.

Joseph Aaron, the editor of The Chicago Jewish News, thinks it's a list his readers should "feel very, very good about."

"Talk about us being accepted into this society, talk about us having power in this society," Aaron wrote this week, in apparent reference to Jewish life in the United States. "Talk about anti-Semitism being a thing of the past, talk about Jews no longer needing to be afraid to be visible and influential."   Read full article...

Howard sees no cause for apology to Aborigines

"...Millions of Australians will never entertain saying sorry to Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders because they think there is nothing to apologise about, Prime Minister John Howard says.

Mr Howard has promised to hold a referendum within 18 months, if re-elected, on formally recognising indigenous Australians in the constitution.

Indigenous groups view the promise as a step in the right direction but say reconciliation will not be achieved unless Mr Howard apologises on behalf of non-indigenous Australians for past treatment..."

Read full article...

A role for the Eastern Orthodox Church in Europe

"...At the heart of much of the miscommunication between Russia and Europe today lies the unacknowledged and untapped longing of Orthodox Christians to be recognized as part of a common European cultural family again. The latest effort to bridge this divide was Russian Orthodox Patriarch Alexei II's remarks in France, where he spoke poignantly of how the Christian identity Europeans historically share should promote dialogue on issues like human rights and peace, even with atheists and members of other faiths.

The patriarch was pointing out that, while they may differ on specific political issues today, a profound religious bond actually underpins Western and Eastern European cultural and political values. Sadly, this common bond is rarely mentioned, in either Russia or the West. Today's Slavophile Russian nationalists seem uncomfortable recalling that, despite his uncompromising critique of Western secularism, their avatar Fyodor Dostoyevsky always regarded Europe as Russia's "mother" civilization.

In the West, this oversight has more to do with the fact that Catholic and Protestant Christianity have so often denied an equal voice to those who disagreed with them. In both instances, Orthodox Christianity is seen as part of the problem in East-West relations, instead of part of the solution, as it should be.

Western suspicion of Eastern Orthodoxy can be traced back to before the Great Schism that divided the Christian Church in 1054. One hundred and fifty years later, it fueled the Crusaders' zeal for the sacking of Constantinople. In the 18th century, it became a main theme of Edward Gibbon's influential interpretation of the Roman Empire, which was later echoed in the writings of Oswald Spengler and Arnold Toynbee. And in modern times, Samuel Huntington, among others, has warned direly of the potential for clashes between "Slavic-Orthodox" civilization and the Catholic-Protestant West..."    Read full article...

 

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