Politics

A Kinder, Gentler Extraordinary Rendition

By Adrian Duyzer
Published December 02, 2010

Leaked diplomatic cables obtained by the National Post reveal that American diplomats are upset with Canadian television portrayals of US security and intelligence officials, reports the Toronto Star.

Citing a Canadian "inferiority complex" and an "Alice in Wonderland" world view, the cables contain complaints that Canadian TV portrays "American security officials as unyielding, faceless thugs with dubious morals and scant respect for international law".

The second cable deals with American stereotypes on CBC television shows, including one episode of the border that deals with CIA rendition flights which spirit terror suspects off to countries that practice torture for deep interrogation.

This is a peculiar complaint, given that we're all well aware of the US policy of "extraordinary rendition". The CIA does, in fact, ship terrorism suspects and "unlawful enemy combatants" to prisons in countries outside of US legal jurisdiction, where they are subsequently interrogated using harsh techniques and even tortured.

But the problem US officials have is the way this is portrayed.

Apparently they would prefer it if Canadian television showed a kinder, gentler form of extraordinary rendition. Perhaps actors could portray caring security operatives whose only concern is the comfort and wellbeing of the people they're hooding and shipping off for interrogation in a secret prison in Syria or the brig of some ship.

Then again, fiction is usually more compelling when it has the ring of truth.

Adrian Duyzer is an entrepreneur, business owner, and Associate Editor of Raise the Hammer. He lives in downtown Hamilton with his family. On Twitter: adriandz

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By Michelle Martin (registered) - website | Posted December 02, 2010 at 08:31:10

Just read in the Globe that the episode of The Border in question was mostly written by an American writer.

Comment edited by Michelle Martin on 2010-12-02 07:31:42

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By mrjanitor (registered) | Posted December 02, 2010 at 08:48:17

That is a very American complaint; it's all about optics, not about what is really going on.

I always notice when something comes out on Wikileaks the American government is angry about how the documentation of their actions looks to others while never answering as to why they were doing what was documented.

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By Funnythat (anonymous) | Posted December 02, 2010 at 10:22:56

It's funny...The Americans are angry at the portrayal of their country in our press? How about the numerous times American media have propagated the false idea that Canada has a porous border and that the 9/11 hijackers came from Canada. I even recall a West Wing episode where the whole plot was about stopping terrorists from crossing the "Ontario-Vermont" border - never mind the fact that there isn't an Ontario-Vermont border; American ignorance extends beyond geography.

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted December 02, 2010 at 16:03:23

@Funnythat

I tend to assume the "Ontario-Vermont" border was more a tongue-in-cheek joke. You know, a fake location like Springfield.

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By JonC (registered) | Posted December 02, 2010 at 22:43:11

I believe Springfield was used as it is the most common city name in the States (I believe 30 something instances).

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By Undustrial (registered) - website | Posted December 03, 2010 at 01:33:48

Ya have to remember, it's not about torture, imperialism, corruption, or poverty, it's about "Anti-Americanism". People who hate America because of the freedom it stands for, like Osama Bin Ladin or Noam Chomsky.

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By Shempatolla (registered) - website | Posted December 03, 2010 at 18:04:15

Typically smug of Canadians to obliviously bask in the freedom and security provided to us by the shade of the Eagle's wings and then pass judgement on how it is provided. Maybe some of you would prefer to live beside oh I don't know Iran?, North Korea maybe?

Comment edited by Shempatolla on 2010-12-03 17:09:54

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted December 03, 2010 at 18:58:09

The fact that Canadians benefit from partnership with the USA confers on us a moral duty to ensure that no one is denied their basic freedoms under the pretenses of protecting ours.

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By Shempatolla (registered) - website | Posted December 03, 2010 at 19:43:03

That's tripe Ryan. The fact is Canada has been getting a free ride on the freedom train for decades because successive Canadian governments and particularly Prime Ministers, especially Lester Pearson and Pierre Elliot Trudeau despised and distrusted the military and took every opportunity to slash defence budgets in this country and fund their pet social projects on the back of and at the expense of a reasonable, rational and effective effort at ensuring the sovereignty and security of this nation.

They did so deliberately knowing the US had no option but to pull up the slack. Do you honestly think we got into peacekeeping because it was a just and noble cause? IT WAS BECAUSE IT WAS CHEAP. It isn't cheap anymore and guess what? We aren't doing it anymore. It is only since 911 that our armed forces have received anything close to a reasonable budget for a wealthy western democracy which is around 2% of GDP, and we haven't hit that yet.

To then hide behind platitudes like "moral obligation" to justify the fact that we receive an inordinate benefit from our biggest ally, benefactor and trading partner and yet collectively look down our noses at them because they are willing to do the dirty business of making sure that we can all sleep soundly in our beds at night is quite frankly disgusting to me.

The Americans are far more transparent and open with their intentions and actions when it comes to bad guys than our own government is. As we speak JTF 2, and SOFCOM units of the Canadian Forces are in Afghanistan killing bad guys. Mostly covertly and in ways that you and I will never hear about and would probably find distasteful I am not losing any sleep over it.

WE SLEEP SOUNDLY IN OUR BEDS BECAUSE ROUGH MEN STAND READY IN THE NIGHT PREPARED TO VISIT VIOLENCE ON THOSE THINGS AND PEOPLE THAT WOULD DO US HARM.

We seem to have forgotten that in our Twitter, You Tube, Facebook, I'm ok you're ok world.

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted December 03, 2010 at 20:14:23

The fact is Canada has been getting a free ride on the freedom train for decades

The facts do not support your claim.

Using 2003 military budget data, Canada has the sixth highest defence budget in NATO. Per capita military spending in Canada is 1.4 times the NATO average (and 1.63 times the NATO average excluding the USA, which singlehandedly makes up 50% of total global military spending). I note further that Canadian military spending has increased around 50% in real terms since 2003.

Comment edited by administrator Ryan on 2010-12-03 19:14:49

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By Shempatolla (registered) - website | Posted December 03, 2010 at 21:00:04

Ryan. Pure dollars is the most misleading form of representation of defence spending. The more telling figure is a percentage of GDP. In Gross dollars in 2009 Canada spent 20,564,000 on national defence which placed us 13th overall in spending. But as a percentage of GDP we only spend 1.3 per cent which puts us well down the list both in NATO and globally. These figures are from SIPRI the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.

While the defence budget grew by 50% since 2003 that was out of necessity after decades of neglect by successive Liberal governments which cancelled program after program and allowed are Air Force, Army and Navy to approach rust out and suffer a huge degradation of capability. The bulk of those increases in spending were covered by only a few major programs. C-17 airlifters, C-130 J tactical airlifters, CH-147 Chinook heavy lift helicopters. Immediate operational requirement purchases for Afghanistan were necessitated by the fact that another Liberal government committed our army to a combat mission on the ground without the proper equipment to do the job. In eight years that equipment is now mostly worn out and needs to be replace again.

The figures you cite are also scewed by the fact that Canada occupies the second largest national land mass in the world. It costs more money for us to ensure and enforce our sovereignty and security simply because of scale. Our aircraft and ships burn more fuel, have to travel farther, and in more inhospitable conditions than most other nations.

Until we reach and sustain 2% of GDP on defence spending, arrive at a more rational, timely and efficient procurement system and recruit, train and retain personnel at sufficient numbers to do the jobs we require of them, we will not be in a position as a country to pass judgement on the country that provides us with the security we enjoy.

I will be the first one to criticize elements of US diplomacy and foreign policy when we do so. But I am not going to suck and blow at the same time when I know full well our neighbour is watching out for us.

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By mrjanitor (registered) | Posted December 04, 2010 at 20:14:11

Check out antiwar.com

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By Shempatolla (registered) - website | Posted December 04, 2010 at 22:32:41

Nothing new there. Google Neville Chamberlain and the phrase Peace in Our Time. That worked out real well didn't it? A little party called World War II followed shortly.

Pacifism, and appeasement have been around since the first dude that sharpened a stick into a spear and decided he wanted his neighbours goat. The guy with the goat figured if he just talked to buddy with the spear and reasoned with him things would be ok. He ended up with the spear sticking out of his gut and was now minus one goat. It took a while but the other neighbours soon figured out that if they wanted to keep their goats, they better sharpen some sticks of their own and be prepared to use them.

I find it amusing to read the vitriol and hyperbole of sites like this(anti-war.com) and movements that support them. They rail against their own governments (which are always western democracies) as being "imperialistic" and under the thumb of the "military industrial complex" and controled by "big oil". The irony is completely lost on them that the only reason they can spew such garbage is that they live in a society in which an entire generation sacrificed their youth so that they may have the liberty that they do. They are usually upper middle class "educated" professional protesters who have never lived a day under duress or desperation in their lives. They speak as if they have some kind of in depth knowledge of world affairs when in fact they don't know their asses from a hole in the ground.

There are bad people in the world. They don't reside in the offices of power in Washington or Ottawa or London or Paris or Berlin. Our societies are not perfect. But they are the closest thing to it on this planet. If that wasn't the case people wouldn't be cramming themselves by the hundreds on to garbage scows and sailing across oceans for months at a time at great peril to get here.

Bad people need to be confronted and held to account and if necessary dispatched. Harsh yes, but the truth none the less. Around 65 million people died between 1939 and 1945 in order for us to learn that lesson. The pacifists and appeasers were in charge when that started. They had an opportunity in 1938 to put Hitler in his place. They caved and turned tail and ran. That gave ole Adolph all the encouragement he needed. Less than a year later Poland was burning and the rest is history.

Yep, lets just hold hands and sing a few choruses of Kumbaya. It'll all be ok.

Comment edited by Shempatolla on 2010-12-04 21:37:13

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By Undustrial (registered) - website | Posted December 06, 2010 at 00:49:27

Neville Chamberlain wasn't a pacifist. His opposition to Allied intervention in Nazi Germany wasn't based on high-minded ideals of peace. He, along with a good chunk of the American, British and French governments figured that Hitler would deal with Russia. And as most of the first year of the year (the "sitzkrieg" on the French front) was fought mainly on the Eastern front, they figured Hitler had the whole "communism" thing settled. And if we're going to be honest about who "won" that war, Stalin's communist forces played at least as large a role as the rest of the Allies combined. Would this be a plausible reason to support the Russian invasion of Afghanistan?

Those horrible leftists who oppose our current war were flocking in droves, illegally, from nations like Canada to the anti-fascist fronts of the Spanish Civil War in 1938 long before the Brits or Canadians engaged the Germans in battle. We canucks had our own battalion - the Mac-Paps (Mackenzie-Papineau), and they were recruited mainly through Union halls, the CCF (which later became the NDP) and the Communist party. Orwell, Hemingway and Picasso were a few of the passionate voices over this war. They returned to Canada after losing that war (Spain remained Fascist with US backing into the 1970s) expecting to go to jail. Instead, the federal agents who met them sought help, as they were the first of our nation to have engaged German Blitzkrieg in battle. This history, by the way, comes from a veteran speaking at an NDP event I was at.

To relate our current imperialistic misadventures in Iraq and Afghanistan to the fight against Hitler and Mussolini is like insultingly inaccurate to say the least.

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By Tnt (registered) | Posted December 06, 2010 at 07:58:32

The above pro war comments really seem lifted from Jack Nicholsons character in A Few Good Men: I would prefer you just said thank you and went on your way.

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By nobrainer (registered) | Posted December 06, 2010 at 08:41:14

War mongers CAN'T HANDLE THE TRUTH about the crimes against humanity that get committed in the name of protecting our "freedom".

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By Shempatolla (registered) - website | Posted December 07, 2010 at 00:27:39

Stalin was not really on the west's mind I'm sorry to say. The Soviet Union was still somewhat of a mystery to the west. Communism was viewed as more of a social threat than any fear of a RED WAVE coming out of Moscow. In Spain, both the Germans and Soviets used the civil war there as a testing ground for new weapons and tactics. The Soviets had an ideological interest in exporting their beliefs but were not prepared to enter a war over it. Chamberlain's and Dalardiers reticence to deal with Hitler and Mussolini was based more on their belief that both of the dictators had limited aims and would soon be satisfied. They did nothing when Mussolini invaded Abyssinia (Ethiopia and Eritrea) in 1934.

1936 : In violation of the Treaty of Versailles (which ended WWI) Hitler remilitarizes the Rhineland which borders France. The French Army does nothing, protests at the League of Nations (UN) fall on deaf ears.(Sound familiar ?)

March 1938: Hitler, now emboldened orchestrates the Anschluss. The annexation of Austria into The Third Reich. (Another Treaty violation) Again, Chamberlain and Dalardier do nothing.

August 1938: Hitler now foments unrest in ethnically German Sudaten region in Czecheslovakia. He demands these lands be ceded to Germany or he threatens war. The Munich Conference is convened. Basically what transpires here is Chamerlain, Dalardier and Hitler carve up Czecheslovakia so they don't have to go to war. Chamberlain returns to Britain proclaiming "Peace in Our Time.

Early 1939. Hitler starts making demands of Poland over the open city of Danzig (Gdansk). Chamberlain and Lord Halifax sign a treaty with Poland guaranteeing their independence should Hitler become an aggressor. In private they urge the Poles to give up Gdansk.

August 23,1939. The Molotov -Von Ribbentrop Agreement is signed between Germany and the Soviet Union which is a Non Aggression Pact. which also agrees to divide Poland in two. This was done in secret unknown to Britain or France.

September 1, 1939 Hitler invades Poland. On September 3 Britain and France declare war on Germany and do exactly nothing.

"The Sitzkrieg" is a term coined by Churchill to describe the period on the continent after the fall of Poland when there was no fighting going on AT ALL NEVER MIND THE NON EXISTENT EASTERN FRONT but a state of war existed. This lasted until the spring of 1940 when Hitler turned west and invaded and over ran France, culminating in the evacuation at Dunkirk of the British Army and what remained of the French Army.

November 1940: Neville Chamberlain dies, depressed and distraught.

Germany and the Soviet Union are still technically allies at this time. A fact that is not altered until the summer of 1941 when Hitler does another 180 and invades Russia.

@nobrainer

who is a warmonger? Where in anything I have said, have I advocated war? I am a veteran who has served my country. I am very aware of what is at stake in conflict. My position is that if you don't want to fight in one, the best way to make sure that happens is prepare for one. And unfortuneately sometimes you have to walk the walk. History as you can see is repleat with examples of what happens when we ignore this lesson.

As for crimes against humanity... are you as vocal about Kim Jong Il starving his people so that he can build nuclear weapons? Or how about Karadzic's genocide in the Balkans? The "ethnic cleansing " of Kosovo? Or how about Ol' Saddam using chemical weapons to massacre 37000 people? Or do you reserve your disdain and judgement only when there are Stars and Stripes or a Maple Leaf involved in the fighting?

I did not intend this thread to become a historical or philosophical debate, it doesn't really have much to do with Hamilton. I'm happy to any time any where with any one. But I would rather Ryan have his site used for its intended purpose.

Comment edited by Shempatolla on 2010-12-06 23:37:41

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By Mr. Meister (anonymous) | Posted December 07, 2010 at 01:33:51

Shempatolla - Thank you. For trying to give so many of the regulars here a little history lesson. For putting your butt on the line for all the rest of us. As someone who has spent a fair bit of time reading about WWII I was outraged at some of the comments that were being represented as facts.

Again another thread where the nonsense knows no bounds or limits. There are way too many regulars here who just have no idea. No idea about our history (the good, the bad and the indifferent), and Canada has its fair share of all 3. Unfortunately most of the bad and indifferent has been committed by the very top of our military and by the government which has reflected so poorly on out military the world over.

Thank you Shempatolla and keep up the good work.

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By Undustrial (registered) - website | Posted December 07, 2010 at 14:44:07

If the allies were so unconcerned about Moscow, then why were volunteer troops sent shortly after the formation of the Soviet government in the 1920s? This fear only deepened, especially because of the relative Russian prosperity during the depths of the Great Depression in the west, and fears that Russian agents were stirring labour unrest were rampant. The fact that Chamberlain, a conservative businessman, was an ardent anti-communist and saw Hitler as a "lesser evil" is well documented.

http://www.historyman.co.uk/road2war/

As for your history of 1939, you leave out the part months before the negotiation and signing of Stalin's treaty with Hitler where secret negotiations take place between Stalin and the French and British governments about a similar treaty. Much of the outrage expressed when the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact was based on the fact that the allies had hoped to quickly defeat Germany in a two-front war, but were unwilling to grant Russian troops entry into Poland. Molotov, himself, replaced a more western-friendly Foreign Minister (Litvinov) around this time (Stalin often made rather...bad...choices around staffing), and later had a popular Finnish drink named in his honour.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Molotov%E2%...

On the American Home Front, powerful industrialists like Henry Ford (a proud antisemite who published his views in the company newspaper) supported Hitler and fought to keep America out of the war for similar conservative reasons. There were even marches in big American cities in support. This was a very different and far more complicated conflict than our current war, and there was no easy correlation on any side between left and right and war and peace. And I think we can all agree that Chamberlain was a colossal moron for countless reasons.

As for the horrors of modern-day dictators, America has a very easy solution - it can stop funding them. Until it does, I'm going to be very sceptical about their motives. For every nasty rogue state there's a parallel among America's allies. Suharto, Pinochet, the Shah of Iran, the Saudi Monarchy, Batista, the Nicaraguan contras. Hell, the American government has funded at various times nearly all of its enemies from Ho Chi Mihn (very effective against the Japanese) and Pol Pot to the Iranian fundamentalists, Osama and Saddam. And it didn't break off the alliance with Saddam until years after he "gassed the Kurds". Beyond this, it could stop selling weapons to governments with horrible human rights records (America is the world's biggest arms dealer), and start tying some of these lucrative trade deals to things like human rights and standards of living rather than "economic policy liberalization" and support for American military goals overseas.

If the American government is sincerely trying to make the world a better place, they're some of the dumbest folks in history. If they're trying to maintain a position of global dominance, though, it all makes a sick and twisted sort of sense.

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By Shempatolla (registered) - website | Posted December 07, 2010 at 16:01:32

The British, Italian and French interventions in Russia were as much the result of incredible confusion over the Russian civil war as any inordinate fear of Soviet domination. The Bolsheviks did not have a secure reign on Russian and began being challenged by anti Bolshevik forces that emerged through out the former Imperial proper of Russia. White Russians (rightist), Mensheviks all splintered from Lenin's fold and pressed their own agendas.

In 1918 the Allies were desperate to reestablish an eastern front against Germany. With local Soviet permission an expeditionary force was landed at Murmansk. As the situation became more cloudy and the fighting within Russia itself more pronounced the White Russians pressed the Allies for support noting that they had always been loyal to the Allied cause. The Bolsheviks now began expelling and executing non Bolshevik socialists. Direct intervention by allied soldiers in this conflict was on a relatively small scale in Russia proper and the Ukraine. In fact French forces in the Ukraine reported being bewildered by what was happening, and not being certain who they were supposed to be helping.

By November 1920 The Bolsheviks had wrested control territorially from any remaining areas of White Russian influence. They had also crushed any national aspirations of peoples like the Tartars, Uzbeks and Kazaks.

One could argue the allies involvement in the Russian Civil War was that of accidental tourists. War weary western europeans had no stomach for a continued conflict in the east particularly in Russia.

Here are a list of some of the regimes supported by Russia and China through the selling of arms and propping up of governments.

Iran, Sudan, Chad, Libya, Syria, Myanmar, North Korea, Viet Nam, Cuba, Venezuela, Zimbabwe.

Shall we stack up human rights abuses now? To portray Americas support of less than savoury regimes throughout the world since the end of WWII out of context is misleading and disingenuous and displays and incredible amount of naivete. In every single case from the Shah to the House of Saud, there were/are global geopolitical rationales to justify them. Does it leave a bad taste in your mouth?....sure. Is it necessary? Yep

America is not the boogey man. When the tsunami hit Indonesia.... what were the first tv images we saw? Dozens and dozens of helicopters with the words UNITED STATES MARINES on the side of them dropping food and evacuating people.

Our government couldn't send anybody in a timely fashion because we didn't have any planes with working compasses that could make it there.

Haiti: same thing.

Kosovo and the Balkans. While the Europeans hummed and hawed it was finally the US which said enough is enough and decided to start bombing the piss out of Serbia to stop it. Embarassed, the Europeans had no choice but to follow suit and man up.

Have you heard of THE MARSHALL PLAN? It was a little investment the United States made which would be the equivalent today of TRILLIONS of dollars to help Europe rebuild after WWII.

You will probably argue now that the only reason they do these things is so that years down the road they can franchise out McDonalds and subvert the young of these places.

I'm done. Keep living in the Land of HR Puff N' Stuff. Next time there is a global crisis maybe Jimmy and Freddie the magic flute will fix it.

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By Undustrial (registered) - website | Posted December 08, 2010 at 09:46:58

It's hard to argue that stamping out Bolshevism wasn't a chief concern of allied intervention in the Russian Revolution, especially given Churchill's comments at the time, regarding the intervention "Bolshevism should be strangled in its cradle". Between Canada, Britain, France and America there were nearly 70 000 troops, with many others such as the Italians, Czechs and Japanese, with their own various anti-soviet goals.

http://www.biographybase.com/biography/C...

As for American actions since WWII, the fear of communism can only go so far to justify the support of murderous regimes. Is North Korea horrible? Certainly. Was (is) it wrong for Russian and China to support the dictatorship? Clearly. But those principles apply to us, as well. America's list is very long, and very horrific. Many of these dictators killed tens or hundreds of thousands, even millions, and rose to power with the direct aid of the American government and major American corporations (like United Fruit). This spanned across Latin America (Haiti, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Argentina, Columbia, Chile, Cuba, etc), Asia (Indonesia, Cambodia, South Korea, Pakistan etc), Africa (Angola, Algeria etc), Europe (Franco in Spain) and the Middle East (virtually everywhere). Nothing did more to feed the rise of forces like Radical Islam and Communism than the carnage this inflicted.

http://www.thirdworldtraveler.com/Terror...

If they were fighting for "freedom", why support avowed Fascists like Franco or Pinochet? If they were fighting against communism, why support the Khmer Rouge against the far more moderate Vietnamese communists who'd ended their regime and put an end to the killing fields? If radical Islam is dangerous, why fight against moderate secular governments in nations like Iran, Egypt or Afghanistan? Because it was all far better for US business and military interests, that's why. Suharto may have invaded East Timor and killed off a third of the population. He may have even killed over a million people in his own brutal, CIA-backed rise to power. But once he began his decades-long reign, he turned his country into one big plantation, sweatshop and strip mine, which has been fantastically profitable for the companies who do business there.

We don't have any direct influence on the Chinese government. Hopefully someday the people of China will. We do have influence on ours, and we can investigate and object to these crimes. If we choose not to, and instead blindly accept the rationales of those in power, what makes us any better? Before we go fighting wars and levelling countries to prevent the spread of WMDs, how about we stop giving them away? The American government sold chemical and biological weapons to Iraq. The Canadian government, through AECL, played a large role in nations like Pakistan and China becoming nuclear powers. Before we go trying to fix the world, we need to take a long hard look at ourselves.

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By mrjanitor (registered) | Posted December 08, 2010 at 20:15:18

Read about decorated American war hero Smedley Butler and his book he wrote after retirement War is a Racket (link for full book).

I hope this thread is still being read, General Butler was an amazing and very brave man and I hope all here take the time to read his book. It's a very short read, more like a series of speeches.

Comment edited by mrjanitor on 2010-12-08 19:16:05

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By Shempatolla (registered) - website | Posted December 08, 2010 at 23:34:17

I wonder what kind of world we would have had people listened to Churchill? Low estimates are that Stalin murdered, starved, banished to Siberian Gulags to never be seen again, somewhere in the neighbourhood of 60 odd million or so of his own people. Evidence of which only began to surface in the west after the conclusion of the Second World War and with the establishment of the iron curtain.

You should speak to someone of Ukranian descent who is old enough to remember or old enough to have had a family member that lived through the Stalin initiated Ukranian genocide during the 1930s.

Poland, East Germany, Romania, Bulgaria etc all got to experience in their own special way the wonderful world of the peoples paradise brought to them by the Soviet Union.,

The Hungarians in 1956, Czechs in 1968 got to know what it was like to piss off Moscow up close and personal.

The Soviet Union and communism beginning in Russia from 1920 onward and through out eastern Europe after WWII oppressed and enslaved hundreds of millions of people. They could not vote (other than for a communist as other political parties were illegal), they could not protest, they could not congregate for anything other than staged Communist Party events under heavy guard ( that would make the Toronto G20 security look like a boy scout jamboree), they could not travel, they could not access international media or news, they could not own property. The economic model they lived under barely provided them with the necessities of life. This regime and its puppets executed and imprisoned millions more. The final number may never be known.

This regime supported and exported weapons to regimes every bit as brutal if not more so than those you complain about the US supporting.

Now contrast what life has been like in Western Europe and North America since the end of WW II. Quite different. So much so that the former satellite states of Soviet Russia have thrown off those shackles of oppression and embraced market economies, democracy, individual liberties, free trade, property ownership, entrepreneurism.... etc etc.

The one Bulwark that has remained steady during this entire time, the one anchoring factor that has allowed these peoples and nations to pursue these goals has been the example of and the security provided by the United States. Period. This goes back to my original point. People have short selective memories. The Western world, specifically Western Europe owes the old allies but particularly the Untited States a debt that can never be repaid. Not just for WWII, but for the rebuilding of their society and the security that it provided them while they did it.

In stead what we typically get is what we have seen here. Pissing and moaning about support for unsavoury regimes around the world, the usual clamoring about corporate greed and manipulation for profit in client states..... and on and on add nauseum.

And you suggest we need to look in the mirror before we start trying to clean the rest of the world up?

On its worst day I will take anything the US has done in exchange for the security and prosperity we have been able to enjoy for the last 70 years.

We live in a very dangerous world that is ironically far less stable than the cold war. Keeping it relatively safe is sometimes dirty business. Thankfully someone is willing to do it.

Oh no communism wasn't a threat to our way of life at all........ please.

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By Undustrial (registered) - website | Posted December 09, 2010 at 11:06:17

Well folks...you wanted to see what a serious conversation without trolling looked like...get out yer yardsticks.

I never said that I supported the Soviet Union or that it wasn't dangerous. It clearly was. There were plusses and minuses, many of which depended on where you were. And they could vote - just not like we do. "Soviets" are worker councils, and focused largely on economic matters. I'll never advocate any form of state communism, and certainly not the USSR. My sympathies for that empire died when Trotsky put down the Krondstat Rebellion during the revolution.

However, to count only countries in Western Europe and North America as "our side" would be only telling a fraction of the story. Many communist countries were (comparatively) nice places to live - Tito's Yugoslavia, or Castro's Cuba. And if we consider only those examples, and not those like neglected central Asian states or North Korea. The prosperity which exists in rich western nations now would not be possible without massive imports of cheap resources and labour, along with financial factors like debt and undervalued currencies. The countries those resources come from - in Asia, Africa and Latin America, show a very different side of our system. This is now, as it always has been, at the core of US military strategy. What did Cuba and Guatemala have in common? The United Fruit Company. It owned, reportedly, a third of Cuba before the revolution, and large parts of Guatemala. When these were lost to land redistribution policies in these crushingly poor post-colonial states, both became the targets of Washington. Executives of United Fruit - Alan and John Foster Dulles, went on to lead the CIA and took both as favoured targets. The CIA backed a coup in Guatemala which lead to 140-250 000 dead and ended democracy there for decades. In Cuba, the CIA has now allegedly tried to kill Castro over 600 times, and the United Fruit Company supplied the boats for the Bay of Pigs invasion.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1954_Guatem...

These are not the actions of people trying to "protect the world". These are the actions of people desperately trying to keep it under control.

It's also worth noting that "Communism" isn't and never was a single force. While it's rarely reported by fear-mongering conservatives who would rather paint a bleak picture of a world against us, a war between Russia and China has been at least as likely at any given point as a war between both of them and us. The best example is probably Vietnam (a "Russian" communist state) and Pol Pot's Cambodia (which had been backed by the Chinese), and the conflict between them. As the Vietnamese became victorious (and put down the Khmer Rouge, thankfully), this only strengthened Chinese fears, much like those in America (who then began to fund Khmer Rouge rebels). If you've ever wondered about the long-standing alliance between the Americans and Chinese (since Nixon) - this is why.

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By mrjanitor (registered) | Posted December 09, 2010 at 11:25:24

When the most decorated officer in America writes this,"I spent 33 years and four months in active military service and during that period I spent most of my time as a high class thug for Big Business, for Wall Street and the bankers. In short, I was a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism. I helped make Mexico and especially Tampico safe for American oil interests in 1914. I helped make Haiti and Cuba a decent place for the National City Bank boys to collect revenues in. I helped in the raping of half a dozen Central American republics for the benefit of Wall Street. I helped purify Nicaragua for the International Banking House of Brown Brothers in 1902–1912. I brought light to the Dominican Republic for the American sugar interests in 1916. I helped make Honduras right for the American fruit companies in 1903. In China in 1927 I helped see to it that Standard Oil went on its way unmolested. Looking back on it, I might have given Al Capone a few hints. The best he could do was to operate his racket in three districts. I operated on three continents."

I listen.

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By Mr. Meister (anonymous) | Posted December 09, 2010 at 13:05:34

Germany was split in two after WWII. From 1949 till 1990 one side was under Soviet control and the other part under American, British and French control. Which side would you rather have lived in for those years? Pretty self explanatory. Both sides were almost identical in '49, not so much in '90, only 41 years later. The American (west) side was not perfect and lots of things were done wrong and injustices were suffered but is there really any kind of comparison? It is pretty easy to sit and attack the US and even our own country for their misdeeds but would you really rather live in the Soviet Union, or China or Cuba? They are quite willing to let you move there, their borders are very good at keeping people in and they are very easy to cross to get into the country.

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By Undustrial (registered) - website | Posted December 10, 2010 at 11:24:38

Smedly Butler, if what he says is true, was offered the position of American Military Dictator in a 1930s fascist coup attempt. Instead, he turned and snitched, and congress had an inquiry. My hero.

And what's with all this stuff about East Germany? Is a single person on here arguing that the Soviet Union was a nice, cheery, friendly place to live? No. Just that it doesn't give the Americans a blank cheque to do whatever they please.

The Cold War ended two decades ago. Russia never got a "Marshall plan", it was left to decay as a virtual mafia state. The Eastern European soviet republics were opened up to western low-waged labour (having been quite highly trained), and the Central Asian republics are now racked with war and extremism. America hasn't turned over a new leaf - their military funding is as high as ever, and their foreign ventures are just as dodgy. Communism, here, is simply a red herring, being used to distract from the very real motives and effects of these policies, just like "terrorism" or "drugs".

These fears are not limited to a few hippy peaceniks, they're being held by a very large chunk, if not a majority of this planet's people, and it's growing.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/5077984.stm http://pewglobal.org/2007/03/14/americas...

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By Shempatolla (registered) - website | Posted December 10, 2010 at 22:06:20

The problem is that the people proposing that America is the Great Satan of this world more often than not like to cherry pick their examples and then ignore the other things in the world that America does and that America achieves most often for the benefit of others.

They will cite CIA support for the mujahadeen in Afghanistan in opposition to the Soviets, then the abandonment of the Afghan file once the Soviets departed. Thats what happens in democracices. Once something isn't popular any more or falls off the evening news cycle, it gets "shuffled off to Buffalo".

Support for Sadam Hussein even while he gassed his own people. They forget to mention that he was fighting a war against Iran who had held hostage 44 American citizens for over a year. And yes America was a supporter of the Pahlavi regime and he wasn't always a nice guy. However under the Pahlavi's Iran was a secular, progressive, modern society more closely modeled after wester society than religious califate. The Iranian Revolution has set that country back at least 100 years, isolated it in the world and has ultimately destabilized the region.

Here are some interesting facts about what the US does in the world.

  1. The single largest contributor to AIDS education, prevention, treatment and research in Africa. They achieved this under ......wait for it George W Bush.

  2. Largest single contributor to aid in Haiti with $712 million dollars to date, economic development assistance, a food program that feeds 500,000 children 3 meals every day.

  3. The largest single aid contributor to Cental America at over 1.87 billion dollars per year.

  4. Because of Americas global military assests they are frequently the first available and always deployed whenever natural disasters occur. The Tsunami, the earthquake in Haiti, volcanic eruptions in the Philipines, earthquakes in Japan, have all seen US troops and equipment deployed to render assistance. There was no benefit to America in this. There was no geopolitical advantage to doing this. They did it because they could.

There are dozens of more examples.

General Smedley was one officer of hundreds of thousands of officers who served America in the 20th century. His story is unique certainly. It stands out because he is one of only a few who have denounced his country's actions. Are the other officers who held his positions or equivalent positions just dumber than him? Gullible? I don't think so. Perhaps they had a better grasp of what was at stake. I don't know.

Again, there is more right with America than wrong. Are there political challenges within that country? Certainly. There always is in a democracy. But for people to even attempt to compare the US and what it does in the world to places like China, Cuba, Iran, Soviet Russia, among others is absolutely rubbish.

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By Undustrial (registered) - website | Posted December 12, 2010 at 11:47:31

America gives a lot of aid in absolute terms. This is no surprise, as they have around a third of the entire planet's GDP. In relative terms, they give a much smaller percentage than virtually every other rich nation. Of that aid, much of it is military, and a very large chunk of that goes to very unsavoury regimes involved in serious human rights abuses. Of the aid which isn't military, it has a host of silly, self-serving restrictions, and is greatly outpaced by what countries like America get in debt repayment from these cripplingly poor countries (around 12:1). And in any case, do we let axe-murderers off because they do charity work?

You'll celebrate America for foreign aid, but not Cuba (which gives more medical aid than almost anyone else). You'll say that the west is "right" because of their higher living standards, but when countries like Cuba vastly outpace their neighbours in living standards, that isn't relevant. You accuse nations like Cuba of tyranny without a single look at the number of their neighbours (with full US support) that sport death squads, secret prisons and genocies (Guatemala, Haiti, Columbia). Havana has a lower infant mortality rate than Washington DC - what does that say?

The point is not that either one side or the other is "right". The point is that they're being judged by different standards. The whole notion of "sides" here is a fallacy. It's an issue of policies - some which work, and some which don't. By choosing between superpowers like "heroes" and "villians" in a Saturday morning cartoon, we ignore the obvious: superpowers are the problem, no matter which ideology they follow. Whether it's America, the USSR, the British Empire or Rome invading Afghanistan - it's going to look fairly similar, and end the same way.

Is it such a big leap to judge a nation by a rational standard of behaviour, rather than simply buying the excuses of one government and pointing accusing fingers at all others?

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted December 13, 2010 at 10:04:55

There must be two Americas: one that sets the captive free, and one that takes a once-captive's new freedom away from him, and picks a quarrel with him with nothing to found it on; then kills him to get his land.

-- Mark Twain, To the Person Sitting in Darkness, 1901

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By Shempatolla (registered) - website | Posted December 13, 2010 at 15:35:24

Maybe if the west placed more conditions instead of less on the aid it dished out to the "developing world " we might see some better results for our investments. Qualification for this money has to amount to more than "we're poor, give us money". We can argue till the cows come home about regimes with human rights abuses and who supported them.

And I'm sorry but there is a right and a wrong, and it is important to remember which is which and who is who. How many former east bloc nations elected to stay aligned with Russia after the fall of the iron curtain? Poland, The Czechs AND Slovaks, the former East Germany, Hungary, Bulgaria, Ukraine have all lined up to sign trade, travel, airspace, and defence treaties with the west. Most of them want to enter NATO.

With respect to Cuba and its living standards. If things are so rosy, why won't the Castro brothers have free and open elections? Why is property ownership forbidden? Why are resort workers searched daily when they leave? Why do every year thousands of Cubans try to flee( in ramshackle rafts and boats overloaded to the point of sinking ) across the 90 miles of sea to Florida?

China has had confrontations with both India and Russia, threatens Taiwan with invasion oh every other week, does little if anything to reign in that wack job Kim Jong Il, has grown increasingly aggressive in the use of its navy in claiming the Spratly Islands. Bejing has exported ballistic missile technology to Iran, large arms sales to Sudan, and generally stirs the pot whenever and where ever it can to make things difficult for the US.

Russian "democracy" has take a big step backward with the media tightly controlled, journalists murdered and disappeared, businessmen imprisoned on bogus tax charges and their companies seized and merged with state owned oligarchies, and business and organized crime rolled into one big hybrid of the wild west and Capone's Chicago. The Russians have brually prosecuted a civil revolt in Chechnya with tens of thousands killed.

The wackos that run Iran, despite the increasingly vocal civil disobedience continue to persecute it's gay and lesbian population, there is no such thing as freedom of speech, Iran continues to defy the international community in it's pursuit of nuclear weapons, is involved in financing terrorist organizations in Iraq, Palestine, Lebanon, Afghanistan, Pakistan.

During the Pax Romana, the Pax Britannica, and the last century the Pax Americana the majority of the world saw long periods of relative peace. It did so because each of those imperial powers exerted vast influence in the world, had well established organized and structured colonial systems with defined rules of conduct and corresponding trade systems which brought prosperity to large portions of the known world. Each of those powers limited or eliminated the possibility of large scale wars by involving itself regionally where required and yes in sometimes brutal and predatory fashion. This served both its own aims and the greater aim of relative peace. We've seen a disintegration of this to some degree because of a combination of many contributing factors including but not limited to poor policies, the expansion and access to multimedia by everyone, the general decline in the willingness of western societies to defend their principles and interests in the world.

The world is probably a more dangerous place now than it was at the height of the cold war. It will be interesting to see what happens. It is far from the fault of the United States.

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By Mr. Meister (anonymous) | Posted December 13, 2010 at 23:21:29

Undustrial - UTTER AND TOTAL NONSENSE. You cannot actually believe the silliness that you are writing can you. You seem too want to hold up Cuba as this shining example of what a great humanitarian country it is. All the while people risk life and limb to leave it for that country you seek to belittle, the USA. How many people are trying to get into Cuba either legally or illegally? Is it high on your list of places to emigrate too? It must be with its low infant mortality rate and huge medical foreign aid program you want to hold up as shining examples. I bet you could be living there in time for New Years Eve! And yet I wager that despite all the nonsense you have spouted you will never ever voluntarily move there. If you absolutely had to pick one or the other countries to live in, Cuba or USA, how long would it take for you to pick USA, more or less than 1 nanosecond?

I have heard that statistic about infant mortality in DC being extraordinarily high used so many times it is getting silly. What is the overall life expectancy of a child born in Cuba compared to USA? I bet you do not want to talk about that do you? Or pick a hundred other yardsticks to measure the relative quality of the 2 countries and how many would favour Cuba? 2? 3? Maybe 1? Maybe none? I know that you actually know better and yet you insist on spouting this rubbish.

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By mrjanitor (registered) | Posted December 14, 2010 at 08:28:06

Mr.Meister

Just to keep on facts, the under 5 mortality rate in Cuba is 6.5 per 1000 births, the under 5 for USA is 7.8.

The infant mortality rate in Cuba is 5.1 per 1000 births, the rate for the USA is 6.3.

Link

Use this chart and the IMR for Cuba is 4.4 per 1000 vs. 6.8 for the USA.

Link

Now that the facts are presented a proper debate can occur on the meaning of this data. I'll start by stating my amazement that a country as rich as the US and which claims to have the finest doctors in the world could compare so poorly against a country immersed in abject poverty due to an embargo by the US. How is this possible?

Comment edited by mrjanitor on 2010-12-14 07:33:51

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By Mr. Meister (anonymous) | Posted December 14, 2010 at 13:44:38

mrjanitor - I assume that you are now booked on a flight to emigrate to Cuba. When is the farewell party? Of course you are not going. Nobody is. I know several people who have gone there for vacation. Everybody says the same thing. A country in abject poverty. Great climate nice place to visit but boy am I glad I do not live there. For all the nonsense you spout about the select few stats your life is immeasurabley better here then it would be in Cuba. You know it, I know it and everybody reading this knows it.

If you absolutely had to choose to live in one country or the other is there any doubt which way you would choose? Of course there is not. The USA is not perfect they have their problems but any attempt to paint Cuba as a better place to live than the USA is laughable.

Quick what are the last 3 great inventions/innovations/drugs/ideas to come out of Cuba? How many Noble prizes have been won by Cuban nationals? Maybe Raul Castro can win one next year by stepping down and having something resembling a free country.

All the above is in response to your assertion that Cuban infant mortality rates are lower than in Canada and USA. Has it ever occurred to you that since the numbers coming out of Cuba are not verifiable and there are is no way to check them that they may not be entirely accurate? Just maybe they are a total fabrication. Just maybe.

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By Undustrial (registered) - website | Posted December 14, 2010 at 15:59:49

For the record, Cuba's medical system is actually known very widely as a success story. They train loads of foreign doctors, and send more doctors abroad than any other nation proportionally. And while it's certainly poor, it's not as if Latin American countries tend to be rich and democratic. Compared against countries in a similar situation, rather than the richest nation on earth, they actually favour quite well. And you can't just discount that because they're communists.

My point was not "Cuba good, America bad". I don't think Cuba's medial aid, it's organic farming policies or comparatively high standards of living justify any of its sins. But we can't have one set of morals for "the good guys" and another set for everyone else. America also does good things, but they, likewise, do not magically erase the consequences of the bad things they've done. While Cuba tends to have some of the higher living standards and social indicators in the developing world, and giving some of the most aid, America has some of the lowest living standards in the "developed" world and gives some of the least aid per capita. None of this makes torture chambers ok, inside or outside the boundaries of Guantanamo Bay.

I'm not going to move to Cuba, Russia or China. Pointing out the obvious gaping flaws in American foreign policy doesn't make me a Stalinist. These are 'straw man' arguments, used to avoid discussing the actual facts of the matter, which is that America has a hell of a lot to answer for.

I don't want to see a Soviet empire, a Muslim Empire, or an American Empire. Empires are the problem.

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By mrjanitor (registered) | Posted December 14, 2010 at 16:00:16

Mr. Meister:

You wrote this,

What is the overall life expectancy of a child born in Cuba compared to USA? I bet you do not want to talk about that do you?

I took up your challenge and found the information,

Just to keep on facts, the under 5 mortality rate in Cuba is 6.5 per 1000 births, the under 5 for USA is 7.8.

When did I endorse Cuba as a paradise? Never. When did I say I would prefer to live there? Never. You wrote something you did not investigate properly. I found the correct data that contradicted your bellicose statements and posted it, plain and simple. I would like to request that you have facts with sources to back up any arguments you present in the future please. It will make future discussion here meaningful. Thank you.

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