This month’s song from John Dog is
When There Was A World Outside.
SECTION 31RTE’s Questions and Answers programme used the same format as the BBC’s Question Time, so there’s topicality for you.
The young reporter who compiled the report that had Martin McGuinness speaking on the air was dismissed by RTE on Monday. Jenny McGeever has now taken the matter to the High Court and has been given leave to apply for a judicial review of her dismissal. No action is being taken against the editor and assistant editor of the programme. McGeever was a freelance reporter on contract to RTE. She is claiming that she could not report effectively if she did not tape interviews with various people. The fact that one of these interviews went out on the air was simply an oversight caused by the pressure to have the story ready for transmission.
This news item gave rise to a couple of related stories. The Gay Byrne morning radio programme was investigating the impact of emigration on families. He invited to the studio a woman whose husband had emigrated because he could not find work. After the programme was broadcast it was discovered that the woman was a member of Sinn Fein. The other programme under the eye of the press and politicians is “Questions and Answers.” This programme goes out on television on Sunday nights and is hosted by Olivia O’Leary. The format consists of a panel of politicians and other personalities giving their opinions on issues raised by individuals in an audience drawn from members of the public who apply for tickets. Members of Sinn Fein appear to have been particularly successful in obtaining tickets.
Semple told the Guardian that he and the UN official Mervyn Patterson, who was also expelled, were victims of local politics. He said a local leader in Helmand province falsely blamed them for talking to what he described as “one of the irreconcilables” in the conflict. They had, he said, opened no such channel to al-Qaida-linked Taliban.In the Carr Center talk, Michael Semple gives a glimpse of his long and colourful past in Afghanistan, then talks about a recent attack in Ganjgal, and how it illustrates the local political complexities that need to be navigated in order to understand events.
“There is a critical difference between what is discreet and what is covert,” Semple said. “What we were doing was simply discreet because that was what was required. But it was totally in line with official policy to bring people in from the cold.”
Why I think it’s interesting today is partly because of the difference between the J2 [intelligence officer] and the political officer. For me the attraction of the political officer is that although inevitably nowadays, because there is a military component in the intervention in Afghanistan, they have some kind of relationship with the military whether they’re working directly with the military as a POLAD, or whether they are meeting with the military like a UNAMA political officer like in my days as a political officer with UNAMA, that for the political officer the military is one small part of our intervention and the preference is for civilian forms of action, and there is an assumption that such goals as we’d like to achieve [..] the political officer believes that it is possible to pursue that through political means, through a process of reconciling rather than pursuing conflicts, of cutting across all different sides in a conflict, and relying on the military for specific tasks.
I feel that with the spread of counterinsurgency doctrine it’s as if the political officer is being squeezed out of existence, and is being turned into this POLAD who’s never really going to be able to get things done. If a political officer really just were a J2, somebody who both is a good intelligence analyst, a reasonable field operator, and can give a few bits of good advice to the commander, I don't think i would have wanted to be one. If I was happy to be one, it’s because the idea that we can pursue politics [while] keeping counterinsurgency sort of intellectually at bay with the idea that an integrated approach to achieve legitimate ends does not mean subordinating all civilian action, either politically or intellectually, to the demands of a counterinsurgency doctrine or the command of the military, but actually in an integrated approach we primarily do politics with political officers giving some ideas on how it should be done, and co-ordinate with the military action.Incidentally, Rory Stewart of the Carr Center who asked that question, and also introduced the talk, is not short of ground level experience in Afghanistan either. He is a sceptic when it comes to General McChrystal’s plan for US-led counterinsurgency in Afghanistan, primarily because he views it as unsustainable over the long term due to American domestic politics, and his main concern is that whatever action is taken, it needs to be long term as the problems in Afghanistan are deeper than deep.
These young ladies understand that through the FETs, they are being given the opportunity to make a connection and make a difference with Afghan women. Many times I see male Marines come to the Middle East with the attitude that everyone here is an enemy, and killing is the only answer. The FET volunteers care about the people of Afghanistan, and Iraq, as individuals, on a human level, with no preformed prejudice. That is why the program works so well. FETs go in with the right attitude, and the people know this. They are instantly welcoming, and we can see the difference we make among the women and children of Afghanistan firsthand - and we know that, in turn, they are making a difference among the nation's men through their family connections.
The powers that be are calling for more troops in Afghanistan. I agree, wholeheartedly. But let them be the right kind of troops. What we need, more than just bodies, are EOD technicians, able-bodied interpreters, counterintelligence specialists, and FET volunteers. Lots and lots of FET volunteers.
Edward Stourton asks if a battle over theology could help bring about the end of the Islamic Republic of Iran.
The demonstrations have been suppressed and the president is still in power, so has the storm that blew up in Iran after this summer's elections been stilled? Far from it, and now the opposition is coming from where you'd least expect. Some of the country's top theologians and clergymen think that President Ahmadinejad is doing grave damage to the standing of Islam and they want him out.
Which Islam? The Black Islam or the Green Islam? The Islam of Ayatollah Montazeri or the Islam of Ayatollah Khamenei? the Islam of Mousavi or the Islam of Jannati? The Islam of Mesbah Yazdi or the Islam of Sanei?More.
There’s a world of difference here, do not put everything under one category. The ruling system in Iran has behaved tyrannically in the name of Islam, that’s a correct assessment and those who have suffered the most are these Muslims themselves.
Consider this: Iranian Christians in Tehran have their own churches, but Sunni Muslims in Tehran, in Mashad, in Qom, in Tabriz, … they are not allowed to have their own mosques. Dervish Iranians are not permitted to have places of worship in religious cities in Iran, like in Qom, in Mashad. These are Muslims. We have Jewish synagogues, but as a Sunni Muslim or Dervish Muslim, we can not have our own places of worship.
Or consider this, I have the same religion and same faith as these gentlemen [Shia Islam], but I don’t agree with their stance on anything. If I want to go for the Fetr or Ghorban prayer, if I want to go for Friday prayer, I have no place to go in Tehran. In the Shah’s time, Ayatollah Taleqani had his own mosque, Hedayat Mosque. In the Islamic Republic, we do not have an inch of space for ourselves. They’ve turned all mosques into government and state mosques.
This is the way this system treats the Muslims, the Shi’a Muslims, the Sunni Muslims, the dervish Muslims.
Sunni Muslim politicians had wanted the referendum on the U.S.-Iraqi security pact to be conducted in January, at the same time as national elections. But with the clock ticking on preparations for the elections and the parliament still deadlocked over a new election law, there no longer is time to also draft and approve the legislation required to simultaneously hold a referendum, legislators say.
Perhaps more significant, the political will to hold a referendum appears to have evaporated amid the realization that U.S. troops are leaving anyway, and that it may not be in Iraq’s interests to have them pull out even sooner.
“The political blocs are no longer interested in this issue. They want to ignore it because they are busy with the elections. They don't see it as something they could use to their advantage,” said Salim Jabouri, spokesman for the Iraqi Accordance Front, the largest Sunni bloc in parliament, which previously insisted on a referendum.
“We still have concerns that Iraq does need American forces to be on the ground. The challenge of Iran still exists, and also the people are not confident in the performance of the Iraqi security forces,” Jabouri said. “I can’t say we want the Americans to stay [until the deadline] because that could cause some misunderstandings. But I will say that if they stay, it will have its advantages.”
“I’d like to know - and I invite him to comment on it - why Pilger is citing this bigot as a voice of conscience and an advocate of justice.”
“I think the situation in Iraq is so dire that unless the United States is defeated there that we’re likely to see an attack on Iran, we’re likely to see an attack on North Korea and all the way down the road it could be even an attack on China within a decade.”
What do Ralph Nader, John Pilger and Ayman al-Zawahiri have in common?The Pilger column referred to is here.
Before Barack Obama has even taken office or signed a single bill, all three have dismissed him as a sellout by using racial slurs. One might be tempted to say, “at least give the guy a chance,” but that would be a futile exercise.
The activist Ralph Nader and documentary filmmaker John Pilger both referred to him as an “Uncle Tom”, while, more recently, al-Qaida No 2 al-Zawahiri said Obama was “the direct opposite of honorable black Americans” like Malcolm X, and lumped Obama together with Condoleezza Rice and Colin Powell as “house slaves”.
Meanwhile, his government at this VERY MOMENT is bombing the shit out of the fucking MOON!But Norm sees justification for the award.
In Afghanistan, the US women’s activist group finds that their Afghan counterparts want US troop presence – as well as more reconstruction.
By Aunohita Mojumdar, correspondent of The Christian Science Monitor, October 6, 2009
KABUL, AFGHANISTAN - When Medea Benjamin stood up in a Kabul meeting hall this weekend to ask Masooda Jalal if she would prefer more international troops or more development funds, the cofounder of US antiwar group Code Pink was hoping her fellow activist would support her call for US troop withdrawal.
She was disappointed.
Ms. Jalhal, the former Afghan minister of women, bluntly told her both were needed. “It is good for Afghanistan to have more troops – more troops committed with the aim of building peace and against war, terrorism, and security – along with other resources,” she answered. “Coming together they will help with better reconstruction.”
Code Pink, founded in 2002 to oppose the US invasion of Iraq, is one of the more high-profile women's antiwar groups being forced to rethink its position as Afghan women explain theirs: Without international troops, they say, armed groups could return with a vengeance – and that would leave women most vulnerable.