March 13, 2003

I never quite "got" Deepak Chopra, but I hear he's some kind of spiritual money machine. He's got big plans for fixing things in the Mideast, though.

When I was looking at his 10 suggestions (which are supposedly being published in Europe this week), I got the funny feeling that many of them were already underway.

If you step out of the war mentality, there are not just a few creative ways to avoid an invasion of Iraq. There are dozens. If every person who doesn't want war sent in his or her suggestion about a better answer, tens of thousands of replies would flood in. Of these I'm sure that five or six would be completely workable. Let me mention ten to begin with:

Jean Chretien seems to have taken the first point to heart, congratulating Bush on having "won" already:

1. Congratulate President Bush on already succeeding. The presence of U.S. troops around Iraq has called Saddam's bluff. Disarmament has begun. If pressure is kept on with U.S. military presence, in the region, without dropping bombs, further progress will inevitably occur.

Hey isn't Winnie Mandela trying for Number 2:

2. Assign prominent figures of peace to be present in Iraq constantly, along with the U.N. inspectors. Have these revered figures address the Iraqi people and the world every day on the value of peace.

I think there are about 250,000 well-wishers about to do this one, including members of the 101st Airborne:

3. Ask 100,000 well-wishers from around the globe to bring food and aid to Iraq's children. These people would carry humane relief in person to Baghdad.

See item 3. And they're all volunteers:

4. Start a global Peace Corps of volunteers who will go to Iraq with the express purpose of fulfilling any humanitarian need asked for by that country.

Hmmm. What about a free TV? Anyway, I figure this is precisely what the people of Iraq most hope for:

5. Offer MTV, CNN, and Nickelodeon free to any Iraq household with a TV. Exposure to the world will make them feel like part of the world.

Aren't these called refugees?:

6. Sponsor 25,000 student exchanges for Iraqi high schoolers so that they can live for a year in Europe or the U.S.

I don't know. This seems like someone's idea of hell on earth. Maybe we merge this with number 2 and just have Ramsey Clark reporting on Iraqi TV every day. That would bring the country to its knees:

7. Keep a tenfold number of U.N. weapons inspectors on the ground in Iraq and have them report every two weeks.

Well, I suspect that this is already well underway, except for the "pros" and the "nationalism" part. American nationalism bad! Other nationalism good!

8. Teach courses in all American schools on the pros and cons of globalization, as opposed to instilling the false belief that nationalism is going to continue to work (war being a logical and horrendous extension of nationalism).

Like UC Berkeley:

9. Withdraw the resented presence of U.S. troops from those regions where seeing an American army uniform inflames simmering hatred.

Hey, wait a minute! How do we do point 9 and point 1 at the same time. Oh, I get it, naked soldiers. How new age!

Free air at a place where fun and joy abide. Sounds like downtown Baghdad in about 6 weeks:

10. Open Disney World somewhere in the Middle East., a region where up to half the population is under the age of 15. These children are in enormous peril, not just from bombs but from cultural isolation. Let children breathe free air at a place where fun and joy abide. What better way to reduce fear and anger? At the same time, find a way to expose American children to the children of the world.

(Thanks to James Taranto for the tip)

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Alma Mater Note

On Monday, March 10, 2003, Dr Heather Munroe-Blum was installed as McGill University's 16th Principal and 12th Vice-Chancellor. Dr Munroe-Blum is the first woman to hold this position at the University.

The ceremony took place in historic Redpath Hall, situated on McGill's downtown campus.

For more information, see: Historic event celebrates McGill's past and future.

I am particularly pleased that The Right Honourable Lord Sutherland of Houndwood, Former Principal and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Edinburgh was attending and speaking. "Houndwood" — sounds like a noisy place.

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March 12, 2003

New Definitions

From The Concordian, newspaper of Concordia University Montreal, scene of several recent anti-semitic, pro-Palestinian incidents:

The motion calls for a joint inquiry by the CSU and Concordia administration into what Cormier called "institutionalised racism at Concordia." According to Cormier, there have been several unanswered incidents of racism on university bodies, particularly at the Board of Governors. According to Cormier, Sobia Virk, a Muslim student governor, had asked that alcohol not be served during a meeting since it would go against her religious beliefs. Board members brushed off the request, said Cormier, telling Virk she should act "more Canadian."

I'm not sure which I find more puzzling:

A) that racism is redefined as failing to suppress any cultural practice (even as benign as drinking beer or wine) that could conceivably conflict with someone else's personal beliefs.

B) That they actually serve alcohol at Board of Governors meetings. They sure didn't when I was on the McGill University Senate in 1970.

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March 10, 2003

Dumb-mobbing the Smart Mob

A big NY Times Magazine piece, Smart-Mobbing the War, on the Internet-driven mobilization for the (less-objectionable) sector of the antiwar campaign: It is particularly insightful on some of the new organizing techniques.

Good thing Lenin didn't have these techniques in 1917!

The piece is pretty objective given that the author is critical of the naivete of these people and their association with the Stalinist Ramsey Clark deviation. But the money quote comes near the end as the author characterizes the principal organizer's world view:

War is evil, therefore prevention of war must be good. The wars fought for human rights in our own time -- in Bosnia and Kosovo -- have not registered with Pariser's generation. When I asked Pariser whether the views of Iraqis themselves should be taken into account, he said, ''I don't think that first and foremost this is about them as much as it's about us and how we act in the world.

'Nuff said.

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March 09, 2003

Department of Homeland Insecurity

The game is: Go to The Department of Homeland Security and download one of their many, many pictographs (like the ones in the seat pocket instructions for airliners).

Then add your own caption. The results are hilarious. {Link died. Ah well. Funny while it lasted.}

My own contribution:

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Coulthard Wins

Scot David Coulthard has won the Melbourne Grand Prix in his McLaren. Here's tae us.

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The Roots of French Anti-Americanism

Walter Russell Mead in Foreign Affairs reviews two popular French books that examine the roots of French Anti-Americanism. The two are: L'obsession anti-americaine: Son fonctionnement, ses causes, ses inconsequences. Jean-Francois Revel. L'ennemi americain: Genealogie de l'antiamericanisme francais. Philippe Roger.

Revel "finds anti-Americanism to be a product of French political and moral failures" rather than arising from any specific American policy. In short, they envy US and English success, in economic growth and in cultural achievement. This is the context in which Chirac is operating, and in which most French (and other nations') criticisms of US actions — economic, cultural, political and military — take place.

The challenge for Americans and non-Americans alike is not to end anti-Americanism; only the collapse of American power could accomplish that task. Today, the task is to manage pragmatically the resentments, irritations, and real grievances that inevitably accompany the rise to power of one nation, one culture, and one social model in a complex, divided, and passionate world.

It ain't Iraq, it wasn't Clinton, it isn't Bush. These aren't the things that raise hackles. It's the very existence of the United States and its vigor in bringing technology and commerce (not to mention democratic ideals) to the rest of the world.

The Islamic fundamentalists are not alone in deciding that the true source of evil in the world is the US. That seems to be common fare in the more "modern" Europe (and in the US, itself). The roots of the Anti-War movement are almost 100% congruent with the anti-globalization movement. Left unchallenged, this easy anti-US sentiment will fester and cause vastly more problems down the road than the efforts of a few Muslim thugs.

(By the way, Roger cites one central reason: the antisemitism of the right wing L'action Francaise between the World Wars. They blamed the Jews around Roosevelt for much of Europe's ills. Now the world parrots the line that America's support for Israel causes so much dislike. As they say, plus ca change.)

(thanks to Glenn Reynolds for the link)

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