Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Darfur update

Darfur.  Finally!  “A high-level United Nations mission to Darfur said today that the Sudanese government had organized and taken part in human rights crimes against its own population and that international action to stop the killings and rapes had been inadequate.”

Negative U.S. influence

Why is the U.S. so hated around the world?

      In part it is due to the Soviet's propaganda machine which instead of directly trying to influence events created a self-sustaining Marxist subculture which seeks to destroy the establishment (United States and allied institutions) in the West. This subculture continues to live today even after the fall of communism and the fact that Communism killed more people than the Nazis ever dreamed of.

Islamists have taken on the old Soviet propaganda machine, and are working it with skill.
This is a post about a recent BBC poll about negative influences in the world that ranked the U.S. and Israel above just about everyone else (including N. Korea and China).  Makes you wonder what life would be life for these same people if the U.S. fell off the face of the earth.  Do you think it would be better?

Friday, March 09, 2007

Trying a nation

I find it interesting that the United Nations can come up with the logic in trying an entire nation for genocide.  At issue is the Bosnian genocide during the Serbian/Bosnian crisis in the early 90s. 

The international court in the Hague, Netherlands, exonerated the Serbs for the crimes by rejecting monetary reparations.  This is the Serbs in general, not any individual or set of individuals, or even the government, although that’s where the money would come from I assume. 

I’m really torn on the wisdom of doing something like this.  So your people were getting slaughtered by the Serbian army during the conflict back about 15 years ago.  That’s been documented and is monumentally true.  But Bosnia is it’s own country now, separate and distinct from Serbia or the old Yugoslavia.  Who are you trying to punish now?

Is it the leadership of the Serbs during that time?  They’re mostly gone, but those that are certainly aren’t getting released for trial by the Serbs, who appear to be protecting them to a certain degree.  Is it the government, which is arguable since they’re responsible for the army and it’s doings?

Is it the people themselves, driven to a state of fascist nationalism, convincing themselves that driving a part of their own population out of existence was in their own best interest?

      The Serbian leaders "should have made the best effort within their power to try and prevent the tragic events then taking shape," in the U.N. enclave, the scale of which "might have been surmised," the ruling said.

      Key to the court's findings was its conclusion that no one in Serbia, or any official organ of the state, could be shown to have had the deliberate intention to "destroy in whole or in part" the Bosnian Muslim population - a critical element in the 1948 Genocide Convention.

I can see their point in the logic behind that finding.  But if that’s the case you won’t EVER see a trial against a country as a whole work. 

I would argue that you should be able to sue a country for this purpose only if it can be proven that any part of the strategy of the country or it’s army was to oppress or eliminate a portion of it’s own citizens, or if crimes by members of the military or civilians are not punished by the country itself.  Otherwise it’s a waste of time.

However, when does a country as a whole become liable for this sort of thing.  When do you as a citizen become accountable for what you allow the government to get away with?  Should we have sued the entire nation of Germany after WWII?  Who would get the reparations?

Truly I think that Bosnia should move on here.  They have a chance to start fresh and live their own lives, with the protection of being a sovereign nation not beholden to the Serbs in any way.  Trying to recover something from the Serbs, who aren’t doing that well themselves, is just keeping the wounds open.

It’s just as stupid for the UN to state that there’s no proof that anyone in Serbia had the deliberate intention to “destroy in whole or in part” Bosnian Muslims.  Like it’s going to be on the official documents list or something.  Memo:  Begin systematic elimination of Muslims.

Despite what I said above, the Serbs still harbor much hatred and nationalistic fervor that spills into racism, much like what we’re seeing from many European countries these days.  However I fail to see how suing for cash is going to solve that problem.

And speaking of genocide in the modern era, don't forget about Sudan (Darfur) and Zimbabwe.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Islamic hatred discussion

In many countries of the world, well in most countries apparently, there is a substantial penalty for renouncing your faith if you’re a Muslim.  The death threats are certainly not an incentive to renounce Islam as your religion. 

Fascinating that there are probably millions of Muslims walking around as Muslims only because to declare otherwise would actually be dangerous.  Whereas there are millions of Christians out there, mostly in places like China, Sudan and some Islamic countries, where being a Christian is dangerous.  And yet they still convert.

Kinda says something about the two religions.  Figure it out.

Yes, there are many people who consider themselves Christians who are not practicing.  Especially in the United States.  But where in the world would a Christian be harassed and threatened with death if they renounced the faith.  It’s mostly cultural (and hedging your bets about the afterlife) that people hang on to the Christian label.

Interesting discussion over at Winds.  Armed Liberal seems to disagree with the premise that liberal Hollywood (and all that represents, i.e. the export of social liberalism) are partly or wholly responsible for the Islamic hatred toward America and the west.   By disagree he thinks that the idea should be shunned from the vat of admiral discussion points, but I disagree, and the comments the post has been getting seem to indicate that it may or may not be true (at least in the sense of the underlying cause of Al-Qaeda or that it’s the main cause of Islamic hatred) it’s a good point of origin for discussion on where the militant Islamic movement comes from and where it gets its fuel.

But our involvement with the Middle East and terrorism goes back a bit longer than most people realize, and the causes of Islamic Extremism are far reaching, beyond their deranged attitude toward the west.  Interesting interview with Michael Oren, author of a book detailing our founding fathers grappling with Islamic terrorists.  Yes, it’s been that long.

Also, this conundrum:  if we support Democracy, what do we do when democracies vote in parties that support Islamism and generally hate us?

      In a nutshell, if we believe that freedom and some form of a democratic / representative government are the keys to dismantling the more violent and hard-to-live-alongside versions of Islamism - how do we deal with the problem that in free elections in much of the Muslim world today, the Islamists - the hard-to-live-alongside ones - would be likely to win?

      If we believe we can avoid conflict by doing the right thing, and doing the right thing means handing power to people who are determined to have a conflict with us...there's a good chance we've got issues with the way we're formulating the problem.

It’s another good starting point for a discussion anyway.  I disagree with the quote he brings up to illustrate this.  We’ve been hard on Hamas even though they were elected in Palestine.  However, Hamas is, at its core, a terrorist organization.  We have every right to insist that countries be run as Democracies, but then every right to deal with the party in power as we see fit to ensure our own safety and the safety of our allies.

I do agree that we can’t turn a blind eye to countries like Egypt suppressing a party like the Muslim Brotherhood just because we’re afraid of them winning a general election there.

And Iran, Iran so far away...

Things are heating up inside Iran, with more and more protests like this.  It seems that the people of Iran, whom we will distinguish apart from the leadership there, are finally getting fed up with the horrible management of their government and the sub-standard conditions they are forced to live with in the name of opposing the west and Israel.

      Thousands of teachers took to the streets outside the Iranian Majlis, or Parliament, on Saturday in an anti-government protest despite preventative measures by state security forces.

      The protestors complained of rampant corruption and mismanagement in the Education Ministry and demanded their overdue salaries.

But the regime is still hell-bent on oppressing any dissent.

      Iranian officials broke the teeth of a prominent womens rights activist, Nahid Jafari, when they bashed her head on a police van on Saturday.
      The regime is refusing her medical treatment for the injury.

And not only that, but they’re starting to lose high government officials.  I mean lose, really.  This guy has vanished from the face of the earth.  He was either kidnapped or defected.

      The recent disappearance of Ali Reza Asgari, Iran’s former deputy defense minister who was on a visit to Istanbul has been a mystery for the past several days.

      Now a report by the Arabic newspaper Al Sharq Al Wasat says that Asgari defected to the US after arriving in Istanbul from Damascus on February 7th.

      Although the story has not been confirmed by any sovereign authority, it is already evident that the saga has created panic inside Ahmadinejad’s administration.

Hang on tight.  Bush administration, are you paying attention?

Monday, March 05, 2007

Marriage is for the rich

Taking apart this article on marriage becoming an elite institution.  The article, by Blaine Harden at the Washington post uses statistics to determine that while the institution of marriage is declining in the lower income groups in this country, it’s still strong in the top 20 percent of earners.  Leading Harden to explain that married with children will soon become solely available to the wealthy class.

      As marriage with children becomes an exception rather than the norm, social scientists say it is also becoming the self-selected province of the college-educated and the affluent. The working class and the poor, meanwhile, increasingly steer away from marriage, while living together and bearing children out of wedlock.

The author spends much time on the causes (or the effects?  Hard to tell).  Mainly that income is amongst them.

      In recent years, the marrying kind have been empowered by college degrees and bankrolled by dual incomes. They are also older and choosier. College-educated men and women are increasingly less likely to "marry down" -- that is, to choose mates who have less education and professional standing than they do.

What the article fails to do is indicate whether there’s any evidence that one or the other is cause and/or effect.  Do higher income people tend to want to marry more, or is marriage a more stable way of life (when done right) leading to higher incomes?  By higher incomes, by the by, I’m not saying that marriages will produce people who make incomes in the top 20 percent.  I’m just saying that it might be that it would increase somewhat the money you make, leading to more people in that group breaching the 20 percent.

I’ve seen articles and research that indicates that college educated WOMEN are “marrying down” as the article says, but not men.  Traditionally women marry men whose earning power is higher than theirs, but men traditionally don’t look for that in a mate (at least to the same degree), so I’m skeptical at that statement.

      Among its many benefits, marriage raises the earnings of men and motivates them to work more hours. It also reduces by two-thirds the likelihood that a family will live in poverty, researchers have learned.

I would more likely see it from this point of view.  That marriage increases the earning power, and therefore the status, and not the other way around.

The article spends lots of time talking about the increase in people living together instead of getting married.  Then it gives this little tidbit.

      As far as marriage with children is concerned, the post-World War II version of normal began to fall apart around 1970.

However, the article spends absolutely NO print, doesn’t even mention, that all this could possibly be, oh I don’t know, a social problem not an income or class problem.  The income part of this comes in because during the sexual revolution, people in higher incomes tended not to take part in the social restructuring.  Their children were usually the ones who held on to the values and the model of how to become an upper income individual (and, yes, more likely to have the money to go to a really good college).

      "The poor aren't entering into marriage very much at all," said Smock, who has interviewed more than 100 cohabitating couples. She said young people from these backgrounds often do not think they can afford marriage.

      Arguments that marriage can mean stability do not seem to change their attitudes, Smock said, noting that many of them have parents with troubled marriages.

Harden moves in on a “racial dimension” but then has to relent that class is supposedly a much better tool for predicting whether Americans will marry.

They profile the lives of a wealthy married couple with children and then a low income (and much younger) couple living together.  Despite the obvious problems comparing couples of vastly different ages, there’s another aspect.  The poor couple have parents that had big time marriage problems themselves. 

Which is where this ties in with the changes from 1970.  We’re now well into the 2nd generation since the sexual revolution of the late 60s, and those people’s kids have been grown up for the last 10 or 15 years and are already having kids of their own. 

But the social disfunction of “free love” caused a tremendous rise in divorce and marital problems, and today’s new adults have a very bad idea about what marriage is all about and what it’s benefits are.  Or how to hold one together for any length of time.  Plainly, the benefits of marriage have not been modeled for a growing portion of our population.

But I don’t see the class-marriage link other than that of existing upper class people avoiding the social upheaval of the 60s.  Having extra money might make marriages easier when there’s not money issues to argue and fight about, but it’s far from the only problems people face in marriage.  In my mind the overwhelming cause of the decline in marriage in ANY class of people is the attitude that people bring to it, the models they observe, the support they get and the values that shape their life.  There are plenty of healthy marriages amongst poor and middle class peoples in America.  This is a social and moral problem.

Hat tip to Instapundit, who notes that the costs of raising a child in America today, which can be from a quarter of a million dollars to one million dollars through the child rearing years, might be driving the birth rates down. 

Perhaps that might be contributing to the declining rate of birth, but it still doesn’t explain everything away, as the rate of birth is still pretty high in lower incomes.  It’s just that the single parent and unmarried parent rate is much higher there.