The Arsenal Of Democracy

Gilad Shalit and the Military Reality of Imbalance

On the 18th October 2011, Gilad Shalit was freed by Hamas militants into the custody of Egypt and from there flown by helicopter home to Israel, back into the arms of family and friends who had not seen him for five years. In return 1,027 Palestinian’s are to be returned home.

In most scenarios a trade of such imbalance would seem almost preposterous to any other nation. That is unless the captive in question was in some way unique, un-disposable. Gilad Shalit, however, was not. He holds the rank of Sergeant First Class, the lowest non-commissioned officers rank, aged nineteen, and with a low medical profile. The Palestinian prisoners released were all convicted prisoners, some of whom convicted for acts of terrorism and murder. Regardless of this the high ransom for such a captive remains, in many ways, accurate.

In a recent article Israeli Novelist A.B. Yehoshua had this to say:

“[Israeli] soldiers are well trained and rely on advanced technologies and military abilities that are superior to those of the Arab countries – and far better than those of Palestinian militant groups. By demanding the release of more than 1,000 prisoners in exchange for one soldier, Hamas is conceding the stark military reality of this imbalance: thousands of their prisoners, fighting with knives, explosive belts, and primitive rockets, are worth only one Israeli soldier.”

Suggesting Hamas was not aware of this “stark military reality of imbalance” seems almost childish as this is not a reality they act in blissful ignorance off but is rather one they have been forced to live with in their streets and town, which remain the parade grounds for Israeli tanks and the targets for Israeli bombs. Hamas are more than aware of this imbalance and it is this blinding reality that had them seek the numbers they did.

Yehoshua’s statement must make us ask if Israel really understand the one sided nature of this never ending war?

For generations the Israeli media have been playing Hamas and other militant groups off as simply terrorist organisation committing terrorist acts. Since the election of 2007 in which Gaza won a majority it is clear that they are, as much as Israel, America, and the EU would like to deny, the democratically elected head of Gaza making their acts those of war. War being the way we must begin to understand the Israel-Palestine conflict. The shear number of prisoners Israel was able to release explains the imbalance of this war.

The famous quote states, ‘The death of one is a tragedy, the death of a million a statistic”. As the media confirms, the capture of Sergant Gilad Shalit was a tragedy and his release a cause for great joy. The arrest and detainment of thousands of Palestinians over the years and the statistical nature of their release simply a note.

Read A.B. Yehoshua article, A Thousand To One, here.

The Re-Birth Of A Liberal World

image

History is a constant repetition of peaks and troughs, like a double helix raising and falling over time. It used to be that we measured these peaks by emperors and kingdoms, with the interceptions of the lines being marked by wars and invasions.

Of course these lines do not run symmetrically but alter, with every interception forever changing the paths of those that follow and with the end of imperialism as was known in ancient antiquity and the middle ages and the birth the industrial revolution, capitalism, and in the post-war era we mark history through social movements, economic catastrophe, and cultural change.

At this moment in time we are experiencing the fall of one history and the rise of a newly liberal and economically responsible era.

The collapse of the financial sector in 2007 saw a global catastrophe not seen for generations. Poor practises in the financial sector led to international disaster, forcing governments to save their financial institutions to save the investments of their constituents whilst simultaneously paying for the bailouts with their taxes and cutting on mass government spending whilst the institutions with whom the responsibility truly lies are left to continue the practise of rewarded risk that led to the situation we face.

As we know this did not happen without consequences. Dictators fell in Egypt, Tunisia and now Libya, with Syria maybe soon to follow, revolution in Iceland, and occupations in New York, Madrid, London, and Athens

This was not unforeseeable. Since the time of President Reagan and Prime Minister Thatcher the general precedent has remained the same, allow the rich to improve their wealth and the society will benefit. This general belief meant a decrease in public spending and corporate responsibility, whilst reducing income tax and capital gains to increase competition amongst ‘job creators’ a belief that has long outlives the former President to become an almost religious belief in the United States, less so in the United Kingdom but still prevalent throughout New Labour.

Inevitably this lead to the situation we find ourselves in now with the richest taking liberty with their newfound freedom, creating vast economic growth amongst those at the top of the economic chain and some growth amongst those beneath. This system led to collapse that left the top relatively unharmed whilst the middle classes took the burden of the collapse through lost savings and investments, higher unemployment and cost of living and austerity cuts rather, cuts which could have been spared by those responsible taking responsibility for their actions.

All these protests are looking for this exact aim. People have realised the true consequences of unfair government policies and their blind following of economic growth. No longer do people want a government whose only focus is the economy and growth but whose focus is on the living standard of all their people, economic equality, and an end irresponsible banking practise.

In 1933 President Franklin D. Roosevelt implemented his New Deal. These focused on his three R’s: Relief for the unemployed and poor, Recovery for the economy, and Reforms of the financial sector. The people of today are looking for the same and the longer our leaders resist, the stronger the forces against them will grow. We are creating a newly liberal world and our leaders would be fools not to follow.

Originally published on Daily Organ

David Milliband: Remembering Gaza

image

In an article for Project Syndicate, former Foreign Secretary David Cameron wrote about the need for more international involvement in Gaze and the need to allow the people of Gaza to make their own future. He places the ability to achieve this squarely with Israel yet praises organisations such as Save The Children and The Qattan Center for the Child for their dedication to the alarmingly high number of the population, 53%. that are under 18.

You can read it here.

The Tax Collector

The tax collector has experienced some of the highest levels of discrimination in history. Portrayed as ravenous in Biblical times, or indulging the Pharaohs at the expense of poor farmers in Ancient Egypt, the tax collector has long been a symbol of overbearing states and the exploitation of hard work.

In the past this discrimination has not been without just cause. The expenses taxes went to pay for included the hedonistic lifestyles of monarchs and landowners, military campaigns, and adventurism. Hard work and achievement seemingly punished and the rewards reduced. But how does this apply to the present day?

Taxes and tax levels remain one of the most contentious issues in modern politics, and with the economy in trouble, now so more than ever.

Both the US and the UK are currently undergoing major debates on tax levels, specifically for the rich. Whilst George Osborne and economists question the 50p tax rate on the effects of economic growth, Barrack Obama declares ‘class warfare’ on the rich.

Of course it is natural that in times of economic turmoil, government will be quick to use any attempts to quell the spectre of recession or depression. The time to do such has past however and we now face 7.9% unemployment on this side of the Atlantic and one-sixth living in poverty on the other, and the time of tightened belts in currently underway.

Whose belts we tighten is the true question.

In the post-bailout days of high debt and low income, governments must choose between increasing income or decreasing outcome and this fact comes as no surprise. Whether income is increased, tightening the belts of the wealthy, or spending is cut, tightening those of the poorest, is in the state’s hands.

The arguments for and against are discussed extensively in the media, in government, and in classrooms worldwide and the economic theories behind both will not be discussed here. They are too expansive and in depth to do so.

I will however say this, those claiming that taxing the rich is a tax on ‘job creators’ are delusional, misguided, or plainly lying if they believe it will somehow reduce their ability to create jobs and aid the unemployed back to work and out of poverty. The argument of many, that hard work should not be punished with high taxes that go to benefit those not willing (or lucky) enough to achieve this success is much harder to argue against.

There’s an obvious truth we as a society are often likely to forget. All though everybody has the potential for success, not everybody can be successful.

If hard work and determination towards profitable ends were the characteristics of all, not everybody would reap the rewards of economic security, as the competitive nature of capitalism simply does not work that way. The nature of capitalism does however mean nobody can reach these goals without the workers whom make entrepreneurs ideas a reality and the society they rely on for the innumerable factors needed to succeed.

In short, the winners in a capitalist society are reliant on those who aren’t. 

Originally published on the Daily Organ

David Cameron on the need for UN backed action to preserve human rights.

image

"You could sign every human rights declaration in the world but if you stand by and watch people being slaughtered in their own country when you could act, then what are those signatures for?"

Obviously this quote was on the situation in Libya and the Arab Spring where the ‘success’ of intervention has enabled the people of Libya to free themselves from a tyrannical leader.

In the same week as he has remained silent on the Palestinian bid for state hood, hiding behind Obama’s cowardly promise to veto.

"The Arab Spring is a massive opportunity to spread peace, prosperity, democracy and vitally security, but only if we seize it," he said, forgetting to mention it was only peace if the leader supported the western capitalism, prosperity if it was prosperity for us, democracy but only if we agree, and security for our own investments. 


Henry Kissinger - On China

image

Having an ashamedly lack of knowledge on China, its history, and its ideology, I decided to invest in some reading to help solve this issue.

Kissinger’s knowledge on the issue of China is perhaps one of the most comprehensive amongst western diplomats. Having worked as National Security Advisor and Secretary of State for Presidents Nixon and Ford, Kissinger saw in talks between the US and China that bridged the gap between the two and continues to the present day. This first-hand experience is the foundation to an informed, balanced, and in depth history of Chinese diplomacy and affairs that is built on a discussion of Ancient Chinese theories of Confucius and Sun Tzu, showing an image much larger than the diplomacy and issues itself but of an underlying manner, believe, and mentality that runs the most populated nation of earth.

Highly recommended. 

Amnesty International - Libya Refugees ‘Shamefully Failed’ by EU

In a recent article, we questioned the intentions of the NATO intervention in Libya. The need for action in this crises was not, as they claimed based on the support of democracy or humanitarian support but simply for the removal of a world leader who hampers the west’s world vision.

Now Amnesty International is claiming Europe has failed African refugees and their resetllement saying,”This failure is particularly glaring given that some European countries, by participating in Nato operations in Libya, have been party to the very conflict that has been one of the main causes of the involuntary movement of people.”

Amnesty says only eight of the twenty-seven EU states have offered to help resettlement of these refugees -Belgium, Denmark, Finland, the Netherlands, Ireland, Norway, Portugal and Sweden - but these slots only amounted to 700 people despite 3,800 people in the Choucha camp in Tunisia alone and another 1,000 in the Saloum camp in Egypt.

A spokesperson for the British government has said, “We are under no international obligation to bring asylum seekers of refugees to the UK from Libya and do not believe it would be desirable to do so. In our view humanitarian and refugee issues are best dealt with in the region of origin, or by asylum seekers claiming protection in the first safe country they reach.”

Any protection the British government has offered has been in the form of shelter supplies, tents, blanket, and flying people home from border refugee camps.

The lack of support for the victims of war shows a great lack of support for them. As western governments and NATO pledge reassuring support for the rebels fighting the war themselves, the true victims of Gaddafi’s regimes have been left behind showing the true colours of the west

Bill Clinton in remembrance of those passengers of United 93 who laid down their lives in the name of the greater good. 10th Anniversary of 9/11, Shanksville, Pennsylvania.