you get to keep the prize

Canada has packed its bags, pulled up tent and left Afghanistan as of July 5th. The rhetoric of the mission, and its justification and rationalization is a perfect example  for lawyers. We knew the mission was a lost cause, futile,  since its inception. Canada was guilty of embarking on this invasion, but, legally the military could claim innocence and best intentions. In other words, avoid the truth and spew out what is the most effective rationale. Like Plato and his restrictive definition of rhetorics in the Gorgias, in which sophists- the ones that claim perfect knowledge of rhetorics and teach it- say for example that when they claim they fight for justice, that their art is the art of justice and that it consists in winning any trial. So, the rhetoric of justice in the military mission, the rhetorical value, supercedes any moral claim to partiality or the truth.

---Lt.-Col. Michel-Henri St-Louis, the commander of the 1st Battalion Royal 22e Regiment battle group (right), and Lt.-Col. Steve Miller, who is charge of the 3rd Battalion 21st U.S. Infantry Regiment, (left) watch as Brig.-Gen. Dean Milner, commander of Canadian troops in Afghanistan (seated) signs transfer of authority papers on Tuesday, July 5, 2011. For all intents and purposes Canada's war in Kandahar ended Tuesday as the battlefield was formally handed over to American units. --- Read More:

In the Georgias, the sophists try to articulate what exactly the art of rhetoric actually consists of, and Socrates will always make the point that they see that the art of speaking is always speaking about something. Therefore, you must know what you are talking about; for example, a captain talking about ships is authoritative, but not a baker, even if he appears to sound as if he knows. ….

Rick Salutin:Others say the war should end but learn, I’d say, dubious lessons. In a remarkably despondent column in the National Post, Tarek Fatah said we’ve been beaten by, among other factors, “infiltration of extremist Islamists at all levels of government and civic society in the U.K., U.S. and Canada.” In The Globe, Margaret Wente wrote of what she called a “tragedy of good intentions.” She said elections “hardly matter if a winner’s incapable of governing. Afghanistan … needs a good, tough warlord.” The fault, then, lies not with ourselves but with the Afghans. Next time, elsewhere, who knows? It all might work brilliantly….

---An Afghan boy looks at a U.S. Marine of the Weapons Company, 1st Battalion, 3rd Marines during a patrol outside the Camp Gorgak in Helmand province, southern Afghanistan July 5, 2011. --- Read More:

…What do I think we can learn from this? Let me answer the question with a question: How come the “other” side there seems to run an effective military and an efficient court system while “our” Afghans, despite endless training, never seem ready to go into battle alone, and the legal system is corrupt and despised? What does Islamism have to do with any of that? I know it seems crass, but there is one blatant difference between the two “sides”: It’s us , our military presence, in all its costly glory. Could that be the crux?

Is this the lesson never learned? That when you invade, no matter what you say your reasons are, you are seen as an invader and occupier? Despite the good deeds you do or claim to do. When our bombs kill civilians, they’re the invader’s bombs, different from those of the homegrown oppressors. The locals we install and the elections we set up are tainted by occupation. Read More:

---Warlord Mullah Naqib shakes hands with Prime Minister Stephen Harper in March, less than two months after the Kandahar elder helped free the main suspect in Glyn Berry’s death. The key to Mohammed's release was Mullah Naqib, an important ally of the Afghan government who has been commanding respect in Kandahar since his days fighting the Russians. In a country where blood is everything, Mohammed was lucky enough to be born a member of the old warlord's tribe. It's a measure of Naqib's standing - and a reminder that loyalty is a complicated thing in Afghanistan - that just months after Berry's death, the warlord stood on the grounds of a military base in Kandahar and shook hands with another Canadian, Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who was making a quick visit in March. In an interview, Naqib warmly remembered his meeting with Harper, saying the prime minister extended a friendly invitation to visit Canada. "He said, 'Please come to my country,' " Naqib recalled, chuckling. ---Read More:

—( Malalai )Joya said that the Administration did not want to give her a visa because her message exposes the lies that justify the U.S. war in Afghanistan. She told her audiences that after 10 years of U.S. occupation and “development aid”, Afghanistan ranks next to last among all countries on the UN Human Development Index, and that the conditions of Afghan women have not improved.

Warlords and drug lords dominate Parliament and the Karzai government, Joya said, while U.S. troops kill civilians and rain destruction from the air. Afghan women and democratic people are caught between three enemies: the misogynist Taliban, the fundamentalist and misogynist warlords and Karzai regime, and the U.S. occupation forces. If the U.S. occcupation forces leave her country, Joya said that it will be easier, because Afghans will only have two enemies to fight, instead of three.

Joya said that the U.S. in Afghanistan for its own regional strategic interests, and n

o help the Afghan people. She said that U.S. forces do not plan to leave by 2014, as President Obama has promised, but plan to stay a long time.Read More:


The Gorgias is one of Plato’s most bitter dialogues in that the exchanges are at times full of anger, of uncompromising disagreement, plenty of misunderstanding, and cutting rhetoric. In these respects it goes beyond even the Protagoras, a dialogue that depicts a hostile confrontation between Socrates and the renowned sophist by the same name.The quarrel between philosophy and rhetoric shows itself as an ugly fight in the Gorgias.

What is the fight about? Socrates asks Gorgias to define what it is that he does, that is, to define rhetoric. And he asks him to do it in a way that helps to distinguish rhetorical from philosophical discourse: the former produces speeches of praise and blame, the latter answers questions through the give and take of discussion (dialegesthai; 448d10) in an effort to arrive at a concise definition, and more broadly, with the intent to understand the subject. The philosopher is happy to be refuted if that leads to better understanding; wisdom, and not reputation, is the goal (457e-458a).

---But here’s the thing. Not once did Sy write that visiting Canadian troops in Afghanistan is not a noble endeavour. What he tried to say was that the timing of this particular trip by the Leafs GM was wrong. The optics were wrong. Burke’s priority on free agent day, Simmons wrote, should have been signing free agents, not visiting the troops in Afghanistan. “You don’t, if you’re running the Leafs, if you’re struggling to make a lousy team better, if you haven’t been in the playoffs yet under your watch — even if it is a Canada Day trip for the Canadian troops — go to Kandahar on July 1. You just don’t.” That’s the general point of Simmons’ piece. He never wrote — as Jay Paxton, the director of communications to Canadian defence minister Peter MacKay, suggested in an email — that he “values free agency more than our Canadian troops.” That’s ridiculous. Simmons wrote that it was Burke’s job to stick around on Free Agent Day and, by all means, go to Afghanistan another time.--- Read More:

…Gorgias is forced by successive challenges to move from the view that rhetoric is concerned with words to the view that its activity and effectiveness happen only in and through words (unlike the manual arts) to the view that its object is the greatest of human concerns, namely freedom. Rhetoric is “the source of freedom for humankind itself and at the same time it is for each person the source of rule over others in one’s own city” . This freedom is a kind of power produced by the ability to persuade others to do one’s bidding; “rhetoric is a producer of persuasion. Its whole business comes to that, and that’s the long and short of it” . But persuasion about what exactly? Gorgias’ answer is: about matters concerning justice and injustice . But surely there are two kinds of persuasion, one that instills beliefs merely, and another that produces knowledge; it is the former only with which rhetoric is concerned. Read More:
Noam Chomsky:The same principles governed the invasion of Iraq. As the U.S. failure to impose its will in Iraq was becoming unmistakable, the actual goals of the invasion could no longer be concealed behind pretty rhetoric. In November 2007, the White House issued a Declaration of Principles demanding that U.S. forces must remain indefinitely in Iraq and committing Iraq to privilege American investors. Two months later, President Bush informed Congress that he would reject legislation that might limit the permanent stationing of U.S. Armed Forces in Iraq or “United States control of the oil resources of Iraq” — demands that the U.S. had to abandon shortly after in the face of Iraqi resistance….

Reza Deghati photo. Chomsky:It was always recognized that Europe might choose to follow an independent course. NATO was partially intended to counter this threat. As soon as the official pretext for NATO dissolved in 1989, NATO was expanded to the East in violation of verbal pledges to Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev. It has since become a U.S.-run intervention force, with far-ranging scope, spelled out by NATO Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, who informed a NATO conference that “NATO troops have to guard pipelines that transport oil and gas that is directed for the West,” and more generally to protect sea routes used by tankers and other “crucial infrastructure” of the energy system. Read More: image:

…In Tunisia and Egypt, the recent popular uprisings have won impressive victories, but as the Carnegie Endowment reported, while names have changed, the regimes remain: “A change in ruling elites and system of governance is still a distant goal.” The report discusses internal barriers to democracy, but ignores the external ones, which as always are significant.

The U.S. and its Western allies are sure to do whatever they can to prevent authentic democracy in the Arab world. To understand why, it is only necessary to look at the studies of Arab opinion conducted by U.S. polling agencies. Though barely reported, they are certainly known to planners. They reveal that by overwhelming majorities, Arabs regard the U.S. and Israel as the major threats they face: …If public opinion were to influence policy, the U.S. not only would not control the region, but would be expelled from it, along with its allies, undermining fundamental principles of global dominance.

Support for democracy is the province of ideologists and propagandists. In the real world, elite dislike of democracy is the norm. The evidence is overwhelming that democracy is supported insofar as it contributes to social and economic objectives, a conclusion reluctantly conceded by the more serious scholarship.

Elite contempt for democracy was revealed dramatically in the reaction to the WikiLeaks exposures. Those that received most attention, with euphoric commentary, were cables reporting that Arabs support the U.S. stand on Iran. The reference was to the ruling dictators. The attitudes of the public were unmentioned. The guiding principle was articulated clearly by Carnegie Endowment Middle East specialist Marwan Muasher, formerly a high official of the Jordanian government: “There is nothing wrong, everything is under control.” In short, if the dictators support us, what else could matter?

The Muasher doctrine is rational and venerable. To mention just one case that is highly relevant today, in internal discussion in 1958, president Eisenhower expressed concern about “the campaign of hatred” against us in the Arab world, not by governments, but by the people. The National Security Council (NSC) explained that there is a perception in the Arab world that the U.S. supports dictatorships and blocks democracy and development so as to ensure control over the resources of the region. Furthermore, the perception is basically accurate, the NSC concluded, and that is what we should be doing, relying on the Muasher doctrine. Pentagon studies conducted after 9/11 confirmed that the same holds today.

It is normal for the victors to consign history to the trash can, and for victims to take it seriously. Perhaps a few brief observations on this important matter may be useful. Today is not the first occasion when Egypt and the U.S. are facing similar problems, and moving in opposite directions. That was also true in the early nineteenth century.

Economic historians have argued that Egypt was well-placed to undertake rapid economic development at the same time that the U.S. was. Both had rich agriculture, including cotton, the fuel of the early industrial revolution — though unlike Egypt, the U.S. had to develop cotton production and a work force by conquest, extermination, and slavery, with consequences that are evident right now in the reservations for the survivors and the prisons that have rapidly expanded since the Reagan years to house the superfluous population left by deindustrialization.Read More:

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