Thursday, July 15, 2004
WHEN THE SKY FELL TO EARTH
That is the title of a detailed new report published by the International Campaign for Tibet, with the subtitle of "the New Crackdown on Buddhism in Tibet". The study, accompanied by a 35 minute companion film and extensive Chinese documentary source material, shows that the increasingly repressive Chinese policies are not specifically intended to maintain security or dissuade political opposition, but rather to supress the very Buddhist culture which is the bedrock of Tibetan society.
For many years, Tibetans have described present Chinese policies as a return of "The Great Proletarian People's Cultural Revolution" which rained such destruction on Chinese society 40 years ago, under Mao's disastrous policies. Others have simply stated that the Cultural Revolution had actually never ended in many parts of Tibet.
"China proclaims to be protecting religion and culture in Tibet but its internal documents flatly contradict this and show an intensification of control and repression by the government," said John Ackerly, President of the International Campaign for Tibet. "We are now seeing a level of government intrusiveness and control over monasteries that was unheard of in the 1980s and early 1990s," Mr. Ackerly continued.The ICT study shows that:
- Officials at all levels in Tibet are now being exhorted to strengthen control over monasteries and over the process of identifying reincarnations of important Buddhist monks and nuns.
- Crackdowns on prayer ceremonies for the Dalai Lama and important religious institutions in eastern Tibet in recent years have been described by some Tibetans as being like a 'second Cultural Revolution.'
- Political education campaigns continue in monasteries and nunneries throughout Tibet, contrary to representations by Chinese officials to Western governments that they have been discontinued.
- The PRC authorities are focusing increasingly on the 'control' of religion through administrative and legal mechanisms that enable them to clamp down on religious activities while claiming they are operating according to a 'rule of law.'
- The atheist Chinese government is taking a more aggressive approach to the identification, enthronement and education of reincarnate lamas following the escape of the 17th Karmapa into exile in 2000.
Document II: A Reader for Advocating Science and Technology and Doing Away with SuperstitionJust a couple of the shorter quotes, to show the astonishing degree of childish insecurity (coupled with brutish intolerance) exhibited by the Chinese Communist Party in Tibet today. Here again I must remind, that no country on earth is pushing forward the Tibet issue more strongly with the Chinese government, than is the US government -- and for that I thank them and will continue to thank them. By contrast the Europeans and our own Canadian governments are absolute spineless wimps with visions of renmimbis dancing in their heads. The US State Dept. is required by the mandate of the "Tibetan Policy Act of 2002" to issue regular reports on its work on this issue, an overview of which can be seen on the ICT site in "Report on Tibet Negotiations".
Issued by the Propaganda Department of the Communist Party of the TAR (2002)
Pg. 95. #34: [Throwing roasted barley flour, tsampa] to celebrate the Dalai's birthday and make good wishes for him ... is in sharp contrast to opposing the splittist activity ... so is resolutely to be outlawed.
Document IV. "Handbook for Education in [Party] Policy On Religion". Tibet Autonomous Region Patriotic Education for Monasteries, Book no. 4. Issued by the TAR leading committee for patriotic education in monasteries (2002)
Pg. 111, #14: Citizens freedom of religious belief should not be described as "religious freedom" in which unprescribed religious activity is pursued according to individual whim.
But back for a moment to the Tibetan people's ongoing Chinese Cultural Revolution. I feel this gives me the full right to use as many "sneer quotes" as I wish, when expressing my surprise that the International "Court" gave its "judgement" this week on the issue of the Israeli security barrier against suicidal Palestinians. The "judgement", which found that the barrier was "illegal" and violated "international law", was read out by the Chief "Justice" of the "Court", who is a "judge" in China. Apparently the international "community" believes that China has a functioning "legal system" which "impartially serves" its citizens. That a figure of such "legal" origins is given the honour to spout such a "judgement", when his own country gobbled up Tibet in one bite and continues the digesting process to this day -- and uses its own "legal" system to facilitate the total obliteration of its unique culture and religion ... no I correct that to say ... its unique and complete civilisation -- is a travesty only equalled by the shameless presence of Sudan on the International Human Rights Commission.
CAVEATS! WE NEED MORE CAVEATS!
Alright, how about this one: I might be absolutely and totally wrong -- about life, the universe and everything. There, that should be sufficiently broad to cover me.
Every now and then, when I ponder over what seems like a wild realignment of my own views on a range of things, I do certainly consider the possibility that I'm very, very wrong. I wonder if I haven't been tricked into switching over to the "Dark Side" by some unseen force. At other times it seems like a whole array of things "out there" have realigned themselves, and it's really myself that has remained constant. Then I read things like East Timor's freedom struggle figure Jose Ramos Horta explaining why, in his view, the western coalition was right to take out Saddam's regime, and I don't feel quite so alone. I'm quite sure that many of Horta's old allies in the radical left will have denounced him over that widely cited opinion piece. Or I find this story (which I'd wanted to pass along some time back), in which a teacher working in remote Central Asia learns what amazingly far-fetched but accepted "truths" form the basis of young Muslims' anti-Americanism. Later, while travelling through Burma, she is surprised to find people asking her when her country would come and liberate them from their vicious tyranical oppressors. Between the champagne socialists and their shrill mantras about "western imperialism", and the quiet, tentative pleas of those Burmese wishing for a little bit of that freedom they've heard about, I know who I would prefer to stand with. I could be wrong, though.
And of course it's the ultimate in political incorrectness to secretly hope that Bush retains the White House. Even if one sees many social issues of the day in a completely opposite way from W., but believes that there are more immmediate problems which must take precedence, one risks being seen as a conservative dinosaur. That's why it's so good to have intelligent, idealistic and articulate people around to explain why, in fact, the opposite is the case. Oliver Kamm writes in the London Times:
WRITING in The Sunday Times this week, Michael Portillo urged Americans to vote Democrat. Other Tory MPs, including Alan Duncan, the party's former foreign affairs spokesman, have expressed similar views.The argument that John Kerry is in fact less liberal (liberal in the classical sense) than G.W.Bush, is one I've seen elaborated on in many different ways recently. Kerry is clear that he would put ideals and principles about freedom and democracy on the back burner. In fact we know now more than ever, and this is supported by the academic study cited here a few weeks ago, that the prime factor in producing terrorism-inclined individuals is not poverty or lack of education. It is lack of freedom and democratic values in one's own society. Oliver's "liberal case for Bush" is quite worth considering, and reading in full.
I recognise the ideological consistency of Conservative critics of the current US Administration. I have voted Labour for more than 20 years; I even did so under Michael Foot's disastrous leadership in 1983. I am pro-European and believe in "foreign policy with an ethical dimension". The American presidential contender who most closely represents my ideals is George W. Bush, whose re-election I hope for.
But of course, I could be wrong about all that. Which seems to be the prime message coming from two major fault-finding exercises which culminated over the past week or so. First was the publication of a US congressional inquiry into the pre-war intelligence on Iraq. Pretty tough on the intelligence services, much less so on the political leaders. Yesterday the Butler report was released in London, looking into basically the same issues on the British side. Once again, shortcomings of the intel process, but finding no irresponsible or blameworthy conduct by the Blair government. This was the most complete of four separate inquiries into these issues, all of which have exonerated Blair of charges that he misled the country, pressured the intel folks to tell him what he wanted to hear, "sexed up" documents, and so on. Indeed, while both of these major reports have verified as true, several of the important issues which the media had long been accepting - and loudly trumpeting - as official "lies", media corrections to their erroneous reports seem to be consistently buried on page D27 or so. Instead, both reports are prominently touted as "devastating" for both Blair and Bush.
I watched Lord Butler deliver his summation of his committee's report yesterday evening, and answer questions about it from the assembled press. Very informative and interesting. It's very enlightening to watch certain of the media reps, with an obvious desire to spin the findings in a particular way or leading to unstated conclusions, and their inability to make it stick when actually faced with the very people who actually wrote the thing. The attempts to do so were obvious and frequent, yet Butler and another commission member were far more articulate, informed on the facts, and precise about what their report was meant to convey. Of course, they've been at this stuff for many months. The partisan slant of some "questions" came off seeming really very stupid. Barely a few minutes after this exercise, came Mr. Blair's response in the House of Commons. He was in top form, but then at times like this he's always in top form. Tony is a statesman of the first rate, in my opinion. I've been so impressed by his passionate performances in the past -- before the Iraq invasion, when he needed Parliament's consent for military action to go ahead. It's really a shame that John #2 (Edwards) couldn't have seen the entire speech, as well as his responses to opposition leaders' attacks. I doubt that Edwards would have felt so comfortable extracting four words from it all as a means to hit President Bush today. It was an incredibly compelling defence of the freeing of Iraq. And nice to see the inclusion of comments from the floor by Labour MP Ann Clywd, who has worked for Iraqi freedom since long before anyone was paying much attention to the country. Blair acknowledged her comments with well founded praise for her long service to the Iraqi people.
Last weekend, I watched Lt. Gen. Willian Odom (ret.), the Hudson Institute Director of National Security Studies in an interview on C-SPAN's Washington Journal. He made one comment on the Senate's Intel report which I noted down at the time, and that is that anyone can "split the facts to fit whatever point of view one wants". And of course that's exactly what happened over the ensuing week. This is a guy who knows a lot about this stuff, which was obvious from listening to him, and I found myself agreeing with most of what he was saying. He also opposed military action from the outset, and still believes it was a mistake. It was nice to listen to someone who I could agree with on all the basic facts - he says that Bush did not mislead, acted in good faith and using the best intelligence available at the time - and yet we disagree on what was the right thing to have done. This is disagreement where it ought to be, on carefully considered judgement - and not the shrill accusations we're normally treated to.
And this is what Tony Blair dwelled on for a bit last night. He expressed his respect for those who opposed the war for their own carefully considered convictions, while having distain for those who simply ride the issue for partisan point-scoring, as Michael Howard is still doing . He said something to the effect of, "Look. Those who supported military action are not vicious war mongers. And those who opposed it are not simpering Saddam lovers. In most cases, these were simply differences in judgement as to what is the right thing to do." Odom feels, and felt before the fact, that Iraq is simply incapable of supporting democracy. Or perhaps more accurately, the risk was too great, in that there is maybe a 10% chance that democracy will succeed there. In other words, a 90% chance of failure. Iraqis don't have a democratic tradition, and America is being naive to think that it can nurture a free society there. He believes he is right, and I believe he is wrong. That fundamental "unknowable" issue -- in the Rumsfeld system I suppose, one of the "things we know we don't know" -- is the only real difference of opinion. It seems to be a bit presumptuous to say that a society has no social tradition of codified law and citizen rights, when it's often cited as the birthplace of those very concepts. And most Iraqis seem to be aware of, and take pride in, that very pre-Islamic part of their history. The Iraqi blogger Sam has taken great pains to explain some of this history over the months since "Hammorabi" came online last November (link on the sidebar). A part of the world still known as the "cradle of civilisation", even though ruled by a brutal "law of the jungle" for the past 3 decades, seems to me like it must provide some fertile soil for a modern, democratic society.
Anyway, to get back to the theme of this item, what we apparently all need are more caveats. The big mistake found on both sides of the Atlantic was that caveats which existed in the raw intel reports were not sufficiently included in the final products which were presented to decision makers. The whys and hows and wherefors take up hundreds of pages, speculations on "groupthink" and "broken corporate culture" and dozens of other possible explanations included. The basic breakdown in both systems, seems to be that the caveats, reservations, cautions, etc. which accompanied the intel at initial levels, did not make it into the summaries and executive reports which made it up to the tops of the ladders. That was pretty serious of course, and reinforced by the fact that virtually all national intel services apparently agreed that the worst case scenario was in fact the most likely one. Add this to the realisation that they had repeatedly underestimated reality in several other important cases.
Both of these recent reports have actually confirmed that the intelligence which said Saddam was seeking to buy uranium from Niger remains valid and credible. The one document on this issue which was found to be forged, is but one piece in a much larger body of evidence, and the British, American and other intel agencies still stand by that assertion. The Senate committee and the British commission have seen this evidence and affirm this fact in their reports. Indeed several other countries had been trying to acquire raw uranium from Niger, whose principle exports are apparently uranium and goats. So those accusations that Bush "lied" with his "fateful 16 words" or whatever it was in his speech (wherein he stated that Saddam had tried to buy uranium in Africa), are shown to be baseless accusations at last -- by both of these "devastating" reports. Saddam did try to buy yellowcake from Niger, and the guy who started this whole "Bush lied about it" business, Joseph Wilson, has in fact been inadvertently caught in his own lie by a passage in the Senate's report. It's unrelated directly to the uranium issue -- he had told the media that his CIA officer wife did not get him the job of investigating the Niger issue, when in fact she had done -- but the result is that "Joseph Wilson said so," just doesn't carry the weight it once did. Anyway, now that the Niger-uranium-Saddam connection has been confirmed by both of these reports, as I said earlier, we can look for corrections to the months of front page headlines blaring "Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire", to be buried somewhere on page D27.
A caller to Washington Journal asked Gen. Odom if he'd seen a book called (I think it was) "The Third Terrorist". The caller said it had been recommended publicly by a fairly respected figure, which is the only reason I'd be persuaded to take it seriously enough to look for it. He said 9/11 commission member John Lehman had mentioned it - and this is a person who has been mentioned as a possible candidate for a new CIA director. This book apparently supports the contention that Timothy McVey -- the Oklahoma bomber now executed for his crime -- was known to be hanging around with a bunch of Iraqi guys prior to the act. Now I'm not saying this is valid or that it couldn't possibly be a lunatic product. But if John Lehman actually did -- as the caller claimed -- cite it as a worthy of attention, then I'd say it's at least worthy of attention. I have glanced through, but not yet read Laurie Mylroie's book showing the Iraq connection to the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, so I'm not ruling anything out. And Lehman is certainly no loon. But of course, I could be completely and utterly wrong -- so keep that caveat in mind.
PANTS ON FIRE
If books burn at Fahrenheit 451°, I wonder if pants might possibly burn at Fahrenheit 911°?
In the "can we ever believe a single word the big slob says" department, Michael Moore last week boasted to Time magazine that Sen. Tom Daschle was a "good sport" about having been criticised in his shlockumentary flick - claiming that the Senator sat just in front of Moore at the D.C. premiere, and gave him a nice warm hug after the show. But wait: Daschle himself says he "arrived late and left early" from the screening, and "has never met Moore," much less ever spoken with him. Wouldn't a touchy-feely-manly bear hug qualify as "meeting"? Can one bear hug with Michael Moore, and then truthfully say he's never met the man? I don't think so.
The question of whether it's actually possible to "hug" something that large is best left to individual judgement. Anyway it seems likely that either the Democratic leader of the Senate is ...um... telling a fib to deny something that happened, or Moore is just making it up. Hmm, would he really do such a thing? For a Time cover story? Has he ever lied for self serving reasons before? I think I'm going to have to go with Daschle on this one.
MORE OF THE NEWS THAT'S NOT FIT TO PRINT
Chrenkoff's Good News from Iraq, Part 5. A tremendous amount of stuff that will make you say, "Why the heck haven't I heard about any of these things?" It's easy -- doesn't fit the correct profile! Arthur has made all parts of his series, mentioned here previously I think at Part 2 or 3, available right at the top of his main page, on the sidebar. He has a series going now for "Good News from Afghanistan" as well.
FOLLOWING THE BEST HAIR BOYS
John Kerry talked to Larry King last week, and when questioned about a recent Dept. of Homeland Security alert, admitted that he didn't have time for national security briefings. "Well, I haven't been briefed yet, Larry. They have offered to brief me; I just haven't had time." That evening he attended New York's Radio City Music Hall for what appears to me to be a star-studded Hate Festival. Among others, the entertainer and self-acknowledged proud communist Whoopi Goldberg, "delivered an X-rated rant full of sexual innuendoes against President Bush". Mr. Kerry was seen to be laughing uproariously during the routine. The other half of the "best hair" team, Mr. Edwards said that he was proud to be there and hailed their campaign as "a celebration of real American values."
Naturally, such a celebration of American values is very, very important -- and it is well understood why Mr. Kerry wouldn't have time for little things like the briefings he has been offered on the terrorism threat. I'm happy to note that he apparently felt the heat over this hypocritical posturing, and returned to Washington a day early from the campaign trail in order to make time for the offered briefing.
And in other news from the best hair boys, James Taranto of the WSJ's Opinion Journal has found a gem from the lips of pretty boy Edwards. Of course by this time we're all aware of the endless claims by President Bush's opponents, that he had claimed that the Iraq threat was "imminent" -- when the actual transcripts and recordings show that he repeatedly said that it was not yet "imminent" but that he believed action needed to be taken before the danger actually became "imminent". There are enough examples of this, and zero examples of him claiming real, present "imminence", that the opponents have now stopped using that stick to bash him with.
"I think Iraq is the most serious and imminent threat to our country." -- John Edwards, "CNN Late Edition," Feb. 24, 2002
"Edwards Lied! People Died!" Are we likely to see that on any peace march placards any time soon? I won't be holding my breath. Might I be permitted to wonder who should be judged more trustworthy: one who is so careful with his language so as not to be caught making incorrect statements, or one who casually throws around such words with very specific meanings as "imminent" with clearly no firm evidence to back it up? And then turns around to call the first guy a "liar"? And let's remember here, that Edwards said this just barely over five months after the al Qaeda direct attacks on the US. Now, I'm not saying that Edwards is a liar either, as he is clearly expressing an opinion rather than stating it as fact (the imaginary protest slogan above is certainly not one I would actually carry myself).
And finally, if you haven't been following the election trail, you must be wondering why I chide Kerry / Edwards as the "best hair boys". Simply, it's because when John #1 decided to throw his lot in with John #2, he himself touted as a prominent reason why they are the best choice for America, that "we have the best hair!" But wait: the Wahl Clipper Corp. - "the industry leader for hair care and grooming products" - had already conducted a public survey, which found that "the majority of Americans overwhelmingly voted for Bush's hair over Kerry's." The score was: 51% preferred the president's hair, only 30% liked Kerry's hair, 10% said "neither" and 9% had no opinion. So did John #1 "lie" when he claimed the best hair? Not necessarily. The youthful mop atop the puppy-dog cuteness of John #2 could be expected to raise the team average, especially when compared with sparse offerings of Dick Cheney stylee. Bush's only hope? Dump Cheney for Condi! That 50's / retro "Olyve Oyle" flip could be just the thing to tip the hair issue in their favour. Plus, Ted Rall would go absolutely bonkers, heh. I mean of course, the racist cartoonist Ted Rall who rants about Condi and Colin being "house niggers", and puts little jokes in his toons about her having to return her hair straightening iron, and so on. That Ted Rall. Darling of the radical anti-war movement Ted Rall. End everyone's racism except mine Ted Rall.
Another tip to James Taranto's Best of the Web for the all important hair issue.
Belmont Club picks up on the apparent cries for capitulation to terrorist demands emanating from the Philippine Daily Inquirer, and points out some of the history that Filipinos themselves have endured at the hands of Abu Sayaf killers. It was not very long ago that they were treated to the spectacle of European diplomats delivering large quantities of cash to the likes of "Commander Robot" and similar gangster groups who had taken hostages from various island resorts, in the hopes of buying their release. The very same Inquirer revealed just how far that money went toward furthering the terrorists' continuing efforts, purchasing large quantities of weapons, equipment and local loyalties. Euro journalists who arrived to cover the situation were themselves kidnapped for even more ransom. The Inquirer also reported Abu Sayaf's claim of responsibility for a passenger ferry sinking this year in which 186 souls were lost. "The ransom money in those European suitcases was a gift that just never quit giving."
Belmont Club's Wretchard writes:
There are about 3 million Filipinos working in the Middle East whose remittances keep the dysfunctional Philippine economy afloat; many of them men and women who fled the very same carnage precipitated by the very same surrender policies that the Philippine left now advocates. The Inquirer has disparagingly called Filipino overseas workers "mercenaries" and the "toilet bowl cleaners of the world"-- like the hostage in question who accepted a truck driver's job in Iraq so he could pay for an eye operation to give back his son sight. Too bad he couldn't give the Inquirer back theirs.Dean Jorge Bocobo takes the Inquirer to task on his blog, Philippine Commentary.
Now we are faced with the disappointing news that the Philippine Government has completely given in to the terrorist demands. The animals' appetite for blood and infidel heads is considered to be quite genuine, as they sawed off a Bulgarian's head this week to reiterate. The Bulgarian authorities have repeated that they will not kiss such animals' backsides under any circumstances. Mrs. Arroyo started looking a little soft before this, but this latest beheading video seems to have tipped the balance. Yesterday her Foreign Minister said they were already pulling out their humanitarian team of about 50 people, choosing a rather unfortunate turn of phrase in referring to "our head-count."
I noticed a similar, rather thoughtless choice of words with the BBC reporter outside parliament following Tony Blair's oration in the House yesterday, when she queried one of Tony's apparent enemies within his own Labour Party, Glenys Jackson. (is it Glenys or Glenda? Whichever.) Great actress, rather less believable as a radical socialist. Anyway, I was not amused to hear the reporter asking Glenys and some other politico whether, after the Butler report, "Parliament should be asking for some heads on platters." My God, lady -- how about just a little bit of tactful awareness of current events, or is that too much to ask? Glenys of course would -- figuratively of course -- like nothing better than Blair's head on a platter. But thankfully didn't phrase it that way, and simply reiterated her call for his resignation -- her inability to actually specify something which he had done to warrant it, nothwithstanding.
THE CATCH-ALL ITEM
I had a couple of other things I wanted to write about this time, and running out of time tonight wishing to get this posted. So I'll just try to mention them and get them off my chest, and see if I can't keep it brief. Regional and local stuff. Bangkok Underground -- tried it, it was great. So great that the system was overloaded on a test drive Sunday, and we had to take the Skytrain home! More on this later. Bangkok the centre of international attention for the 15th AIDS convention. Thaksin was jeered on opening day, Kofi was a blunt critic of America, demanding more money. The War on AIDS is hampered by the War on Terror. Nobody says thanks when reminded that the US provides more AIDS war-chest money than all the rest of the world combined. Organisers of the conference should be fired for the travesty which occurred yesterday, allowing masses of "activists" to obliterate the entire podium and speaker, when the US representative tried to speak. They shouted him down with chanting and totally obscured him with hundreds of signs saying "He's Lying" -- a shameful disruption which has no place at an important event. Were police not available, too shy to touch the mostly western international "activists", or was it all part of the program? Shame, shame! The Thai organisers should have been much more professional about this. It seems like it's now considered proper for any and all events to be turned into idiotic anti-America hate fests. Colin Powell is serious about focussing on the AIDS issue, particularly as it affects Africa and that continent's security and stability. He has been admirable in his work and committment, and Bush fully backs him up. This mindless hatred is just getting ridiculous.
And speaking of Mr. Powell, when he was in Jakarta this month for an APEC ministers' meeeting, he had several interviews with local television media and also participated in a question and answer session with Indonesian student representatives. This was about 2 days before the presidential election, and the broadcast of the session with the students was delayed until two nights after the vote. I actually taped it, and was thinking about transcribing it but I think its not really necessary. There was nothing particulary surprising or new, but what I wanted to note was the general atmosphere. First of all, Powell was very engaging and forthright with the young people, he handled it very well. I wondered how much antagonism would be coming forth from the students -- after all, the United States is not very popular in that country either these days. I was relieved to see the questions were put forth with a calm and polite attitude -- which shouldn't have surprised me but I still felt relief that none of them went overboard or succumbed to the temptation of showing off. I suspect if it had been anyone but Powell, they might have been more apt to display open anger toward US policy. But he so obviously respected them, and put his case so logically and calmly, rebutted the slanted parts of questions so solidly but gently, they couldn't help but like him. And the obvious fact that he is a black man, made it extra difficult for any of the "bravely challenging the western man" thing which would have been so inevitable had it been any other American official. Oh there were hard and pointed questions to be sure, but the students did it with respect, and that respect was returned to them to an even greater degree. He made them feel proud of themselves and what their country is accomplishing, he made them feel the reality that they may themselves be in leadership roles soon, while he is soon heading for the rocking chair. I think he gave them many things to think about after it was over, and I suspect that most of them liked him better -- and by extension, understood America better -- at the end than they did at the beginning. Well done, Colin Powell.
JUST ANOTHER WORD FOR NOTHIN' LEFT TO LOSE
Belmont Club's Wretchard also has a post with a strangely emotion-twinging quality. He remarks on another writer's thoughts about increasing travel restrictions and immigration rules which are affecting tourists, journalists and others. He cites the Cuevas family case (a family of Filipinos who have lived and grown up in the US for 20 years, now deported back to a place that they can barely even recall as distant early childhood memories), and recent Supreme Court decisions to protect the rights of enemies (which seem ironically, to have the potential result of ensuring them of more human rights violations in the field rather than less).
The Cuevas family must go in part to enshrine the right of Moussaoui to stay. Michael Moore caught the mood perfectly when he told Christopher Hitchens, "Osama should be considered innocent until proven guilty". We might be crazy; but we're not biased.He suspects that these incoveniences, and many others, will grow worse rather than better. Where once it was possible to dream of "a world without passports", he has the chilling fear that one day, "people will tell their incredulous children that they once traveled as tourists."
Here, in a high ceilinged room lit from behind by frosted glass panels I can from my workstation remotely roam the company offices on five continents, writing code, deploying assemblies and doing everything a wired early 21st century man should do. In my heart I know that the traveler's via dolorosa and the Cuevas family heartaches are just a business opportunity. That there should be a buck in there somewhere; that doubtless there is. But in more quiet moments, I will remember the hills of Southeast Asia and strangely scented cities in Africa and know that whatever the bottom line says, the buck will never be worth it. Let's finish the job and be free again.Belmont Club is always provoking of thoughts, and generous with well informed analysis. The writer has apparently had some extraordinary personal experiences in my part of the world, and elsewhere in the far corners. Remembrances of hills and scented cities ... I sense a particular authenticity behind that choice of words, some kind of deeply held affection for this wonderful world, which I can very much relate to.