Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Reading the Riot Act to Pussy Riot ®

     Back a few years during a strange war waged by a tie-chewing clown from Tbilisi on people he thought he owned, the Russian president (Medvedev) prayed for the West to drop their Sovietologists and get some Russologists, instead. Judging by the press and media reaction to the Moscow court verdict over three members of the psychos who call themselves Pussy Riot four years later, it has not happened yet.

          The Western media coverage of the incident and trial has been abysmal. To begin with, there is the obssessive thought that Putin is Stalin just about to unleash a war on kulaks and starving millions to death. If  the boss feels threatened by a bunch of punk artists and orders them into gulag  (as is intimated in Forbes, e.g.) then things are getting really bad in Russia led by a former KGB killer. Of course, to people who don't know Russian history, language, culture, this makes perfect sense.  The girls were praying to Virgin Mary for Putin's removal before his re-election, so the maniac ordered two years of  hard labour for them. That is all you need (to know), as per one famously accused wife beater.  "Shame (on Putin)", for trying to take away the freedom of screaming obscenities in a church, masturbating with poultry in a supermarket and having sexual intercourse in a museum.  
         Another idee fixe about Pussy Riot, is that the verdict is not sanctioned by law, or that it is somehow legally faulty. Again, this is a clumsy attempt to indict Putin for practicing the Soviet era justice in construing a false link to real dissidents like Solzhenitsyn and Sakharov, who were fighting real lawlessness of the Soviet system.  This interview from The Economist insinuates that the punk band members were actually victims of "various changes in Russian law that have made life harder for the Russian opposition". As we will see in a moment this is not so.

        Finally, the Western media misrepresent facts.  The incident is mostly described as "performance", i.e. a staged act which has an audience, whether in a planned, advertized event or  an impromptu "flash mob" happening which attracts casual passers-by or onlookers.  Carol Rumens of  The Guardian expresses solidarity with the singers, calls the their prayer "poetry" and opines that the event only shocks believers because they are unused to "trendy vicars putting on rock concerts".   That is an interesting take, given of course, a trendy vicar failed to materialize in this sorry tale.  Then there is a nasty attempt to forge a testimony of the malicious act for which the band found itself indicted under the law, and by the Russian public opinion.  The version of the "Prayer" carried by The Telegraph shows the infamous video and asks if it "was this worth two years in jails". The problem is that the tape as presented by the outlet has Nixon-like erasures on it, precisely at the spots of  the ugliest, hateful  utterances against the object of worship that the building has been dedicated to.  Incidentally, Carol Rumens's translation of the prayer also forgets to insert the "punchline" into text the second time and renders the sratj, sratj, sratj gospodin  (repeated four times in each instance) as  'crap, crap, this godlines; crap, crap, this holiness'. The Guardian blogger seems to overdo her linguistic naivete. The phrase uses the commonest Russian obscenity which shows idiomatic preference for scatology (like the Germans).  In English, the nearest idiomatic equivalent would probably be 'fuck, fuck, fuck the Lord !'.  Why can't they admit it without dancing euphemistic around it, or deny it happened ?

The Pussy Riot Mongering No Problem for Putin 

    Perhaps we are in the terminal stage of cultural insanity which blinds us to the obvious.  The existing political system in Russia is far from that repressive regime that was the Soviet Union, or for that matter, the Tsarist Russia. It may not be not the democracy that most of us in the fondly remember once existed in the West. But neither it is the rapidly decaying, self-destructing, democracy (in name only) that rules in the West today.  It is Russia that is trying to hold its own in a rapidly changing world.  Whatever faults one may find with Putin, he is not Ivan the Terrible or Stalin or, for that matter Brezhnev.  He is not a mass murderer or a senile idiot.  He knows what he wants, and knows how to get it when it is doable. And because what he wants and his accomplishments appeal to most Russians, he happens to be a popular guy. He is not popular in some circles, especially among people who think they could do better than he does. They often exaggerate his faults or accuse him absurdly of monstrous crimes and lawlessness (I will deal with the Khodorovsky, Litvinenko and Politkovskaya affairs in another post). But first thing a bright and informed observer would not that Putin does not need extravagant intimidation and lawlessness. He understands and respects the game of numbers in politics. He grasps the art of public relations (though IMO he should fire the PR manager who counsels him to outdo the photo-op adventures of princes William and Harry). He also has something that is relatively rare in contemporary world politics  - brains.

    People who believe that Putin would feel threatened by the type of political protest that expresses itself in punk rock shrieks as a rule do not have brains.  They are easily persuaded by stupidities they read (if they can read) or hear from the talking heads in the media.  As a rule, they are clueless as to what is going on in their own neighbourhoods, let alone what is going on Moscow, Ekaterinburg or Vladivostok. Anyone who watched the Russian TV and social media debates on the incident and its aftermath,  knows that the principal issue that has exercised most intelligent Russians about this forgettable media storm is precisely the one ignored by Pussy Riot supporters, in Russia and the West. It is the idea that animates the bolshevizing tyrants, from Lenin to Emmanuel Rahm.  Liberty and civil rights do not cover people who believe something else than we believe. Only Pussy Rioters have rights. They can do whatever they please. No one else has rights ! How can anyone but a reactionary monster oppose gay marriage or screaming obscenities at God in a church ?  Naturally, the first casualty of such a way of thinking will be that base ingredient without which democracy - a social order worthy of that name - is impossible.  It is something called civility. People who worship the narcissism of identity politics simply don't get democracy as a social order.

The legal grounds

The charge or implied narrative that Pussy Riot have been victims of a new anti-rioting legislation designed to stifle political opposition to Putin is false. They have been prosecuted under an article first defined in the  Soviet penal code under a heading of  khuliganstvo (though the description from the English "hooliganism" dates from the Tsarist times). It is a clumsy catch-all legal category, describing wilful attacks on public order and common standards of decency, ranging from provocations (e.g. public nudity, sex acts), to vandalism, to simple assault, to attacks on monuments or authoritative symbols of the state, and offenses commonly labelled mischief in Anglo-saxon jurisprudence.  Despite the wide-spread misapprehension, the statute was not devised to suppress political dissidents, who, for the most part, would take great care to present their plight within the accepted norms of behaviour. Indeed the credibility of the Soviet dissidents and the justness of their cause was recognized by their great personal dignity.
   The specific incident was deemed to fall under a subcategory zlostnoye khuliganstvo (malicious hooliganism). The charge presumes that the acts were fully intended to cause harm to either a specific person or persons or society at large. The Russian penal code carries penalties for this offense (if committed by more than one person) for up to seven years. The prosecutor asked for three years; the judge gave two years. (In comparison, Canada's Criminal Code's penalty for 'anyone who obstructs, interrupts or interferes with the lawful use, enjoyment or operation of property' (CC 430 (1) (c)) is a sentence of not more than ten years. No minimum.)

   Two years seems a harsh sentence given that the harms in this case were wholly dignitary. But this is for the Russian legal system to ponder. The country has by tradition higher expectations of individuals to conform to behavioural norms as it considers its well-being rooted in a large consensus.  There is no evidence that I am aware of, that the court proceeded against the accused in a prejudicial manner.

Western Hypocrisy

      Russia Today quizzed a New York-based journalist and activist Don De Bar, who believes that the concerns expressed by Washington regarding the Pussy Riot legal case are phoney and selective. The State Department dragged its feet on legitimate dissent in Bahrain (which hosts its fleet), where recently a prominent anti-government activist was sentenced for three years for activities on social media. Note the markedly different attitude of State Department's spokeswoman Victoria Nuland in that case, saying that the US government does not comment on sentences "in the middle of the process".  Of course that handy "rule" would not apply to Russia, where the lawyers for the three women from the singer group indicated immediately they would appeal the court's verdict.
     I have shown the problem with the facts about the incidents in the above quotes from Forbes, the Economist, The Guardian and The Telegraph. The coverage has a marked spin and interest to show the Russian authorities as unfair towards the women, and driven by the interest to stifle public protest.  This narrative simply does not play out and significant distortions have to be deployed to sustain the phoney outrage.

     There are, finally at long last, some voices now emerging  trying to inject reality into our understanding of the Pussy Riot trial and sentence. An intelligent view was registered yesterday by Simon Jenkins who understands the hypocritical white-washing the convicted Russian women in the West.  Former New York mayor Ed Koch stood up for the rights of the Russian Orthodox Church in Huff Post. Finally today, National Post's Chris Selley weighed in with some much needed field-levelling comments.

    No civilized society can tolerate an attack on the beliefs of a religious community in its own house. One may criticize religion, and its beliefs, but one cannot deny the right of people to confess, or appropriate from the believers a sanctuary that is theirs,  for acts hurtful to them. Few nations know this better than the Russians.

     We have noted in the title of this post that Pussy Riot ® is now a registered trademark.  As their lawyer explained, it is not for the money. "On the contrary", the communique said, "the group wishes to discourage attempts to use its name to derive profits or promote questionable projects that contradict its ideals and aspirations."   Really ?  Who would have thunk ?!

Sunday, August 19, 2012

The Lying Nun of Lebanon

The picture above was published by Reuters on Aug.15, 2012. It purports to show the effects of a missile attack from a Syrian jet on a residential home in a  rebel-held town of Azaz, near Aleppo. 
Hmmmm...anything suspicious about the scene ?  Oh, you don't see it ?! All right, we'll get back to it.   
We in the West are bombarded daily with information and visual images from war-torn Syria which are to testify to acts of extreme brutality of the regime on its peaceable people. Ok, they are not peaceable now but that is a detail lost in the increasingly disjointed narrative.  It is just that in the beginning, no-one could say in clear conscience that the Syrian security's response to the initial spontaneous, non-violent street protests aginst the Assad regime was measured or justifiable. The sorties by the network of spies and paramilitary assassins working for the regime, dubbed shabihah (or 'ghost' to stress its covert, sinister character) were real and had the single purpose to intimidate the public voice of opposition. That the army, called to disperse larger demonstrations, fired on people in the streets (on orders to keep the casualties low, as has been credibly reported by defectors) also will not be doubted except by the pro-Assad spin doctors. The West was quite right in denouncing Assad and support the political opposition against him.

  However, all has changed with the emergence of an foreign-sponsored and financed armed rebellion in Syria. It was an extremely dubious card to play for a number of reasons.  First, the Syrian Army is a much more cohesive force than Ghadafi's and despite the exaggerated media reports of defections (eg. claimining one thousand officers in a camp on the Turkish side of the border), it remains a largely a force loyal to the regime.  Second, the political landscape is much more favourable to Assad at the moment than anyone else and he clearly is the preferred choice of a large segment of the population. This is not because he is particularly popular but because most Syrians prefer the devil they know to the mayhem and destruction of civil order (however imperfect) that this war surely delivers day in and day out.  Ironically, despite the recent defections, Assad's position may have been consolidated to a degree by the fighting, as large segments of population who actually despise his regime see in his army the only protection they have against the lawlessness the sectarian warfare foists on Syria from the outside by the Saudis, Qatar, the US and its allies.  The view of the rebellion as a Zionist conspiracy, orchestrated by the US and Israel to break up Syria into sectarian cantons in permanent war with each other prevails as the most popular rendering of the conflict inside the country.  The third element conspiring against the conspirators, is the existing infrastructure which provides social and administrative services. The public service workforce remains loyal to Assad since he provides livelihood. A very potent incentive, which puts all other considerations in perspective.  This is why reports now abound that the opposition forces are systematically destroying existing facilities (and sometimes their personnel) and trying to supplant them by their own version  of humanitarian aid financed from abroad.

   The Free Syrian Army looks like a bad joke.  It was claimed in the early days of its puported existence (eg. as on this report by al Jazeera) that it was an exclusively Syrian fighting corps composed from Syrian Army deserters.  Again, as in the picture on top this post, such factoid is belied by the rebels themselves. The cri de guerre 'Allahu akhbar' featured in nearly all videos showing FSA's succesful hits or demolition jobs blows the cover. That the jihadi trademark should have been so quickly adopted by the Syrian patriots and freedom fighters is strange, especially since the same 'God-is-great' oath is vocalized also by rag-tag gangs of degenerate homicidal maniacs when killing and mutilating their captives.  So, I for one, am not at all surprised when John Rosenthal questions the reality of an organized force called the FSA.  It appears to be a political and media fantasy. Yes, sure, there are defectors from the Syrian army, but the stockpiles of  Russian-made weapons in Turkey for the rebels (supplied by the Saudis) are a big hint that it is not what it seems but what it can be made to look like.

The Nun from the Borderland

Among those who would not be marching to Hillary Clinton's and Bill Hague's drumbeat, towers one tough Melkite nun.  Her name is Agnès-Mariam de la Croix, and she is the Mother Superior of a convent at Qara, on the Syrian side of the Lebanese border.  She lives now in Beirut, saying she is the target of wrath of both sides in the conflict.  Agnès-Mariam has incurred the wrath of the western media because she accuses western journalists of distorting the facts of the conflict, exaggerating Assad's misdeeds in lapping up naively provocations staged by the rebels, and ignoring the mounting evidence of their large scale intimidations of the population at large, and despicable acts of blood-curdling terrorism.  This of course makes Mother Superior a very unwelcome witness.  As anyone who disagrees with the project of immediate removing Assad regardless of human and material costs, she has become the object of a media jihad, and stands accused of crimes ranging from acting as a blowhorn for the regime to being a murderous conspirator on its behalf.  She is better known in France, as she conducts most of her interviews in French (though she speaks her mind fluently also in in English and Arabic).  The vitriol of the French mass media against her is a thing to behold. She has been dubbed chabiha médiatique (media shabihah), and her known anti-Assad stance dismissed as a part of her cover.  She wrote an open letter to al-Assad expressing her dismay at the mistreatment of people in Syria's hospitals and detention without legal process (i.e. a Syrian Guantanamo). She claims she holds no brief for al-Assad, and calls his pre-insurrectionist regme totalitarian. She admires Ghandi and Nelson Mandela.  Clearly, she could be a secret agent from a conspiracy satire of Ivan Vyskočil, whose cover is so secret she herself is not allowed to know she is an agent. 

     It is not, of course, that Agnès-Mariam's viewpoint is unassailable.  Her political stance is markedly anti-Israel, something given by her conscious Arab identity.  (I have known several Syrian Christians personally and this seems a common trait). Her father was a Palestinian.  The politics she subscribes to on the Israel-Palestinian strife (a shade off the official Vatican line), sometimes leave her in the company of dubious propagandists. Chief among them, Thierry Meyssan of the Voltaire Network, has made a name for himself as a 9/11 and a Beslan massacre truther.  This naturally calls for caution in appraising her facts, but it does not invalidate them by the mere finding that conspiracy theorists find comfort in them.

     For example, her charge that the Houla massacre was the work of the rebels, is not as easily refuted as some of the sophisticates (e.g  Jawad al-Tamini and Philip Smyth in the conservative National Review) convinced themselves.  In contrast to the UN report which implicated the Syrian Army in the gruesome killing of 108 men, women and children, there are at least two versions of events which indict the armed groups that are referred to as the Free Syrian Army.  The earlier one, by Reiner Hermann in Franfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ), identified the victims as families of minority Alawites, that recently converted.  The incident occured when a Syrian Army checkpoint was overrun by a group of armed men who then went to the village outskirts and began a slaughter of the local minority loyal to Assad.   Another German paper, Berliner Morgenpost, offered a variant scenario originating with a witness in Agnès-Mariam's Qara compound.  The overrun of the government positions by the rebels, coincided with the FAZ account but the victims were apparently Sunnis known to be Assad loyalists.  

I am not committed to a definite viewpoint on Houla, in the absence of a politically impartial forensic study of the incident. But I tend to discount the official, UN ratified version.  Here are my observations:

1) The area was not controlled by the regime forces at the time of the massacre or immediately after. It is difficult to imagine that in light of such monstrous attack on humanity, the perps simply turned around and ceded the ground to hostile forces without a fight.  There is no credible narrative of expulsion of the perpetrators from the area of the massacre.  The elaborate staging of the display of the dead bodies and their organized burial also bespeaks of the absence of a combat zone in which an opposite side has just perpetrated heinous acts of barbarism.

2) Anyone on either side of the conflict would have instantly recognized the propaganda effect of dozens of massacred non-combatants. It is therefore hard to credit that in effect no mind was paid by the perpetrators to hiding or removing the evidence of the atrocity, when ceding the area to their enemies. 

3) Many of the bodies were mutilated. While there exists no clear evidence that the regime armed forces or even its militias use this kind of intimidation 'technique', this killing style has been the hallmark for at least some of the opposition jihadi fighters.

Of the two Houla counter-narratives, the identity of the victims as Sunnis strikes me as more probable. For the overthrow of Assad to be successful, the opposition forces are crucially dependent on consolidating support and eliminating opposition among their co-religionists. Note that the spiritual leader of Syria's Sunni majority, the Grand Mufti Sheikh Hassoun is a staunch supporter if not of al-Assad then at least of non-violent transition from his rule. His son Saria was assassinated by unknown gunmen near Idlib in the fall of last year.

What seems clear is that the attempts to discredit Mother Agnès-Mariam, whether they are stupid or sophisticated (a rather crude attemp could be found here - note the dismissive hand-waving of the interviewer.) have one thing in common. They are motivated by the Orwellian dichotomy of us (four legs good) versus them (two legs bad), which makes one impervious to reason and makes it impossible to find a solution to the Syrian crisis before making ordinary people suffer far more than is necessary. 

           The picture at the top of the post speaks to this mentality. Its authors just do not have the wherewithal to see the absurdity of the picture they present: a set of undamaged sofa cushions in a bombed-out building floating above walls and floors crumbled in the explosion.  Surely, someone brought the cushions later and put them on top the spalled masonry to make the point that the building was a civilian dwelling hit by al-Assad's Air Force.  Surely, the scene was staged with the intent of the owners to reclaim the cushions later for their regular use.  But I suppose this would be too hard to see for someone on a warpath. 

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Loving the Enemy and Other Outrages

Much as I would want to follow Jesus and love my enemies, God gave me me brains that tell me that it is an unrealistic demand. One cannot love one's enemies for if one loves them one would not call them enemies, and if one calls them enemies it is not because one loves them. This does not seem obvious even though it should be.

It follows then that one cannot prosecute a killing on a battlefield as murder. One cannot cannot invent a valid legal process for an idea which is not of this world. Whether one agrees with the US position that Geneva protocols do not cover the type of fighting in Aghanistan, one thing is clear.  People make mistakes in firefights and they cost lives.  That one side stops shooting does not obligate the other side to stop. To take a pause in a combat as a sign the enemy is surrendering is foolishness. To lie in wait and to lob a grenade at an opportune moment cannot become murder as a way of exonerating the commanding officer of the opposite side who let his guard down and exposed his men. It is one thing being chivalrous and another thing being stupid. In war, one gives no quarter except if the enemy asks to surrernder. One needs to appreciate the difference between a civilized conduct of war in which passion is restrained by decency, and the newly politicized quasi-Christology which imposes idiotic formulas and rules that encourage the very terrorist insurgency that the politicians promise to extirpate and to which professed aim they put young men and women in harm's way.

An army that is serious about its mission would not spare an enemy soldier who just exacted a savage, purposeless blood tax on its troops. Not even even if its personnel were to find that the gravely injured enemy soldier was very young and apparently spoke English. True soldiers would have to kill him for this reason: on a battlefield such acts are unpardonable. Briskly dispatching an enemy fighting in unlawful manner reassures to one's own soldiers that they are respected and valued and their leadership will not tolerate their being treated as disposable refuse. There is no other way to communicate to the troops the idea that they are there to win a war, and not, as I hinted, engaging the enemy in silly-bugger playing-at-war designed to waste not just horrendous sums of taxpayers' money but their lives as well. As the veteran Lt. Colonel Ralph Peters (Looking for Trouble) said about Omar Khadr "[they] should have killed that punk on the battlefield" after he demonstrated that despite his yound age he was a "hardened killer". They didn't kill him and they restored him to health. Perhaps they hoped he would become an informer. But he didn't turn a traitor like his brother. Evidently he is one tough cookie.

Loving Omar....

The obsessive defending of Khadr, and its handling of facts, is a thing to behold. Despite his own repeated admission to lobbing the grenade which killed Christopher Speer, and his written apology to the widow of the US Army medic, the Khadr truthers have all sorts of ways to deny that is what happened. Typically, they will begin by denying he engaged in any kind of hostility in the skirmish. If that fails, then they deny he threw the grenade that mortally wounded Sgt. Speer. This theory was bolstered for a while by the discovery there was a second survivor in the compound at the time of the explosion. However, the prosecutor admitted the testminoy of the mysterious unnamed witness OC-1, and the Stipulation of Fact signed by Omar Khadr in the deal with the US government in October 2010, duly registered a second combatant in the compound at the time of the grenade throwing incident. It changed nothing on the finding that the grenade was thrown by Omar. But no matter that Khadr admitted to throwing the grenade in a signed statement while represented by a lawyer, i.e. without being coerced to it - in fact he boasted about the act in the early days of his detention. This, in the eyes of the enemy-loving legal experts, means nothing. The Melbourne law professor, Kevin Jon Heller, a specialist in international law (i.a., a defender of Lynne Stewart, the condemned counsel of the Blind Sheikh, and a consulting member of Radovan Karadzic' defense team), opined that Khadr's admission was a move calculated to get him out of Gitmo faster. Well, great ! The problem is: how does one prove a theory, if everyone in it, starting with the one it exculpates, is presumed to lie through their teeth to get what they want ? I am sympathetic, as I have made clear at the start, to the view that the indictment of Khadr is at odds with elemental principles of justice, and the case of "war crimes" against him is phoney baloney. If the facts are as presented, he should have been killed on the spot. The case cooked up against him stinks.  But professor Heller's opinion is clearly over the top as it would make a legal sport out of mind reading. For as Chief Justice Brian observed already in the15th century, "the thought of man shall not be tried, for the devil himself knoweth not the thought of man".
The next favourite defense of Omar Khadr is to portray him as a child soldier. Of course there is no running away from the fact that at the time of his capture he was fifteen and his age would be a consideration in any legal proceedings against him by a civilized court. On the other hand, attempts to portray him as an Disney-loving child abducted into service by his fanatical father strike me as naive in the extreme. It misses two important factual points. Despite Senator Romeo D'Allaire's representations, he was not a child soldier by the standards of UN Convention on the Rights of a Child. Despite the document general definition of a child being a person under eighteen years of age, Article 38 (3) permits the recruitment of adolescents at the age fifteen.

States Parties shall refrain from recruiting any person who has not attained the age of fifteen years into their armed forces. In recruiting among those persons who have attained the age of fifteen years but who have not attained the age of eighteen years, States Parties shall endeavour to give priority to those who are oldest.

Even though Al-Qaeda is not a signatory to the convention, there have not been complaints about child soldiers in their ranks as was the case in the civil wars of Sierra Leone, Cote d'Ivoire, Rwanda, Burundi, Sudan and Uganda or for a while in the PLO of Yasser Arafat. It seems to be  a different military culture.

Two, adolescent hard dicks like Khadr have long been celebrated in martial cultures around the world as a promise of better fighters to come. The idea that a boy of fifteen is a child incapable of executing acts of vicious, calculated violence on his own seems at best ill informed (the great Musashi killed man in a duel at the age of thirteen !) and owing to a distorted sense of reality produced by a life of security and comfort. Often, and the former Canadian general seems himself to be a textbook example of this, the nervous system shaped by our privileged circumstance will not find a competent way to cope with the stresses of the world which rejects the Western idea of civilization. The fact is, and the cited convention recognizes it better than the senator, that some adolescents can become war criminals before they would be allowed to drive a car and drink beer in countries like the US or Canada.  Article 37(a) of the Convention cited above clearly recognizes that some acts of adolescent youths need to be sanctioned severely,  prohibiting only the penalties of death and life imprisonment without parole to be imposed on persons younger than eighteen.

...and Loving to Hate Him

For their part, the commentators on the Right seem to be just as snake-bitten in assessing Omar's crime and punishment. Their spite expresses itself in the initiative to bar Khadr from re-entering Canada. It is a bad tactic because it has "loser" written all over it. There is no legal complaint that Canada has with Omar Khadr. He was born here and he has the right to reside here unless he did something that takes that right away from him. The view that Khadr has forfeited his citizenship has to be demonstrated.  From what I have read and seen, the idea of denying him entry is a gut reaction, not a principled stance.

      The fact of the matter is, the government allowed itself to be played for a fool by the Obama administration in pledging to repatriate Khadr with his US murder sentence not fully served. Given the circumstance, i.e. the Military Commissions Act of 2009 being an instrument allowing the US authorities to conceal evidence on grounds of national security, it was nothing if not foolish for the minister to agree to take Khadr without full disclosure and a negotiated quid pro quo effected in advance of giving assent to the agreement. Interestingly, Coren, Levant, Steyn, etc. have not touched on this "ommission" of Harper's foreign ministry under Maxime Bernier which may be as grave as Major Watt allowing his men to approach the compound at Ayub Kheil without adequate reconnaisance. (And this even after witnessing two of their interpreters shot in cold blood by men in the compound !)

Vic Toews' insisting he wants to see additional tapes and the full record of the Khadr interrogation by Michael Welner, the prosecution psychiatrist, would under normal circumstances be due diligence and perfectly in order. The problem is the Bernier agreement with the US did not stipulate conditions under which it would refuse entry to Khadr prior to serving his full sentence in the U.S. To look for issues now looks bad. What can the records reveal that the government did not know in 2009 ? Why did not the Minister ask for access to Khadr to get a balanced report from a Canadian expert prior to binding itself to early repatriation ? Don't we have any experts on terrorism of our own ? All big questions to me.

Another issue which no-one wishes to touch is Khadr suing the Canadian government for compensation. The Supreme Court of Canada took the position that the Canadian government  breached Omar Khadr's Charter rights by adopting aggressive interrogation style when CSIS agents interviewed him in Guantanamo. At the same time, the justices agreed that the government is under no obligation to repatriate Khadr from US prison. The rulings in effect separates the issue of Khadr's "frequent flier" mistreatment in prison from his right to be in custody of the Government of Canada. I have seen very little in the way public outrage (from the Right) at the nature of this ruling, which in effect asserts that Khadr's rights are being violated continuously by Canadian officials, even though he is not in a Canadian prison. The decision makes the Government of Canada complicit in advance in whatever allegations of mistreatment are claimed on Omar Khadr's behalf. It is saying de facto, "bring him home now or pay him bigger bucks later !" The inability of the high court to gauge the circumstance of Khadr's capture, and appreciate his age development in light of the culture in which he was brought up, is greatly disturbing. Omar Khadr was not deprived of sleep in a case of juvenile swarming of a shopper in a suburban mall.

Be it as it may, to my mind the energy spent in trying to prevent the return of Khadr is misdirected. For one, as noted, it only postpones the inevitable. The delay in acting on the commitment to repatriate Khadr makes look the Conservatives bad, which would not be as much of a problem if they had some good card to play, which of course I don't think they have at the moment.

What Needs to Be Done

We are a secular society governed by laws. By and large, the profound changes in our circumstance due to rapid advances in science and technology, have been reflected in legislative innovations which tackle previously unknown stratagems in the new playing ground. This regrettably has not happened in the parallel dramatical shifts in the social sphere. In the last decade and a half, a new global movement has arisen that seeks to dominate the world under the edicts of a religious faith, a movement whose core values are largely at variance with the traditional values of democracy and the rule of law (as practiced in the West). There are many adherents of this new political creed of islamism in Canada. There are those who do not break Canadian laws in advocating the rule of Islam in the world and of course they should be allowed to advocate any political goals within the established political framework of the country. However, it has become clear over the past decade or so that the islamist political proponents rely on a small groups of militants bent on wreaking havoc and instilling terror into the populace at large. Whether the mosque preachers publicly disown them or not, their goals are identical: to impose the rule of Islam and shariah on everyone, and these goals themselves are a reliable indicator of an ideology which is at sword's point with our traditional governance.  The terrorism in the belief of a caliphate dispensing sharia rulings to everone is implied !

Vic Toews' resources would be much better spent in legislating rather than filibustering. First, the flow of foreign money for building centres of anti-Western agitation, whether mosques or universities needs to be stemmed. And the Saudis and Iranians make that very easy for us to implement. The government should demand full disclosure of financing for Islamic projects and tie the acceptance of them to the reciprocal willingness of the donor's countries to allow the promotion of Western values including unrestricted Christian proselytizing. Is there any other reasonable solution ? I don't see any !

With respect to Khadr, the best way to love the enemy is to forget Khadr, except as an example of our collective incompetence to deal with a clear and present danger to our way of life.
We can't scheme to prevent Khadr from re-entering the country because we would open ourselves to the charge making up rules as we go along, that is abuse of power. That is not smart if you are in power !

What is needed is something like an Act for the Protection of Canada's Interests Abroad, which would spell it out clearly that it is illegal for a holder of a Canadian passport to use the document as a cover, or get-out-of-jail-free card for militant subversion of foreign governments, and/or the planning and execution of terrorist acts on behalf of other states or organizations claiming sovereign rights. Persons convicted of participating in, or planning, insurgency or attacks at large in the acts of terror abroad, would be required by law to serve full term of their incarceration in foreign jurisdictions and be subject to a review of their Canadian citizenship/residency status at the end of their detention. If such person indicates belief in a caliphate and duty as a Muslim which trumps the requirement to behave in a civilized, unprejudiced manner when under protection of Canadian state outside of its territory, then the position of the state should be:  we are ever so sorry but this is not what Canada will tolerate; we are dedicated to an idea of a civilization which allows the freedom of believing and worshipping whatever one wants, as long as one remains a decent human being !

This would be the way to love Khadr, the enemy. Remove our contribution to his schizophrenic sense of identity ! Tell him: you cannot believe as a Canadian that you, as a Muslim, have a duty to fight the infidel, except in demonstrating to the infidel your superiority not just in your courage but also your sense of fairness and generosity. The understanding of, and commitment to the idea that others have rights too even if they disagree with what you believe, is a first step to acquiring that sense.

Anything else we have to consider hopelessly at odds with being a Canadian !