Absrud Lessons from the Ghailani "Terror Verdict"


This week a Federal Court in New York convicted Ahmed Ghailani with conspiracy to destroy federal property, in connection with Al Qaeda terrorist bombing in 1998 in Tanzania and Kenya. He was acquitted of more than 280 other charges relating to the attacks, including murder charges. So the debate has erupted as to whether this constitutes a failure of the attempt to try terrorists in civil courts, or whether it is a vindication of the decision to avoid trying him before the Military Commissions constituted in Guantanamo Bay.

Much has been written, some on the earlier decisions to allow the trial to proceed notwithstanding the torture of the accused and the long delay in trying him; some of it sound analysis of the trial strategies that left the entire issue of torture irrelevant; and much of it ranting about the injustice of the acquittals, and the clear and obvious need to abandon the criminal justice system as a means of dealing with terrorists. There is no need to wade through all the arguments yet again here. But there are some simple thoughts that ought to be expressed in the midst of this debate, simply to ensure that the waves of outrage at the acquittals do not carry the day.

At the core of the argument that the acquittals constituted a travesty of justice, is the idea that any and all evidence should have been relied upon, regardless of whether it had been obtained by torture, no matter whether it was hearsay, or however else it might offend the fundamental principles of due process and our ideas about a fair trial. In essence we should adopt methods that betray our foundational values in order to achieve retribution. This of course would be no justice. It would be vengeance.

And what of the torture? It is so common in this post 9/11 era, when the prior law-breaking of the government contributes to a less than ideal outcome, to attack those who either followed the law or adhered to our values in the final result, rather than acknowledge that the initial sin was the root cause of failure. So here it is the refusal by the court to accept evidence obtained through torture, rather than the initial decision to torture that is to blame. When the unconstitutional wire-tapping of the Bush administration was first disclosed, the right wing attacked The New York Times for carrying the story, rather than the government for its violation of fundamental constitutional rights.

Where does all this lead? Not towards the light at the mouth of Plato's cave, that is for sure. We are descending deeper into the darkness as we proceed to dismantle the framework of the legal and moral system that underpins our democratic system. How else can one explain it, when a highly respected Harvard Law professor, and former Director of the Office of Legal Counsel in the Department of Justice, says that the lesson of the Ghailani trial was not that military commission trials would have been better -- but that in fact we ought not to provide terrorist suspects with a trial at all, but just detain them indefinitely. The unthinkable has become commonplace. -- Gamma.

Harper stands by his man


Stephen Harper, Canada's smug, geeky Prime Minister, has not demonstrated a great capacity for loyalty recently. Disagree with his policies or make him look bad and he doesn't hesitate to throw you over the side. But it is impressive to see him stand behind William Elliott, the first civilian head of the RCMP who has come under fire for his brusque and ride management style. The RCMP has serious cultural and leadership problems, it would be a shame to see the changes that need to be made derailed for insubstantial reasons. Harper may take some political shots for this but he deserves a rare kudos for standing by his man. - Beta

Ground Zero, Islamophobia in America, and the Future of the World


There is probably little to say that hasn't already been said in the so-called debate over the Muslim community center to be built near Ground Zero in New York City. Yet unlike so many other storms in a teacup in the blogesphere, this issue is important - and so lending our voice to maelstrom seems like something of a responsibility.

It is important for two principle reasons. The first has to do with the nature of America, and the direction it is going to take. The second is about the nature of the world, and the direction it is going to take. The two are of course related.

Let us start with the nature of the world.  As others have argued at much greater length, and with considerable eloquence, the natavist attack on Muslims over the proposed community center is a propaganda bonanza for the extreme radical Islamic fundamentalists. It plays to their narrative of a holy war between Islam and the West, in which Muslims in America are less than second class citizens with only the illusion of rights and a legitimate place in society. Even without Al Qaeda or anyone else having to raise a finger, the poisonous invective being heaped on Islam by the anti-Mosque crowd is likely to create anger in all Muslims, and to tip some into thinking about seeking out radical movements. To the extent that the anti-Mosque cabal is successful, the greater the potential damage will be.

That in turn, of course, has an impact on the nature of the world, in the sense that the more the so-called "global war on terrorism" morphs into a decades-long conflict between Western anti-terrorist forces and increasingly radicalized Muslim extremists, homegrown and all over the world, the more we risk sliding into a truly new dominant paradigm that will make the Cold War look downright tame and attractive by comparison. We keep turning the screw, increasing the downward spiral, militarizing and radicalizing, responding to terrorism and its threat in ways that play precisely to the terrorists' strategic objectives, and contrary to our long term interests.

The Alternative List


Taste is a funny thing at the best of times, lack of taste even funnier. Not surprisingly, Gamma and I disagree on what makes the top ten. I don't quibble with Bridge over the River Kwai, Das Boot and Apocalypse Now (not the undisciplined Redux reboot). I recognise The Thin Red Line, Dr. Stranglelove, The Deer Hunter and Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence for being good movies, even great movies but they wouldn't make my list. They lack something. Patton is terribly over-rated. Henry V doesn't cut it. And Ghandi ain't a war movie no matter how hard you twist it.

I would nominate the following for consideration for elevation to the list of the all-time great war movies:

The Americanization of Emily. This is movie that his slipped off our cultural radar. It is funny, charming and clever. The legendary Paddy Chayefsky's script demonstrates how satire can be subtle and effective, a lesson that Dr. Strangelove might learn. In Emily, James Garner plays a scam artist and self-procalimed coward who revels in his corrupt lifestyle. He falls in love with Julie Andrews, a young war widow and gets caught up in mentally unstable Admiral's scheme to keep the Navy relevant after the war to make the first dead man on Omaha Beach a sailor.

 Battleground. Despite the black and white this is one of the first modern war movies. It presents a realistic account of the 101st Airborne during the Seige of Bastogne. Robert Pirosh, who was a gag writer for the Marx brothers before serving in the Battle of the Bulge himself, wrote a movie that showed a culturally diverse group of American soldiers scared, scheming to go home, cold, critical of authority and only occasionally brave.

 Three Kings. How soon we forget... remember the last time we left Iraq? Set in the savagery of the failed Sunni uprising, an "Iraqi ass map" leads a group of soldiers to a cache of hidden gold. Again, David O. Russel, with a great performance from George Clooney shows that satire does not have to be over the top to be funny.

Stalag 17. Written by Donald Bevan and Edmund Trzcinski and based on their own experiences as prisoners of war, it is a story that carries particular weight in these paranoid times. Billy Wilder coaxes a brilliant performance from William Holden as Sefton, a cynical, scheming prisoner who always has an angle or odds on anything and everything. He is disliked but necessary to life in the camp. When circumstances reveal that one of the prisoners is a traitor, suspicion falls on Sefton and he is reviled and threatened and must uncover the real traitor before its too late.


 Boys in Company C. Released in 1978 when the wounds of Vietnam were still festering, this movie presented the war in all its unpleasant, ambivalent, gory detail. This is a movie that was overshadowed by the next generation of Vietnam war movies but stands up favourably to them.

 M*A*S*H  Robert Altman's chaotic corralling of the acting talents of Donald Sutherland, Robert Duvall, Elliott Gould and Sally Kellerman produced one of the funniest movies of all time. M*A*S*H is the blackest of black comedies about war. doctors, nurses and football and is fresh and funny with every viewing.

The Top 10 War Movies of All Time


Last year we had a debate on the top ten law movies of all time. Despite the sniping, we actually had a fair amount of agreement. So this year, we just offer a straight up list, with commentary but no debate. At the end, we offer our pick for the worst ever for good measure.

But what are the criteria? There are different kinds of war movies, some large in scale, others intimate, some anti-war others glorifying it - how to decide? Our list includes some of all of these, and our approach has been simply to select great movies that have as their subject various aspects of war. It was a very difficult task whittling the list down to 10, and many fantastic movies were left on the cutting room floor.

No. 1. - The Thin Red Line: A surprising choice for many no doubt, but this is a movie that at once captures the horror, the insanity, and pointlessness of war, while at the same time managing to beautifully and subtly explore the deeper philosophical questions of whether war is an aberration of nature, or just another manifestation of it. A brilliant movie, nominated for a best-picture Oscar, which ultimately lost to one of our pics for worst war movies ever.

No. 2. - Apocalypse Now: This really doesn't need much explanation. The brilliant remake of Conrad's Heart of Darkness continues to be a classic, long after the Vietnam war obsession has faded. We'll leave aside the debate over which is better, the original, or Redux.

No. 3. - Dr. Strangelove: Stanley Kubrick's classic Cold War movie, in which Peter Sellers plays three different characters, and George C. Scott (see Patton below), plays the hard-drinking, hard-loving general ready for war with the Ruskies. The movie is a brilliant satire on the logic behind nuclear deterrence and mutual assured destruction, still very relevant today.

Rights and Gay Marriage


As everyone in North America knows by now, a federal district court in California struck down the law banning gay marriage (popularly known as Proposition 8). This is surely to be hailed as an important blow for human rights and the rule of law in the United States, though of course the decision has already been appealed, and will no doubt end in the Supreme Court. Less well known, is that on Thursday the Supreme Court in Mexico also upheld the constitutionality of same-sex marriage in an 8-2 decision. Mexico is the third country, after Canada and Argentina, in the Americas to fully recognize same-sex marriage.

Yet amongst all the debate in the United States there continues to be confusion over the nature of the core issues invoked by the same-sex marriage cases. The New York Times editorial the next day reflected it perfectly, passionately asserting that "marriage is a constitutional right," while inside the paper was analysis of whether the political right to marry constituted a "civil right." Meanwhile on the right there are shrill screams that the Constitution contains no "right to marry," and that this is just more judicial re-writing of the constitution (continued....).

Canada and the U.S. Get Involved in U.A.E. / RIM Negotiation


Earlier this week, I called for western governments to involve themselves in the U.A.E. dispute. When The Radix talks, governments listen.

International Rule of Law Shows Some Teeth


There was a time in this fair land when beating an extradition beef was not so difficult. You could attack the case against you and get the moral high ground.  In recent years that has changed and, if you are in Canada and a foreign government wants you, it's just a matter of time. Nothing short of the death penalty or a shocking abuse of process is required. It doesn't matter how weak the case or how corrupt the government.

In this context, it is interesting to see Justice Christopher Speyer of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice quash the extradition request for Abdullah Khadr. Justice Speyer ruled that the illegal arrest and detention and interrogation of Khadr, a violation of international law,  required the extraordinary remedy of refusing the American request to extradite him.

Khadr is unquestionably a terrorist and member of Al Qaeda. The Americans lose an opportunity to bring him to justice because of their own complete disregard for justice and the rule of law. It ain't pretty but that is how these things are supposed to work. It is the golden thread that runs through societies founded on, and concerned with preserving, the rule of law. And the decision is made by an independent arbiter. The check on their illegal behaviour is public. And, get this, it is made in a duly constituted and constitutionally sound court of law.

Such shocking innovation in the great white north. - Beta

Circling the Idiot Wagons in Canada


So, my libertarian vertebrae are slightly bothered by the threat to individual liberty for failing to fill out the long-form census. I'll admit it. Surely, the remedy for that is to create financial incentives or disincentives and removing the power to imprison. Hell, I bet there are twenty better things to do than simply sending the form out and hoping for the best in the face of unified cries of protest that this will produce bad data.

But in a dazzling burst of self-defeating logic and sheer idiocy, Stockwell Day, the President of the Treasury Board (and what is that?...see here) today tried to make sense of the census in the face of a barrage of pointed questions by reporters.  In doing so he argued that the extra data obtained from the long-form census was not necessary. Then, in what he took to be an unrelated issue, in order to justify the costs of building more prisons, he claimed that the statistics showing the crime rate in decline are not reliable. And that he has access to statistics that show that the rate of unreported crime has been increasing at "alarming" rates. Which means that the rates of people reporting that they are not reporting crime is increasing?

So, the current data on crime is false and misleading. Therefore, the thing to do is sabotage the long-form census to ensure that all of the data we rely on to make decisions is bad.  Oh, and don't worry, the government is keeping its own secret data that just happens to support its otherwise inexplicable decision making. Got it?

And these dudes lead in the polls. - Beta

Rights in Motion


Yesterday, I wrote about how the failure of governments to directly advance the extension of political rights as part of their globalisation agenda left trans-national corporations to make side deals with corrupt or oppressive governments. In this article in the Globe and Mail, some of those deals are discussed. Do you really want R.I.M. and the Indian government deciding your rights for you? Don't you want a seat at that table? - Beta

Million Dollar Idea # 1: Free for the Taking


As digital books sales overtake and surpass the sale of actual...uh... analog (?) books, there is much lamentation and gnashing of teeth. One of the common themes is that you won't be able to see what people are reading on the subway, the park bench or even on their bookshelf. Slate's Mark Oppenheimer has a nice little piece here on how this will lead to geeky guys getting even less action.

Like every thing else in our world, this is a problem only because there isn't an app for it yet. Come on book nerds, pull your head out of Quicksilver and get working on the code for the new bluetooth broadcasting "What Am I Reading" App.

It should have three settings: one, what I'm actually reading; two, what I want you to think I'm reading (you could hide the Star Trek novels and broadcast your love of Anne-Marie MacDonald); and, three, access to my entire digital library. Suddenly a subway ride can become a bluetooth enabled geek lovefest.

And then sell it to Amazon to bundle with book purchases. Buy two new titles get the app for free.

Now leave me alone, I have to find the dust jacket of The Bell Jar that I slip over my iPad on the subway. - Beta

Ban U.A.E.


I have been a proponent of global trade and integrated global institutions for some time. Not only did it serve my self-interest - I want to live in a wealthy stable democracy. But it also served a broader interest - economic freedoms tend to force political freedoms, political freedoms produce democracies and democracies tend not to fight wars with other democracies. I'll admit it: I want peace in our time.

The news yesterday that the United Arab Emirates is going to ban the use of email and texting on Blackberry phones forces a bit of a rethink. As with the case of Google in China, we're seeing developing countries looking to have their cake and eat it too. They want some of the benefits of economic freedoms but look to control or limit the associated technology the can support the exercise of political freedoms.

Governments who want to continue to sell global integration both in the economic and security matters have been become lax about linking their actions with the clear moral purpose of furthering the growth of political freedoms. They've been content to let individual companies negotiate their own side deals with oppressive regimes. It's time that this changes. The leaders of the west and of the globalisation ideology need to explicitly align their diplomatic and economic force with the narrow interests of a few companies to support this broader purpose. (Continued...)

The Spanish Civil War and the Global War on Terror


There is ever increasing evidence of citizens and long-term residents of Western democracies picking up and heading off to Pakistan, Somalia, Yemen, and Afghanistan, to do their bit in the so-called "global war on terror". Not to strike a blow against terrorists mind you, but to contribute what they can to the efforts to resist a perceived war on Islam. Just this week, two more such young men were arrested in the U.S., allegedly with plans to go to Somalia to assist the Shabab of all groups.

The right-wing will leverage such news to demonize Islam and its adherents. But that would be a mistake. What is important to understand is the extent to which the characterization as a global war what should be a narrow conflict with an extreme terrorist organization, often using language reminiscent of crusades, has radicalized people and romanticized the struggle. In a sense the global war on terror has become the Spanish Civil War of our age, but on a global scale. (Continued...)

Double Standards and Supporting Terrorism


Ronald Reagan made famous the aphorism that "one man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter." He was actually criticizing the idea, and yet in the post-9/11 world the double standard that is at the heart of the idea is of vital importance - and it appears to be alive and well in U.S. law and policy.

Consider that earlier this month the Supreme Court of the United States handed down its judgment in Holder v. Humanitarian Law Project, in which it upheld a law that made it a criminal offense to "knowingly provide material support or resources to a foreign terrorist organization." The key issue in the case before the Court was the scope of the term "material support or resources", which was defined to include not only financial and logistical support, weapons, training, and the like, but also "expert advice or assistance". Such "expert advice or assistance" was argued to encompass legal advice or even the provision to political arms of such organizations (such as the PKK in Turkey or the Tamil Tigers in Sri Lanka) explanations regarding international law and human rights, and peaceful dispute resolution mechanisms. The argument before the Court was that the law violated the freedom of speech rights of the First Amendment. The Court, in a 6-3 judgment, held the law to be constitutional, and thus affirmed that the professional communication with persons who are members of such organizations is support for a terrorist organization in violation of federal criminal law.

This is of course not an abstract matter.(continued...)

Xenophobia in Arizona


How SB1070 is Discriminatory

Immigration was brought to the front of the political agenda within days of the Arizona Senate passing Senate Bill 1070, formally titled "Support our Law Enforcement and Neighborhoods Act". There have been demonstrations against it all over the country, and passionate support for it at home in Arizona. Senator John McCain felt compelled to add his voice to the defense of the bill.

Those defending the law argue that all it does is seek to enforce the Federal immigration laws. They dismiss the claims that it is racist or that it will lead to racial profiling, pointing in particular to one section that explicitly prohibits investigations based solely on racial grounds. All of this is disingenuous, but it is getting by in the mainstream media because no one seems able to explain how the law will actually lead to discrimination, not just against those who are not lawfully in the country, but even those who are.

Let us take a look at just a few of the provisions.

Missing the Target


We live in an age obsessed with peeling the onion, with digging into the secrets and mysteries that our forebears accepted. While weaker institutions have been pierced by our obsessive desire to scrutinize, the Church has resisted all efforts to bring it into the light. It has held tighter than a clam. Will the recent attacks (including Christopher Hitchens' call for his arrest) on Pope Benedict about his role in covering up the abuse of children by priests, his refusal to punish the offenders and his efforts to shield them from investigation and punishment by secular authorities change this?

Not likely.

So long as Benedict is the target of the criticism the Church will be able to roll with the punches. The attempts to tie him directly to the cover-up of such abuse are damaging, for sure, but they fall short of the kind of information that would force change. Not a terribly popular man or pope, the attacks may even allow Benedict to strengthen his position as he comes to be seen as a martyr for a larger cause: the protection of the reputation of the man who bears the most responsibility for the Church's enabling and protection of sexually predatory priests. And that of course is Pope John Paul II.

In its long history, the Catholic Church has inflicted an awful lot of pain and misery on an awful lot of people. From the perspective of sheer magnitude, such high profile crimes like the Inquisition, its attack on enlightenment, its support of Fascism, its negligence regarding the spread of HIV and its long tradition of virulent anti-Semitism capture the public's imagination and provide fodder for conspiracy theories of all shapes and sizes. But, and I say this as the scion of an Irish and French Canadian catholic family tree, the Mother Church has reserved her most brutal side for its own believers.

Most of this brutality has been banal on the surface as compared to the more spectacular behavior discussed above.

Israeli Settlements and American Security


Once again the Israeli policy and practice of constructing settlements in the West Bank is undermining the peace process, and causing a rift in US-Israeli relations. Prime Minister Netanyahu is defiantly rejecting US demands that he stop recently announced plans to build yet another Israeli apartment complex in Eastern Jerusalem, and there is intense pressure on the Obama administration to back off and paper over the difference. It should not do so.

The occupied territories of the West Bank were captured by Israel in the 1967 war against Egypt and Jordan. The continued occupation is in violation of the international law principle against the acquisition of territory by conquest. It has been condemned as such time and again by resolutions of the United Nations Security Council, often with affirmative votes by the United States. Its illegality has been confirmed by the International Court of Justice. Yet Israel not only continues to occupy it, but over decades has sought to colonize parts of the territory, including Eastern Jerusalem, as part of a plan to change the "facts on the ground", such that when the state of Palestine is eventually established, it will be impossible to return these settled areas to the Palestinians. There are now over 300,000 Israeli's living in settlements within the occupied territories, many of them within the controversial "security barrier" built by Israel in the last decade.

As has been pointed out recently, the change in the political context is that Israelis no longer think that land-for-peace is essential to Israeli interests, while peace and a two-state solution is increasingly seen by Americans as essential to US national security.

Sayonara to Tuna


On Thursday the United Nations conference on endangered species soundly rejected the tabled proposal to ban international trade in buefin tuna. The vote was taken by delegates to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, commonly referred to as CITES. The vote was 68-20 against, with 30 abstentions.

The bluefin tuna stocks around the world are understood to be in catastrophic decline. There are two separate stocks in the Atlantic, and recent studies show that the Western Atlantic stock declined by 82% between 1970-2007, while the Eastern Atlantic and Mediterranean Stock has declined almost 75% since the 1950s, and is still in free-fall.

The Japanese consume more than 80% of all the Atlantic bluefin tuna catch, and the Japanese government pulled out all stops to defeat the resolution.

Politics, War, and "The Hurt Locker"


The Hurt Locker, the tightly coiled drama of a bomb-disposal unit in Iraq, walked off with the Oscar for best picture last week, leaving the celluloid colossus Avatar in the dust. In truth, The Hurt Locker was the better film. But it was also touted as being the more genuine and honest film, the more so because it was so apolitical. Avatar, while set on another planet in a different age, was simplistically and transparently political and anti-war in the "white guilt genre". Similarly, The Hurt Locker has been compared favourably with the simplistic and political Green Zone, as a movie that was capable of nuance and complexity precisely because it was apolitical.

I want to suggest that it is nothing of the sort. While the director has denied any political agenda, the movie can clearly be viewed as a powerful allegory, and was likely written as such. It begins with the sombre warning that "war can be addictive", and the movie unfolds to depict the extent to which the main protagonist, Sgt. William James, has become addicted to the adrenalin rush of combat and bomb disposal. He becomes increasingly reckless as he seeks out new hits, and puts the lives of himself and others in danger to get his fix. The movie ends with his return to Iraq for yet another tour, after finding himself incapable of adjusting to family and civil society back home.

In the tradition of such other war movies as Indochine and the Quiet American, Sgt. James can be seen as an allegory for a country, in this case the United States - a nation that has become addicted to war, increasingly proficient but reckless in its conduct of armed conflict, and incapable of returning to mundane aspects of peaceful civil society.

Whither China-US Relations


1. Storm Warnings
2. Chinese_Democracy

1. Storm Warnings

As the old seafarers' saying goes, "red sky at morning, sailors take warning". The sky over China-US relations is a deepening red these days. In contrast to recent presidents, who all got off to rocky starts with China, the Obama administration had a relatively calm first year. But it belied structural issues that are revealing themselves now.

It was not without its difficulties of course. Hillary Clinton laid seeds of discord by signalling early on that human rights would not be allowed to get in the way of other issues. That gave the Chinese license to dismiss the issue entirely. The US was seen to have lost control of Obama's visit to China, and he was effectively muzzled in a way that rankled the American side. Obama was similarly snubbed and blind-sided by the Chinese at Copenhagen, in a way that ruffled feathers within the US administration. All of this reflected both a recognition of China's increasing power and influence in the world, and the resulting development of some swagger and arrogance on the part of the Chinese.

That shift in the power differential complicates longstanding issues and some new ones. The sale of arms to Taiwan has, as usual, caused a rift.

Haiti After the Earthquake


1. Heroism and Hypocrisy
2. Hypocrisy and Complexity

1. Heroism and Hypocrisy

There are three sets of heroes that have revealed themselves in the aftermath of the devastation in Haiti. They deserve our attention and praise.

The first heroes are the people of Port-au-Prince and other affected areas in Haiti. While the international efforts to get aid to Haiti have made the headlines, the people on the ground have endured unimaginable horror and desperation in the wake of the earthquake. The buildings in Port-au-Prince fell just before 5:00 p.m. Less than an hour later the sun set and darkness fell. Through that first long night and the days and nights that have followed, Haitians have pulled friends and loved ones out of the rubble, formed communities to share food and water and have led the call for faster and more effective aid.

The second set of heroes are the international aid workers who hit the ground so soon after earthquake. Whether they are nurses, doctors, medics, soldiers, police officers, or other recovery experts they are, no doubt, the first wave of an army of internationals that will pass through Haiti over the next 20 years. And there's is a terrible, terrible job. The accounts of the horrors of the first days are chilling. Amidst all the journalistic spectacle that followed the earthquake and the over-the-top first person narratives of reporters on the scene, the men and women providing aid have quietly and bravely dealt with experiences that will haunt them for the rest of their lives.

The third set of heroes is the people who have given so much money to international aid groups.

Reactions to the Xmas Bomber


1. The Laws of War and the "War on Terror"
2. The Law's Obligation to be Relevant
3. War on the Rule of Law

1. The Laws of War and the "War on Terror"

The first decade of the new millennium ended with an echo of how it had begun - with a terrorist attack on an airliner over American airspace. The reaction was swift, strong, and diverse. It ranged from increased security measures, including singling out specific countries and nationalities for increased scrutiny, breathless inquiries into how the intelligence and security systems failed, through to increased focus on the activities of groups affiliated with Al Qaeda in Yemen. Some recognition that there may have been an overreaction, at least on the part of the press, has finally started to creep into themedia analysis.

Perhaps the most disturbing aspect is the return to the "war on terror". There were shrill cries from the right, led by the never-fading Dick Cheney, that Obama was "pretending we are not at war". The 23 year old Nigerian would-be bomber should be dealt with as an unlawful enemy combatant under the laws of war! It was an outrage, they argued, indict him under the criminal law, allowing him access to counsel and Miranda rights. Speed was of the essence in "interrogating" him to for intelligence.

Bush famously claimed that the United States was engaged in a War on Terror.

The Waning of the Golden Age


1. The Raw and the Cooked
2. The Half-Baked and the Full Monty
3. The Long and the Short

1. The Raw and the Cooked

The Radix's 2009 annual general meeting was held on Old Year's Night at a sushi bar in a world class city in the north. As I watched Gamma (over) indulging in sake, the sushi master delivered a series of small masterpieces. Tuna. Eel. Butterfish. Salmon. Cut briskly and with purpose and hospitality. And as Gamma lapsed into a light stupor, mumbling to himself about past wrongs and slights and days of minor glory long faded, I was washed over with the unmistakable feeling that I was living at the end of an age of opulence and diversity. I might as well have been sitting in Rome as the barbarians were gathering outside the gates.
In less than a generation most wild fish will be a delicacy. We have plumbed the depths of the oceans and have pushed most staple stocks to the very brink. While its a minor tragedy that I will struggle to find a restaurant that will serve me wild Salmon let alone a tasty Chilean Sea Bass, a far greater effect is being felt by the communities across the world that have, for generations, rested their economic and social orders on fishing.

But it is not about the fish.

The erosion of opulence and diversity is seen across Planet Earth. We have, it must be acknowledged, exceeded the carrying capacity of our planet. Climate change and its associated ills are not the problem but symptoms of there simply being way too many of us. And as we spill out of our teeming cities and claw the last of the oil out of the poisoned ground, we should acknowledge that the good times are over.

We will survive for a long time. We are are a tough and pernicious species.


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