Monday, 26 March 2012

The Iran Israel war. It's probably started long ago on the secret front.

The gloomy prospect of Iran-Israel hostilities over alleged nukes looms large.

Why Israel is likely to act against Iran soon.

by Tom Thorne
The current low key civil war in Syria is ultimately the end of the Assad regime. It is only a matter of time.  The Assad regime has lost its authority and credibility  to govern by using an over the top violent approach to dissonant voices. 
Add a ham fisted approach to constitutional reform to the agenda. Finally using the army pound its alleged dissonant citizens with artillery and mortar fire. The result is a death toll of probably 8,000 people. 
The fascist Ba'ath Party has ruled in both Syria and Iraq for a long time. In Iraq the Ba'ath Party ruler was the now deceased Saddam Hussein. In Syria Ba'ath remains under the control of the Assad family. 
The strength of the Ba'ath experience is that it brought a non-religious government to the middle east but it also brought brutal dictatorships as the price for keeping fundamentalist Muslim aspirations at bay. 
Since Iraq was oil rich this oppressive regime was encouraged by the western powers to keep anti-western groups under control. As a result the oil flowed to the west from Iraq.
The ultimate weakness of the Ba'ath Party is it uses brutal dictatorships to modernize both Syria and Iraq and tamp down Muslim fundamentalism. In true fascist form these governments rule with an iron hand. There is a  stability in place until they are overthrown or undermined. 
In the case of Iraq they experienced US military might and occupation for going too far muscling the Gulf emirates. Once the dictator is disposed as in the case of Saddam Hussein, chaos reigns. That is the case for Iraq and the the US involvement. It may also be the case in Syria after Assad falls.
The experience of post dictatorship chaos is also happening in Egypt, and to some degree in Libya.  Therefore don't expect that there will be some great need for democracy lurking ready to take over from dictatorship once these regimes fall. 
In Egypt the Army remains in control even after the recent parliamentary elections. The Egyptian Army tamps down the impact of the majority received at the polls by the Muslim Brotherhood's political party. The fall of the Mubarak regime has not appreciably changed the status quo 
in Egypt.
In Libya there is a political void as Libyans try to structure a new regime. In Syria a slow boil civil war has started and although the regime is supported by China and Russia its days are numbered. 
The rest of the Middle East wants the status quo to remain. However, change keeps happening everywhere. The Arab Spring? It's more like the Arab Chaos.
That brings us to Iran. Iran is a rogue state threatening to bring nuclear weapons on line in the Middle East. Israel is not about to tolerate this change in the military status quo. Israel the only power in the region with nuclear capability. That is their security ace in the hole.
From a real politick point of view taking out Iran's nuclear abilities is now on the table. It is now a viable option because the arab world is in a lot of turmoil and  not in a position to respond very well to an Israeli attack on Iran.
The Egyptian Army could not be brought into a fight. In addition, Egypt would first have to renounce the peace treaty it has with Israel. The consequences of that decision would mean hostility with Israel. That’s not a good idea at the moment. 
The Jordanians can't do very much alone. Syria is caught up in its internal issues. Libya is also not in a position to stop or contribute to fighting Israel. 
And Israel will simply tighten controls of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank if they take on Iran.  
So this leaves Israel in a position to slow the Iranian nuclear ambitions. It is a good time militarily to knock out Iran. The downside is that Israel can do this without too much fear of attack from surrounding arab states.  For that reason it may prove the moment to take out Iran's nuclear capabilities.
If there is no military attack on Iran's nuclear installations watch for Mossad (Israel's secret service) operations against senior Iranian nuclear technocrats and engineers working for Iran's nuclear program. They will all need a high level of security to go anywhere or leave Iran for any reason.
© Copyright 2012, Tom Thorne, All Rights Reserved

Saturday, 17 March 2012

New Democrats need to move to the centre with the Liberal Party if they want to defeat Stephen Harper.

The New Democratic Party leadership race dramatizes the need in Canada for a strong centralist political party to emerge to counter Stephen Harper's right wing agendas.
by Tom Thorne
When Ed Broadbent, former New Democratic Party (NDP) leader and party guru, attacked Thomas Mulcair the alleged front runner in the NDP leadership race, Broadbent's misguided actions dramatized a major need in Canadian politics. That need is for a centralist political expression to counter the Harper Conservatives. 
As much as I respect Ed Broadbent he is simply wrong if he thinks that the NDP can maintain a separate stance from others who express progressive policies in this country. 
Think about it. Thomas Mulcair expresses a more centralist agenda for the NDP. Ed Broadbent and his candidate Brian Topp represent the NDP status quo. I've got news for the NDP, had Jack Layton lived would have also faced this issue.
With the Liberal Party on the back burner, there is no strong parliamentary force to counter the Harper agenda, although Bob Rae as interim Liberal leader is proving a good foil for Harper government excesses. But it is not enough.
Earlier in this blog about the time of the last election and Jack Layton's unfortunate death, I stated quite clearly that a merger of the Liberal Party and the NDP was inevitable. If that doesn't happen both these parties will dissolve into bowl of red and orange Jello unless a new centralist party springs up to fill the void.
The reason this doesn't happen between the NDP and Liberals is simply baggage from the past gets in the way. It may take another election and another Harper win with only 38 percent of the popular vote, for the so called left and the centre to get their acts together to oppose and replace the Harper right wing agenda.
By the time this happens Harper will have put his conservative stamp on Canada and it will be difficult to undo this move to the right for some time. That is why the Liberals and NDP have to forge first an  alliance in this parliament and ultimately a new political entity that is clearly the enemy of right wing agendas before the next federal election. That would place Harper on notice.
And what are these right wing agendas that need to be opposed? More attention to privilege, more tax breaks for corporations, more doctrinaire approaches to labour settlements which are basically anti union. There will be more prisons and more prisoners serving more time. Guns will go uncontrolled. Social programs for an aging population will be whittled down, Canada on the international stage will remain the laughing stock on human rights, aid, and the environment.
That is the price for supporting separate NDP and Liberal parties. It is clearly time for Canadians to recognize that politics has been polarized in this country and to establish a vital political balance the centralist option has to have a fighting chance at the polls in the next federal election. 
Thomas Mulcair may take a reluctant NDP struggling and kicking towards the centre and that is what the Laurier Street head office NDP establishment fears most. Canadians should have anxiety about this doctrinaire view by the left because it will leave Canada with right wing view of this country.
© Copyright 2012, Tom Thorne, All Rights Reserved 

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

The Hanoski court action gets the Church talking...

The Hanoski court action has set off the healing process at Holy Rosary Parish. It is good to get back into the light again.
by Tom Thorne
Father John Hibbard, Holy Rosary’s pastor, has launched three sessions about sexual abuse in the Catholic Church. For the past two Wednesday evenings this topic has been candidly discussed at the parish with the third session tonight.
This is a healthy start to this hard topic. The church has to deal with sexual abuse and its clerical predators in the open. The first evening Father Hibbard dealt with the process of coping with sexual abuse when it surfaces.
He spoke of denial, reality and finally acceptance all tethered together with a sense of betrayal and anger that the predator has left with the victim, the parish members and the church in general. It is like a yawning void.
The difficulties of resolving such a crisis were discussed. The really hard part is accepting the predator but not what he did. The natural tendency of Christians is to forgive and it is a hard test of this precept to resolve this point for the parish members and the clergy who have to deal with the aftermath and acknowledge the loss of trust.
The most revealing point of the first evening was Father Hibbard’s point that pedophiles have no remorse and the complex psychopathic notions that predators have about their “relationships” with the victim makes it hard to reach them with the extent of the damage they have inflicted on a victim.
A priest who is charged with sexual abuse is removed from all active ministry. Due to legalities there has and continues to be silence which can be seen as covering up. The optics of any one of these cases is poor from a public point of view.
In addition is the financial burdens shouldered by the diocese and the ultimate liabilities when the cases go to court and guilt is established. A criminal action certainly will come with jail time if guilt is established. 
Father Hibbard told of one priest who did jail time for his crimes which was particularly hard on him personally because he had worked with this person as seminary candidate and felt that he had been let down badly. Priests he pointed out are just as human as their parishioners and he had a very difficult time with this situation.
The second week was a session with Sister Francis O’Brian of the Sisters of Providence. Sister O’Brian has counseled both victims and predators. She discussed the problem of sexual abuse as a trauma.  A trauma in your life alters the path of your life. She candidly used the example of her mother’s violent death when she fell down a flight of stairs and died alone.
Sister then took this example of trauma as the base of a sexual abuse experience. It is just as shocking and disjointing and it alters your life. If you are religious then any traumatic experience tests your faith.
She related this level of trauma to the Holy Rosary situation with Father Paul Hamilton’s removal eight years ago and the surfacing of this case in civil court this year. Sister then related this situation to anger, confusion and lack of information experienced attached to the recent case of Father Rene Labelle in Kingston who was recently charged by the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP). In short, there is no easy way to deal with a sexual abuse charge.
Sexual abuse has big effects. There is a loss of self esteem, depression, flashbacks, disassociations and even in her experience self mutilation by victims. Accused priests lose everything. They experience loneliness, they cannot work, and they remain in a silent legal limbo. Even when they are cleared of charges they remain stigmatized.
In an audience discussion afterwards trauma was seen as the best way to adequately describe the aftermath of sexual abuse. Everyone feels a certain powerlessness, vulnerability, and parents have anxieties about how safe their children are at church. 
Father Hibbard candidly answered questions about seminary screening these days to weed out sexual predators. He answered that  the Church denied sexual abuse cases the past as a gut reaction to protecting the organization. He also stated that in his time at seminary celibacy of priests was discussed but very little about sexuality. Certainly there was no course about sexual abuse. In contemporary seminaries all these topics are now on the curricula.
The sessions have been a refreshing examination of sexual abuse issues in the contemporary Catholic Church. These parish sessions go a long way to allowing the issue to surface and ultimately to be dealt with in a candid open fashion. Hopefully in the case of the Hanoski experience we get the know the outcome of that civil court proceeding. To do that the diocese cannot agree to silence after the settlement.
© Copyright, Tom Thorne, All Rights Reserved.