It isn’t just the pepper spray that makes you cry

Wonderful Harper’s Review this week. This short excerpt gives a snapshot of the contradictions and folly our species. Vis:

Protesters with the Occupy Wall Street movement ate donated Thanksgiving dinners in encampments across the country, while occupations in Philadelphia and Los Angeles faced eviction deadlines. “We’ve been sitting around, drinking coffee,” said a Philadelphia occupier. “This is bringing us back together.” In the course of Black Friday sales across the United States, police knocked a grandfather unconscious at a Walmart in Arizona and tasered a man at a Walmart in Alabama; an off-duty police officer pepper-sprayed unruly shoppers at a Walmart in North Carolina; a woman pepper-sprayed fellow shoppers to get to a discounted Xbox 360 at a Walmart in California; and customers rioted over $2 waffle irons at a Walmart in Arkansas. Andrea True, singer of the disco song “More, More, More,” died. I.B.M. noted a downward trend in the height of high-heeled shoes. 

Oh, and before I forget — from the same review:

The Vatican’s chief exorcist warned Catholics about the dangers of yoga. “You think you are doing it for stretching,” said Father Gabriele Amorth, “but it leads to Hinduism.”

Gaddafi dead duck

I don’t think there are too many tears for Muammar Gaddafi or his reign. I am pretty sure that the people of Libya are going to be better off without him.

Without wanting to sound like a popper, his departure does raise a question or two.

One is this: are we happy that a military organization, Nato, designed to keep the people of Europe and North America safe from external threats have been used to effect regime change. For that is what happened.

The UN mandate to protect the civilians of Libya was clearly a fig leaf or a smokescreen or a cover or whatever you want to call it for military action to remove one pain-in-the-arse regime and replace it with one that, er, will do business with French and Qatari and British and American companies instead of Chinese ones — the latter being a sudden preference of Mr Gaddafi’s just before the bombing was decided upon.

Early in the war, you could argue that Nato was fulfilling its mandate but as the war developed and Gaddafi’s heavy weapons were running out and those remaining were targeted at the rebels, not the civilians, the bombing didn’t stop. And when the war passed the tipping point, Nato continued in it’s close support of the NTC forces. When Gaddafi was fleeing Sirte on his last day, it was Nato missiles that reportedly stopped him, though it is not at all clear how his convoy was a threat to civilians in the terms of the UN mandate.

As I say, most people are going to say ‘Who cares?’ and they have a point. However, using Nato as a political-economic tool raises all sorts of difficult questions, not least of which is using the UN to work around international laws, hoodwinking the citizens of the participating countries, the ethics of changing other governments, however horrible, for your convenience, and using violence as a tool of foreign policy.

Would it not be better for all to call a regime change a regime change and argue the toss with the real issues laid out? This would seem to be another item to be discussed at the Occupy protests.