Mea culpa (fortasse)

Interesting op-ed piece in the L.A. Times from Robert McNamara, who served as secretary of defense under JFK and LBJ. In the piece, McNamara admits that as SoD he was responsible for some pretty gruesome activities in Vietnam, including Agent Orange. His point is that the US should participate without reserve in the International Criminal Court and should operate under an international set of rules of war.
Chances are, of course, that McNamara’s voice will go ignored. The US has resisted participation in the ICC because it fears not only that American soldiers be under scrutiny and vulnerable to indictment, but also that “the court might prosecute the president or other civilian or military leaders.” In other words, US presidents would be afraid to order “legitimate but controversial uses of force to protect world peace.”
McNamara, who obviously believes that he personally could well be prosecuted, nonetheless advocates American participation, because he also believes “that the human race desperately needs an agreed-upon system of jurisprudence that tells us what conduct by political and military leaders is right and what is wrong.”
According to McNamara, the Bush league is concerned that the US administration, from top to bottom, could find itself hopelessly mired in “frivolous or unfair” ICC cases. McNamara points out, however, that it is possible for the US to get on board and then negotiate protection against such cases – which is apparently what Clinton had in mind when he signed the ICC treaty on Dec. 31, 2000.
Canada’s participation in the ICC, beginning with the Crimes Against Humanity and War Crimes Act, is perhaps one more reason the US perception (when there is one) of Canada is less than generous. Militarily, Canada is an international, if underfunded and disregarded, player. We participate in UN-backed coalitions, for instance. And, if our cooperation with the ICC is any indication, we’re willing to subscribe to and live by an agreed-upon [international] system of jurisprudence.
But what do we know? We’re just a bunch of pot-smoking fag hags, right?

So what was the point?

I’ve never really been passionate about the whole ‘one island, one city’ debate. My life as a Montrealer and a Verdunite has not changed significantly since the infamous merger. It likely would not change if the newly-elected Liberals make good on their almost-promise to inflict demergers on us.
However, double dealing gets my goat (and my tax dollars). Apparently, Montreal mayor Gerald Tremblay and his executive are now mulling over the idea of extending taxation powers to the boroughs (which is what we’re now calling the former municipalities).
As I said, this issue has never been a hot one for me – but I do vaguely remember that one of the pro-merger arguments was that the island residents would be taxed on a more or less standard, proportionate, universal rate. Extending the perogative of taxation to the boroughs effectively destroys that argument – so we’re left with the same old disproportionate taxes, but without municipal muscle to back it up. Dollard-des-Ormeaux will be able to fix its potholes and so on, but will still be a little borough in a big city.
As a Quebecer, I’m naturally gunshy when it comes to referenda, but in the municipal merger case, I’ve always held that the problem is lack of public consultation. Pro- and anti-merger factions should be compelled to make their argument to the people who actually live on this island, and those arguments should include dollars and cents – just how much have we spent on mergers? What would it cost to implement demergers? What are the real, quantifiable benefits of ‘one island, one city?’ Give us some input, some facts, and some power beyond voting for ‘anyone but Bourque.’
Also in today’s paper: rich people say “money does, in fact, buy happiness. Also, nya na na na na.”

While we’re at it

And what’s the deal with Alexa McDonough and her handy blue box? Are we supposed to think that she was actually inspired by the speech to pop into a nearby office and grab a conveniently empty recycling box?
I thought the NDP were above such theatrics. While the point may be valid, I for one was completely unimpressed with McDonough’s use of props. Does she think that we need a visual aid to understand her point? The fact that just about every non-Liberal MP and most pundits used “recycled” as the key word to describe the Throne Speech just made her seem all the more small-time when she held up her plastic pal for the cameras. No one else felt it necessary to provide a physical manifestation of their point.
He’s done it again
So, L. Ian MacDonald has managed to get me riled again. In today’s Gazette, he claims that only in Canada would the non-renewal of the contract between a sportscaster (namely, Ron MacLean) and a network (i.e., the CBC) get front-page coverage in both national newspapers, taking precedence over the Throne Speech. As a comparison, he questions whether U.S. president GWB’s State of the Union address would have been overshadowed by a similar falling out between some guy I’ve never heard of and FOX.
But, I ask you, what if the American counterparts were Bob Costas and NBC? I suspect that Americans are as blase about their politicians as we are about ours. Not to mention that, as MacDonald himself points out (as did many others a day earlier), the Throne Speech was not exactly the Magna Carta, given that there’s not much new or radical or particularly explosive in what Chretien has laid out as his “legacy” plan.

He ain’t pretty, he’s my PM

L. Ian McDonald trashed the Prime Minister today regarding Chretien’s remarks before the UN and in various other venues. Chretien said, in reference to 9-11, that poverty in the rest of the world breeds contempt for the richer nations. McDonald and other critics have been blasting him for this, claiming that he’s blaming the victims.
What these critics are overlooking is the fact that Chretien is right. Granted, Bin Laden and many members of his organization and others like it are at least comfortable, if not wealthy. But it’s not that simple. I’ve heard reports that while Palestinians in the West Bank have to ration their water, their Jewish neighbors in the Israeli settlements are obliviously washing their cars, filling their swimming pools and watering their lawns. The average Palestinian is not Bin Laden-wealthy, and aside from having to live in poverty, suffers the indignity of watching the neighbors live high on the hog (kosher restrictions notwithstanding). To make matters worse, Israel is consistently portrayed better than Palestine in the Western media. No wonder extremist factions thrive!
My almost-five-year-old son, Colin, has a habit of not listening to my husband and me. Very frequently, we find ourselves screaming at him. Then he gets upset because we’re yelling. The point is, if he listened the first time (or the second or third, for that matter), we wouldn’t have to resort to screaming. Perhaps if more efforts were made to understand the situation in the Chretien context, fewer counter-efforts would be required.