Thursday, September 13, 2012

Dead Ambassadors - US launches Operation Blowback

The recent protests in Benghazi and Egypt against the anti-islamic film "Innocence of Muslims", throws into the spotlight the shortcomings of the "War on Terror". The West's bombing campaign in Libya desperately sought to intervene and subvert the Arab Spring which has overthrown several US backed dictators. Yet the obtainment of freedom and democracy such as that in Tunisia and Egypt must be the sole act of the people alone. It seems fairly clear that Western bombs in Libya, as in Afghanistan and Iraq, do little more than kill people, spread chaos and create opposition. Additionally the West, in ideological justification for their War against a largely Muslim world, has engendered the spread of crude, racist propaganda. There is a case of artistic freedom to be made for instance in the prosecution of Polish artist Krzysztof Kuszej who depicted child abuse carried out by the Catholic church. In contrast, caricatures of the Prophet originating from the West and designed to do no more than provoke outrage and embolden racist bigots, bear much more resemblance to the caricature of Jews that proliferated in the West in the 1930s. It serves the purposes of war and  distracts ones own population from endless economic crises. That is why the Western states engaged in permanent war against a permanently imagined enemy do nothing about them, beyond paying lip service.

The West has its apologists though. Ed Husain, writing in the London Evening Standard Sep 13, rails against the backwardness of angry muslims in the middle east/north africa and contrasts that with the happy peace-loving sort in the UK that are lucky enough to be stopped and searched twice as often as white people. Violence is to be abhored, it corrupts the perpetrator as much as it demeans the victim, which must be part of the reason why the suicide rate amongst serving US soldiers in Afghanistan is so high. Imagine, if you are able to as a "lucky" Western person, what it must be like to live under a Western-backed regime that tortures you and your relatives for decades, then have your life bombed upside down by Western warplanes to have a new set of besuited market-friendly autocrats installed whom proceed to do pretty much the same thing as before. And to witness the not-so-distant "enlightened" Europeans treatment of the Jews on one hand and the ongoing, imperialist backed Zionist mission to dispossess Arabs on the other? If the orientalist West wants to suffuse muslims with the light generated by their good selves, then perhaps they should bring the troops home from Afghanistan, cease the murder-by-drone meted out on a daily basis and stop threatening to bomb Iran back to the Stone Age.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

The Chauvinist Games - Alternative medal table

The throat-swelling, gagging, puking spectacle that is the Olympic Games has us in its mind numbing grasp yet again. As usual, the inequalities that exist in the world end up being reflected in the games in myriad ways that could be written about at length. For instance, that Chinese swimmers, badminton players and cyclists (not to mention Algerian 800m runners) seem to get the rough end of the stick, whereas home nation cycling teams seem to be able to take advantage of a liberal interpretation of the rules. "When they do it, its cheating. When we do it, its tactics", as one British newspaper article put it recently.

But here I submit a simple visual aid - The Alternative Medal table.

My premise is very simple, that the wealth of a country (or relative lack thereof) measured by its GDP per capita, should be used to weight the medal tally. In some simple way this is a measure of the amount of funding available to train an athlete, even given the inequities that exist within nations. In any case It should be a better measure of the performance of a country than a simple "flat" medal table. I make a further subversive leap in taking the total medal tally rather than weighting gold as more valuable than silver etc. This is partly because I hate the "winner-takes -all, second-placers-can-expect-to-have-their-countries-invaded" ethos that infects the proceedings.

Anyway for what its worth, here is my alternative list current of 7th August, and I endeavour to keep it updated until we can all get back to the usual round of economic crisis, war and hopefully revolution.

UPDATE: I noticed since I put this around 24 hours or so ago, that the Guardian now have statistical material amounting to Alternative Medal tables on their website. However none of their combinations amount to this table here, which is now updated for today's events 

The Olympics 2012 Alternative Medal Table - 7 Aug.