Thursday, June 30, 2005

A suicide note a day keeps the blues away

People take suicide way too seriously. If a person's time to die has come, not one of you can do anything to stop him. Just treat suicide as any other form of death and all will be well. Learn to accept the fact that not all people will go quietly in their sleep, or of ill-health, or, God-forbid, get taken out by an angry postal employee with an Uzi. Death is death; deal with it.

Think about it. People die horrible deaths everyday-from poverty, indifference, ignorance or stupidity. Yet, we give suicide a bad name simply because it is the ultimate act of free will. Suicide victims are not insane or mentally disturbed-they have problems like you and I, and they decide how fate will treat them. It may be that they have given up completely, but, so what? It's their choice. What I can't abide by is someone pushing them into making that choice-hence free will.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

An Open Suicide Note

Dear Everyone,
This will a most perfect Suicide Note. I am not going to blame anyone for what is to pass. I will not blame myself either. I will not blame God, the devil, evil spirits, low spirits or all those commonly referred to causes for suicide.

I can't imagine why anyone would want to take their life. It seems such a cowardly way to avoid taking responsibility. But everyone has their breaking point and I am at mine own. I can't see why it would be a good idea to go on; I have no wife, no children, no girlfriend (or boyfriend, for that matter), no job, no income, very little in the way of success (or failure), my family is disappointed in me, I am disappointed in myself and, most importantly, I do not matter. I am a shadow that everyone sees but does not acknowledge. I am the guy who everyone pretends to know because it assuages their conscience. I doubt they will notice my departure, or the reasons behind it. A year from now, no one will even remember my name or cause of death.

Now tell me, isn't that the only reason to die?

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Win by attrition

I am not a military man, but you win wars by finding and destroying the enemy. Everything else is mere smoke and mirrors. You kill the enemy when you have more forces than he does. Technology is a necessity-better equipment means you can kill more of them than they can of your forces.

What you don't do is deceive yourself that the enemy is not what it is or as large as it is. Bush is burying his head in the sand and deceiving himself that the Iraq War will end soon with an American victory. We invented guerrilla warfare (with US and Soviet assistance) and so we know how effective hit and run campaigns can be. A solution is to reduce the level of violence by a political capitulation. However, in Iraq's case, the insurgents have no stated political demand except the withdrawal of US troops.

The other solution is to fight a smarter war. This is not the smart war of Rummy and co., but one that recognises a guerrilla war for what it is and an adaptation to the same. The US is legendary for the size and expertise of its military, especially the Marines and Special Forces. It is time that they were employed as required.

It is time the US became ruthless and employed the necessary force of will to win this war. More insurgents must be destroyed that their leadership recognises that only annihilation awaits them and not military or political victory. This means more soldiers, more equipment and no timetable for withdrawal. It also means that the 'training of the Iraqi forces' shall have to take a backseat for a while.

History shows that the Vietnam war was lost, inter alia because the US political leadership did not commit the large forces required to win the war. It seems that the US is destined to relive history in Iraq. The myth that smart bombs can win a guerrilla insurgency has been shattered. To win, the US needs more boots on the ground.

Saturday, June 25, 2005

See the Trees and the Woods

I am seriously pissed. I was watching Kudlow on CNBC the other day and even though I ain't an American, that guy's holier-than-thou attittude gets my goat. The way he pontificates as if he's the Voice of God makes me wanna puke. That he's intelligent makes it worse.Whether he likes it or not, being in bed with the al Sauds and Pakistanis will soon be a very bad idea. They aren't democratic and their tyranny is having a very bad effect on the international arena, especially when it comes to the fight against terrorism.

Remember Pakistan and the BCCI debacle? The Saudi's had more 9/11 bombers than anyone else. And to consider them allies today is serioulsy culpable. The politicians and government officials who support these countries should be criminallly indicted and perhaps even prosecuted.Their strategy appears to be: Ignore all the evil-doers out there and kick over little, insignificant countries in a maelstrom of non-activity.

Can any one seriously tell me what the Bushies plan for an end to The War is? Do they even have a plan? The fact that Al Qaeda has a base of operations in Iraq today is precisly becaue of the Invasion, and that Afghanistan is becoming a narco-State precisly because the U.S. invaded Iraq should convince you all that There Is No Plan.

There are nations that have been at the fore-front of the fight against terrorism. I hate to admit this, but the country that has been most successful is Russia. Whether the Bushies like it or not, Chechnya is an internal matter. And unless they are prepared to tactically nuke the Russians, the US can do fuck-all about it. It is that simple. You would have to bomb the Russians 'back to the stone-age' to get them out of Chechnya. They can't afford to lose. And if the West sponsors a Russian defeat in Chechnya, it will have a domino effect in the region, which might impact the US relations with China, India, N Korea and Pakistan. The spectre of all those 'missing' nukes and fissile materials falling into the "wrong" hands should convince all that it's a bad idea to meddle in the Chechen affair.

And now Bush doesn't want to sponsor an African aid revival scheme. That's ok. the Chinese want to expand their influence there and it is inevitable that their limited military presence in the Sudan should soon cover all the important regions in Africa, along with more Chinese investments. This will soon put pressure on the Brits and the French to choose their bed-America or a continued presence in Africa. China will soon be a rival for the west both in asia and in africa, and from the way things are going, in Latin America too. Thay are the ones encircling the globe now, while the US blunders around in the Middle east.

Kibaki's weaknesses will kill him politically

What I can't figure out is why Kibaki simply didn't do what Moi had always done when in power: emasculate all his enemies as soon as they were apparent and even when they showed any potential. And Kibaki's enemies are manifest. You do not have to go outside the NARC tent to find enemies, they are all over the place.

The 2003 Inauguration Ceremony demonstrated that he was indeed weak and that he had no idea of what to do. It can be argued that the reason that he was so listless was that he was coming off a life-threatening accident and therefore couldn't summon up his personal will at that time. If this were true then he should have asserted himself as soon as he was well again and back on his feet. But this is not what happened-instead, he let his Cabinet behave like indisciplined schoolchildren in need of a serious spanking. Moi, even when unwell, was always the undisputed leader and pretenders to his throne were at the greatest risk when he was so indisposed. The contrast with the current Rais is shocking to say the least.

Now that Kibaki has completely destroyed all the goodwill his regime enjoyed in January 2003, what can he do to salvage this fiasco? I would say, it isn't too late to remove all those obstacles in his way to retaining power. Ironically, the one person close to Kibaki who understands the manifest uses of power is Lucy. For a money-hungry shrew, she understands that to be powerful is more important than to be liked. This is a lesson Kibaki needs to take to heart, and quickly.

Kibaki needs to reassert himself. He can only do so by taking over the process of policy making in his Government, setting the agenda for the next two years, and the Cabinet following him. He must get rid of Biwott and Nyachae, one way or the other, and he must make sure that Uhuru doesn't enjoy any moment of peace in his running of the Kanu ship.

How can this be achieved? Ruthlessness, that's how. Why would the President fear anyone? Biwott and Nyachae are not enough to topple his government or mount an offensive on their own in Parliament. Uhuru is busy fighting a rearguard action with Biwott for the control of Kanu. It seems that it is Biwott who is using Kibaki to settle scores with Uhuru rather than the opposite. For Kibaki to emerge triumphant, Narc must benefit and the erstwhile members of the opposition muust lose. He must appease his people-after all they are the ones who made him President. They all have pet projects that need to be implemented. Ngilu has her Health Bill, Raila has the PM's post, Kalonzo want Foreign Affairs back and so on. Kibaki must find a way of living with popular politicians in his cabinet so that he can jettison the assistance of the Nyachaes and Biwotts. He must be ready to deal ruthlessly and, if necessary, viciuosly with the Opposition so as to secure for his regime a second coming. From where he is standing today, his days in power are almost over. If he can't see it, then he doesn't deserve to be Rais.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Super-powers do not tip-toe into battle

When the Soviet Union collapsed, the world was left with a Hyperpower: the USA. But you wouldn't know it. Its success in cobbling together a coalition for the 1st Gulf War was followed by failures in Somalia, the Balkans and the rest of Africa, but worse, with a continuing number of terrorist incidents against the US, both on American soil and abroad. The 1998 Embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania were followed 3 years later with the fall of the Twin Towers in New York.

America responded as only a World Power should-it declared the guilt of the perpetrators without fail and punished them immediately, and installed a friendly government in their place.

What is taking place in Iraq today, belies these strides the US had taken since 9/11. It first failed to declare Saddam as guilty of all their charges. When it came time to invade, the US couldn't even convince Saddam's enemies to support them in the invasion. And when they finally invaded, they tip-toed into battle with a cowardly attempt at assassination that was not worthy of a world power. And today, the US would be hard-pressed to find a nation that will give it the benefit of the doubt on any issue.

After the 2nd World War, the US was actively involved in the reconstruction of Western Europe, with much success too. At the same time, the creation of NATO was meant to offer a bulwark against adventurism by the Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact nations. This strategy was a resounding success. But the root of this success wasn't that the US shared common values with Europe, but that it was facing a threat from the Soviet Union, and it had to balance that threat with it's own might right at Moscow's doorstep.

Today, the US faces a different threat, but no less dangaerous than that by the Soviet Union: religiously-inspired Islamist terrorism. And this threat emanates in the Arabian world. The implications are important. The conclusions so far have been accurate, it is the policies to address this threat that are faulty.

In West Asia, there are two important factors to consider: 1) Arab oil, and 2)Israel. These factors will continue to determine US involvement in the Middle East for the foreseeable future. For the US to prevail, it must choose one of two paths.

The first will be to decide once and for all the Palestinian Issue-with or without Israel's support. A great deal of the resentment against the US in the Arab world is due to its policies as regards this conflict, ergo, to resolve it will remove a major bone of contention. The US must decide whether it profits it to remain blindly loyal to Israel's ambitions. If the answer is no, US foreign policy must reflect a growing awareness that friendship with Israel is creating more enemies than profits.

The second is to 'democratize' the Arab world. This should be along the lines of the American intervention in Europe with the Marshall Plan and NATO. To do this, the US must disengage from Europe. Europe no longer needs American metal to protect it from the Soviets. The former Soviet Republics are in no position to mount an assault on the US, or for that matter, Europe. They are not in a position to do so politically or economically or militarily. They are a spent force, and they are more than willing to take the steps necessary to be admitted in the European Union. Moscow, is not in a position to browbeat or bribe them into an expansionist agenda today.

So, America is faced with the prospect of continued European goodwill and continued Arab ill-will. To counter this ill-will, the US must engage the Middle East more broadly than just through the twin subjects of the Palestinian issue and oil. The US must create a new Marshall Plan for the Middle East, not so much for economic development as for ploitical and social development to bring them more in line with other democracies globally.

This will have a salutary effect all round. The natives will be assuaged, their anger against the US will be reduced, America will more or less be guaranteed a less volatile oil supplier and the need to 'punish' the US by the disaffected will be diminished. The US will always be resented for being the most powerful. But it is precisely because it is the most powerful that it must act selfishly to democratize the Middle East so that the threat against American interests is reduced or even eliminated. There can be no other reason to the pursuit of foreign policy by the world's only hyperpower.

Monday, June 20, 2005

Mercedes AMG Rules

All those African tinpot dictators must have seen something when they all opted for the Mercedes Benz, especially the S600 Pullman. But my favorite division in the Merc empire has to be the AMG.

Imagine shoehorning a 5.5 litre, 500 Bhp V8 into the E class and make it do 150mph+. If that isn't the definition of poetry, then we need a new language. I have heard the E55 and SL55 AMG in full cry, and I can tell you this: the only other sound that is almost as glorious is Steve McQueen's '67 Mustang Fastback in Bullitt.

The V8 is the perfect engine for any car. I for one hope that the powers that be at Daimler-Chrysler realise that tinkering around with the Smart and The A Class is a waste of time, and they should be thinking of shoehorning the E55 V8 into the C Class. Now that would make even Porsche sit up and take notice.

Long live the V8.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Hilary Swank and fundamentalist movie critics

These days, movies have to be "real". and that is my beef with the critics, because if it wasn't for them all these expectations about movies today wouldn't exist. I don't care if a movie is factually correct, scientificilly accurate or even historically true-all I want is to be entertained. To that end, I will disagree with those who are going to town about the inaccuracies on Ridley Scott's Kingdom of Heaven. If he did the movie with an eye to appeasing religious sentiments on both sides of the divide, then fuck him too.

Movies are meant to entertain, not inform. If you want reality TV switch on the BBC. I remember when The Core came out and how scientists went about laughing at the science in the movie. I say they missed the point. The movie had a first class cast, and if anybody says that Hilary Swank's acting was wasted on the movie, then they really do not understand entertainment. It had all the hallmarks of a good film-emotion, action, a story et al.

I love Hilary Swank. She makes going to the movies an experience. Very few actors do that. Some are just plain annoying with their antics off-screen. Some are annoying on-screen. But, every now and then someone special comes along and all is right with the world-at least for a few hours. Can anyone tell me when was the last time they didn't want to see Denzel Washington, Jodie Foster, Will Smith, John Travolta, Annette Bening, Nicole Kidman, and all those other stalwarts of movies? And that is the essence of entertainment-to be entertained and to keep coming back for more. I couldn't care less if they said that JFK was a cross-dressing womanising warmonger. All I want is a good film.

Monday, June 13, 2005

Conservative Christians

You would think that Christians were the most tolerant people in he world, what with their being the largest religion in the world and the teachings of Christ designed to encourage tolerance and goodwill towards all men. But devout Christians have narrowly interpreted the Bible, more so in the last 25 years. Christian Conservatives have fostered an exclusivist religion, quite contrary to the spirit of christianity that it makes you wonder, "Who is a good Christian?"

The biggest debates in Christianity today have to do with matters of life and death: abortion, euthanasia, contraception, homosexuaity, child moestation and abuse, and war and peace.

I believe that the choice should be made by individuals, and not by the leaders of the Church. They can offer advice and leadership, but they cannot dictate human behavior. After all, they are also human, and therefore absolutely incapable of infallibiity. They must guide us to make the right choice, but not their choice. But that is not to say that they are dispensable-we need icons, today more than ever, and the Church leaders are the most visible and trusted. However, they shouldn't misuse their exalted positions to push their agenda, rather they should be at the forefront of championing individual choice in all matters, whether temporal or spiritual.

We are at a crossroads today. The church is under attack and some of its leaders have betrayed the legacy of Christ. The incidents of the church saying no to contraception and abortion, disowning homosexuals and denying the inhumanity of suffering will do more harm than good. The church needs to change with the changing times and it maust make inroads into the hearts rather than minds of the congregation. Life is more than the church.

Indians can be vicious too

I don't think the world sees the same Indians that I do. I live, currently, in a small city in Western Maharashtra called Kolhapur. By and large it is the most satisfying place for a person of my temperament. The peace and quiet and sedentary life make all the worries in the world disappear.

But there is a vicious side to this bucolic city. And it has to do with the police, or rather, the Foreigners' Registration Officer (FRO). There's a new one in town and he's an ass. 3 months' advance to renew a visa, 15 days' notice to acquire an exit permit. Previously, all you had to do was turn up and all would be well with the world. Now, the little shit won't even help to get expired visas extended or renewed.

One can overlook a great many failings when one is getting along just fine. But when someone makes it his personal mission to make your life miserable, all those failings don't look so cute any more. Now, the filth sorrounding me, the illiteracy, rudeness and dishonesty of these people is making me sick and I want out as soon as posssible.

My visa has expired, thank God, and I am being expelled from India. But even with a clear case of overstaying, they will only 'allow' me to depart at their leisure-so I have to wait a further fifteen days before I can even make plans to purchase an airline ticket.

And this is a country that sees itself as a superpower of the future. If this is how they see superpowers conducting their affairs, then thay have a lready lost the fight to their bette noir,
the Chinese. The buzzword should be efficiency, and Kolhapur is anything but. So, if we take small-town India as a microcosm of the amount of effort required to turn this country into a superpower, they have a looong way to go. And it is their viciousness towards potential friends that will continue to delay them, if not hold them back.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Bushies on a roll

When they come, you hardly have enough time to wade through all their mixed messages. Bush wanted to liberate Iraq from Saddam, but he lied about it and claimed that Saddam was about to invade the Continental US, at least that's how it sounded to the layman on the street. And after a successful war in Afghanistan, who could blame him.

But now, even with American blood being shed on foreign soil, they will not admit they lied, that they continue to lie and that things aren't as free as Cheney & Co. promised. The Bushies have a lot to answer for.

However, Americans shouldn't judge them harshly. If I was president, and I was presented with a choice between sitting and waiting for an enemy to acquire the capability to attack me, I will take all necessary steps to destroy him. It may cost a lot in terms of lives and resources, but it will cost a lot more when an invasion does take place. Bush was right-in the final analysis, he couldn't wait for Saddam to restart his weapons programmes as he had been hellbent on doing. Bush couldn't wait for the inevitable lifting of sanctions against Iraq which would open up the opportunities for high-end technology for advanced weapons systems. Like it or not, the war was justified.

What is not justified is the neglect of Afghanistan. It is in danger of becoming a narco-state afetr the likes of Colombia and Nicaragua. More US attention needs to be focussed on the warlords, as all that opium couldn't be produced without their blessings, if not active ptronage. Karzai is not in charge, he's like a glorified CEO of a company, where the Boar5d holds more power than he does. terrorism needs finances to survive. These finances cannaot be organized legally. Therefore, apart from ordinary crime, the most lucrative source is narcotics. and Afghanistan is the largest supplier of opium-heroin to North america. sooner, all that money will be employed aginst the US again. It's time to take your head out of the sand, America, and turn your gaze back on Afghanistan.

As by law established

The members of my profession, the ones with a pompous sense of importance, tend to use phrases whose value has diminished greatly since the ...