Blow the Bugle, Draw the Sword


Ford o' Kabul River

For Americans war is almost all of the time a nuisance, and military skill is a luxury.
But when the issue is brought home to them, war becomes as important, for the necessary period, as business or sport.
And it is hard to decide which is likely to be the more ominous - an American decision that this is sport, or that it is business.

- D W Brogan

by Rudyard Kipling circa 1890

Kabul town's by Kabul river -
Blow the bugle, draw the sword -
There I lef' my mate for ever,
Wet an' drippin' by the ford.
Ford, ford, ford o' Kabul river,
Ford o' Kabul river in the dark!
There's the river up and brimmin', an' there's 'arf a squadron swimmin'
'Cross the ford o' Kabul river in the dark.

Kabul town's a blasted place -
Blow the bugle, draw the sword -
'Strewth I sha'n't forget 'is face
Wet an' drippin' by the ford!
Ford, ford, ford o' Kabul river,
Ford o' Kabul river in the dark!
Keep the crossing-stakes beside you, an' they will surely guide you
'Cross the ford o' Kabul river in the dark.

Kabul town is sun and dust -
Blow the bugle, draw the sword -
I'd ha' sooner drownded fust
'Stead of 'im beside the ford.
Ford, ford, ford o' Kabul river,
Ford o' Kabul river in the dark!
You can 'ear the 'orses threshin', you can 'ear the men a-splashin',
'Cross the ford o' Kabul river in the dark.

Kabul town was ours to take -
Blow the bugle, draw the sword -
I'd ha' left it for 'is sake -
'Im that left me by the ford.
Ford, ford, ford o' Kabul river,
Ford o' Kabul river in the dark!
It's none so bloomin' dry there; ain't you never comin' nigh there,
'Cross the ford o' Kabul river in the dark?

Kabul town'll go to hell -
Blow the bugle, draw the sword -
'Fore I see him 'live an' well -
'Im the best beside the ford.
Ford, ford, ford o' Kabul river,
Ford o' Kabul river in the dark!
Gawd 'elp 'em if they blunder, for their boots'll pull 'em under,
By the ford o' Kabul river in the dark.

Turn your 'orse from Kabul town -
Blow the bugle, draw the sword -
'Im an' 'arf my troop is down,
Down an' drownded by the ford.
Ford, ford, ford o' Kabul river,
Ford o' Kabul river in the dark!
There's the river low an' fallin', but it ain't no use o' callin'
'Cross the ford o' Kabul river in the dark.


See the World through a Lens of Patriotism

by Maria Puente

This business of pasting a US flag on every available surface may be getting out of hand: now you can put flags on your contact lenses.  CooperVision, a Rochester manufacturer of contacts, introduced the "Stars & Stripes" model to give customers a way to express patriotism via ... eyeballs.  "It's another way for people to show their pride," says marketing manager Steve Gandola.

The soft lenses are imprinted with the flag covering the iris, with a hole in the centre so the pupil is clear for unobstructed vision.  They're strictly for show - no good for correcting vision - and retail for about US$50 to $75.  They're part of the company's "Crazy Lenses" novelty line, which includes lenses with Halloween motifs and NFL team logos.

CooperVision has donated $10,000 of the proceeds so far to the September 11th Fund.

Source: USA Today Friday 22 February 2002

A Clarification: Canada on Iraq

by Andrew Coyne

The position of the government of Canada is clear.  We have always clearly said that we would go to war only with the authority of the Security Council.  Now clearly that means that in the event the Security Council did not give its authority, we would not go to war, except if we did.  Certainly it is clear that we have never gone to war in the past without the Security Council's authority.  Unless you count Afghanistan.  Or Kosovo.  Or World War II.  Or World War I.  Or the Boer War.

It couldn't be clearer.  This war is unjustified under the Charter of the United Nations.  On the other hand, we have always clearly said that Resolution 1441 of the Security Council provided all the authority needed to go to war; there was no need to vote on a second resolution.  Unless, of course, there was a second resolution that was never voted on, in which case it clearly supersedes the first resolution, which was.

It's perfectly clear.  The Americans lack the authority to launch this illegitimate and unnecessary war, which can only bring great suffering and instability to the region.  At the same time, clearly it is their privilege and right to do so, and we wish them Godspeed.

It's as clear as can be.  The inspectors should have been given more time to do their jobs.  Force was unnecessary; inspections were working.  In fact, they were working so well that we circulated a paper saying they should end in two weeks: if Iraq did not disarm by March 28 we would go to war.

It's clearer than clear.  We have always said there was no proof Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction.  Nevertheless, we agreed that he had to be disarmed of the weapons there was no proof he had.  In fact, there was clearly no need to disarm him.  The mere presence of all those American troops was enough to prevent him from doing anything with them.  The president has won.  So we always give praise to the Americans.  Saddam would not have made the concessions he did if the president hadn't threatened to use force.  Clearly, this makes the UN more needed now than ever: to prevent the Americans from using force.

It's as clear as day.  Regime change is not authorised by the United Nations.  We do not support regime change in Iraq: after all, if we're going to go knocking over every genocidal dictator with a taste for weapons of mass destruction who has invaded two of his neighbours and defied 17 UN resolutions over a dozen years since a ceasefire that was never honoured in a previous war duly authorised by the Security Council, well, where do you stop?  However, we are supportive of our American friends in their desire to get rid of Saddam.  At the same time, we believe that having fought a war to disarm him, the Americans should leave him in power, assuming he still is (we have not yet decided whether he should be restored to power once he's gone).  But we agree with the official opposition: he should be tried for war crimes and crimes against humanity and brought to justice.  There is no contradiction.  He could serve out his sentence on weekends.

It's very clear.  We are not participating in this war.  We have always clearly said, however, that we would participate in the last war, the war against terrorism.  So when Canadian warships are deployed to escort US ships through the Persian Gulf on the way to Iraq, or when Canadian officers direct bombing runs on Iraq from AWACS aircraft, it should be clear that they are not fighting in the war in Iraq, they are fighting in the war on terror.  Though there is clearly no link between the two, whatever those American morons say.  That was not an anti-American remark, and we regret any inference that it was somehow reflective of our personal opinions.

Do we make ourselves clear?  We are not contributing ground troops to this war.  That is to say, we are, but they are not in Iraq.  That is to say, they are, but they are not in combat.  That is to say, they are.  But we do not support them being there.

Let us be clear.  We are in favor of UN resolutions but against their enforcement; against the use of force but in favour of the threat of it; against fighting the war, but in favour of winning it.  This is part of Canada's unique national identity.  Other countries may support the war without participating in it.  Only Canada is participating without supporting it.  You see, there's an important principle at stake here.  That principle, as the prime minister said clearly in the House of Commons just the other day, is to show that Canada is an independent country, able to make up its own mind about whether to go to war.  That is why we have always clearly said we would go along with whatever the Security Council decides.  Or fails to decide.  Whatever.

At any rate, we clearly have the support of a majority of Canadians, the ones who tell our pollster that although they do not want a war, they would accept one.

What could be clearer?

Andrew Coyne is a columnist for the Canadian National Post; a version of this first ran in there.

Source: 3 April 2003

Time to Get into a US State of Mind

by Thomas Walkom

Back in the '90s, one of the more fashionable theories making the rounds held that nation-states were going out of style.  The wave of the future, it was said then, lay with something called the sub-national region.  Overarching trade pacts, or economic communities such as the European Union, would lay down the general rules.  But within these supranational organisations, the key actors would not be countries but regions within countries.  Acting internationally and with considerable independence from their national states, these dynamic regions would create wealth in a globally integrated fashion never before imagined.

In Europe, the enthusiasts talked of the so-called Four Motors - France's Lyon region, Italy's Lombardy, Germany's Stuttgart area and Spain's Catalonia - acting in a manner that effectively bypassed the national governments of each of their countries.  In Canada, the entire Quebec separatist project was recast in light of this so-called new reality.  To both the pure separatists of the Parti Québécois and the conditional federalists of Robert Bourassa's Liberals, Quebec's future lay as an autonomous unit inside a pair of transnational agreements; one with the rest of Canada, the other with the US.

Regionalism had its fans elsewhere.  Washington state senator Alan Bluechel lobbied for a region he called Cascadia, which would include British Columbia, Alberta, Alaska and four other US states of the Pacific northwest.  In Ontario, Tom Courchene, a well-regarded and politically influential economist, argued that the Mike Harris victory of 1995 marked a watershed in the history of the province, one in which Ontario was transformed from the heartland of the Canadian nation into what he and fellow economist Colin Telmer called North America's "premier region state."

The euphoria of the new regionalists crossed all ideological boundaries.  To some on the right, region-states were a way to bypass the anti-market biases of national governments.  To some on the left, they represented at least the potential of grass-roots democracy.  And while the vicious tribal wars of Yugoslavia, the Caucasus and Africa served as a reminder that ethnic nationalism was far from dead, regionalists in North America remained unfazed.  The fact that Croats could not abide Serbs surely had no meaning for Ontarians and their neighbours in Michigan.

And then came the events now known as September 11.  The terror attacks in the US and their aftermath provided three reminders.  The first is that, in this world at least, only national governments can provide national security.  The US federal government, not something called Cascadia, protects Oregon.  The second is that even in multi-ethnic societies such as the US, nationalism - whether expressed as patriotism or national chauvinism - is a potent and dangerous force.  The third, a corollary of the above, is that in times of crisis, national governments count.  The Four Motors of Europe did not decide whether to join the US invasion of Iraq.  That choice was left to their respective national governments - Spain, Italy, Germany and France.

All of this has tremendous significance for Canada.  The country's business elites want to further integrate Canada into the US economy in order to bolster the country's regional position within North America.  Some call for a common market, common borders or even a common currency.  They are buoyed, no doubt, by polls that show a sizeable majority of Canadians favour the idea of free trade (although, according to a recent Ipsos-Reid poll published in The Globe and Mail, far fewer think that the actual free trade pacts have benefited Canada).  Yet the integrationists forget two things.

The first is that international trade, and even free trade, is not new to Canada.  Free trade existed in the most important sectors of the Canadian economy, including automobiles, before the 1989 Canada-US pact.  For much of the 20th century, even the so-called National Policy that protected Canadian manufacturing was designed as an export strategy that would allow American firms to manufacture in Canada for sale to Britain.  History shows that Canada has never had to choose between no-trade autarchy and free-trade subservience.  The trick, which the current federal government seems at times to forget, has always been to balance trading relationships with sovereign national goals.

The second forgotten truth is that in a world where nation-states still matter, it is unwise to surrender your own.  For practical reasons, the US prefers to deal with Canada as a foreign country.  Our politicians may want the border dismantled.  Theirs - who answer to American voters on security and terrorism issues - do not.  Our softwood industry may want an integrated North American lumber market.  Theirs, for legitimate reasons of self-interest, does not.

So let's take a tip from the Americans.  They are not giving up their nation state.  While happy to trade, they are not "regionalizing" either their politics or their economy.  Instead, they are articulating a national interest.  We would be wise to do the same.

Thomas Walkom's column appears on Tuesday.

Source: The Toronto Star 10 June 2003

Colour Blind

by Chuck Shepherd

A couple of days after the problem was highlighted in a Reuters news story (but several weeks after it had been going on), the Pentagon decided to change the colour of the food packages it was dropping on Afghanistan, from yellow to blue, so recipients would be less confused.  For several weeks, they had been dropping yellow packages of food and yellow packages of cluster bombs, along with fliers that explained that the square yellow packages were food and the cylindrical yellow packages were bombs, and urging people to open the former but avoid the latter.

Source: Funny Times February 2002 "News of the Weird"


Source: Funny Times February 2002

For articles on bioterrorism, patriotism enforcers, airport security, children in war, McCarthyism, humanitarian killing, Voice of America, pipelines, truth, lessons, anthrax, hatred and pain click the "Up" button below to take you to the Index page for this War on Terrorism section.

Back Home Up Next