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08/13/2003 Archived Entry: "I am the very model of a modern libertarian"

This Reuters story from AlertNet: "A group of about 600 U.S. military families, upset about the living conditions of soldiers in Iraq, are launching a campaign asking their relatives to urge members of Congress and President George W. Bush to bring the troops home." (Conditions are described in an earlier blog entry.) "Susan Schuman, whose son Justin is in the Massachusetts National Guard deployed to Samarra, Iraq, said he shares a small room in a former Iraqi police barracks with five other men. 'They are rationed to 2 liters of water a day and it's 125 degrees (52 degrees C), they haven't had anything but MREs (Meals Ready to Eat),' she told Reuters, adding that uncertainty about when the troops would come home was 'most disheartening.'" I recommend the site Military Families Speak Out which is in the forefront of demanding "Bring Them Home!"

The situation for Iraqi civilians is not better -- indeed, far worse -- as illustrated by conditions in British-held Basra. No reliable electricity, fuel shortages (in Iraq!), food scarcity, no medical supplies, water shut-offs... The prospect of more civilian riots. Conditions in Basra -- Iraq's second largest city -- raise a terrible question. Consider the report on one female resident and her family: "An open sewer runs past their front door and rubbish is piled up on the street. In the small courtyard it is clean and tidy, but stiflingly hot. Since the day before they had not had electricity to power the ceiling fans, and no one in the household - from her 80-year-old father to her grandson of six months - had managed to sleep. She welcomed the arrival of the British with open arms and still values their presence. But she cannot disguise the disappointment at the fact that her life, and the life of her family, is now worse." If the Americans and British do not repair the infrastructure -- and now! -- then the daily life of the average Iraqi may prove to have been better under Saddam than under the so-called "freedom" imposed by occupation forces.

The Americans and British have shown some reluctance to call themselves "an occupation force"...and that's understandable. Here is a look at the main responsibilities of being an "occupier'' under the 1949 Geneva Conventions on humanitarian law, according to the International Committee of the Red Cross based in Geneva.

An occupier must:

Restore and ensure public order and safety.
Provide the population with food and medical supplies.
Cooperate with aid and relief operations, if needed.
Ensure public health and hygiene.
Faciliate work of schools.
Uphold criminal laws of occupied territory, unless they constitute a threat or contradict international humanitarian law.

An occupier cannot:

Loot.
Compel residents to serve in its armed forces.
Forcibly transfer residents out of occupied territory to its own territory.
Exploit resources of occupied territory for own benefit.

No wonder the Americans and British wish to define themselves as "other" than occupiers. If they are an occupying army, then they are liable to for human rights violations for the extended denial to Iraqis of the basic human necessities of life, such as medicine. I do not suggest that the Americans and British extend/expand their stay in order to rebuild Iraq's infrastructure nor that hefty, politically-inspired contracts to the likes of Haliburton be continued. I suggest that troops GET OUT and allow what remains of a free market and of Iraqi ingenuity to rise. Let the communities organize and see to their own needs.

On The More Personal Side:

An oldie but a goodie... "I Am the Very Model of a Modern Libertarian" by Kimstu [With apologies to Gilbert and Sullivan, and also to one Lollius. Note: In order to avoid the infringement of individual rights by imposing totalitarian ideals of harmony, the soloist and choristers may sing each in his or her own tempo, tune, and key.]

I am the very model of a modern Libertarian:
I teem with glowing notions for proposals millenarian,
I've nothing but contempt for ideologies collectivist
(My own ideas of social good tend more toward the Objectivist).
You see, I've just discovered, by my intellectual bravery,
That civic obligations are all tantamount to slavery;
And thus that ancient pastime, viz., complaining of taxation,
Assumes the glorious aspect of a war for liberation!

[Chorus:]
You really must admit it's a delightful revelation:
To bitch about your taxes is to fight for liberation! continued

Favorite email for today: Gordon P. writes...I am curious as to whether you have heard anything about the philosophical
tempest
being stirred up in the physics community by a recent paper alleging to "solve" Zeno's Paradoxes by a Peter Lynds, a 27-year-old college dropout and broadcasting school tutor from Wellington, New Zealand. Opinions appear to range from "he's brilliant" to "he's profoundly ignorant." (Personally, I had been under the (perhaps incorrect) impression that philosophers had retired the Zeno Paradoxes about 300 years ago, after Newton invented The Calculus...) A press-release summarizing Lynds' arguments is available. If you are interested in the actual paper, it appears to be available.

Sam update: He is doing very well...none the worse for his jailbreak and I have quite forgiven him. Brad is back to deviling Sam's paws by laying a finger lightly on the back of one until Sam yelps in outraged betrayal and yanks his paw away. (BTW, our vet said it is a trait of German Shepherds to *hate* having their paws touched so I guess Sam isn't so eccentric after all.) And I am leading him in howl fests in the kitchen again. All is returning to normal.

Best to all,
mac

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