FTLComm - Tisdale - Thursday, October 4, 2001
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Sir Isaac Newton was talking about matter and energy when he proposed his law of physics that states that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction, but he might as well have been talking about all things. When it comes to human behaviour, be that as individuals, in groups, or as nation states, every single action has consequences. One of the roles of a counsellor is to assist people in understanding that there are natural consequences to almost everything. Yet it is astonishing to see how in times of crisis the inevitability of consequential events is over looked.



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You have no doubt seen the out pouring of people venting their concern that dire events are about to take place and that this could serious disrupt the world as we know it. This is understandable because change is always tough medicine but it is also a certainty. I would like to help you through these problems by assisting you in seeing that once the bullet has left the barrel it is a bit late to worry about what is about to occur.




On Tuesday September 11, 2001 nineteen people killed themselves, deliberately taking with them more than six thousand others. Some have said, like the lady speaking this past weekend in Toronto, that “United States policies are drenched in blood” and she as some others, have implied that the horrific attack on the United States was in fact a consequence of American foreign policy. I reject such thinking totally and unequivocally. The United States is a timid country; it was born in response to its fear of Catholicism and not being able to determine its own future. Nothing more. Since 1776 the country has done everything it can, to avoid military conflict, sometimes to the extreme, holding out of WWI three years into the conflict, staying out of WWII until it was actually attacked. Its involvement in Korea and Vietnam were halfhearted actions to appease public and world opinion. For the most part, the country has been isolationist, and though there would be many, who would argue this with me, there is little point in such a discussion.




During the depth of the cold war, the world learned some very important lessons and seems to have forgotten them with amazing speed. So many suggest, that neither the Soviet Bloc or the West were or are democratic, yet both declared over and over how democratic they were and the rhetoric has not died down. I want you to understand that democracy has almost nothing to do with the end result and that is choosing a government by voting in an election. I have heard many decry the use of opinion polls as unjust forms of government decision-making, but it is time to take a very hard long look at the organisation of all governments that are successful.



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Good leadership, at any level, involves a leader sensing the will of the group and proposing action that is likely to be followed. Bad leadership is the opposite. In this highly technologised world, the keen successful leaders of all world countries have discovered that they can stay in front of their people and enjoy their support by doing what they want. Putin, Blair, Chretien, Bush, Mobarak, Sharon, demonstrate this almost daily and they do not have to wait for elections, they are constantly monitoring what people want and trying their damndest to deliver. The press and media play an important role in this process and that brings us to the fundamental and most important parts of democracy.



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The constitution of our country and our neighbour hold a few important truths to be self-evident, those truths are the basis for democracy everywhere and they guarantee positive and successful government. At this moment, I am exercising one of those truths, the freedom of speech. By us voicing our opinions we are influencing others, our words and thoughts have consequences and they are important. As long as Americans, Canadians, Englishman and Russians can speak their minds, we will be heading down the right road.




It is very important to note that the Nobel Prize winning economist from India wrote a book about famine, as he himself had lived through one during the conflict at the forming of India and Pakistan. He points out that there has never been a famine, no matter how serious the weather or environmental conditions in a “democratic” country. While in anarchist and totalitarian countries all around the world, famines occur every single year.




Isolationist United States has twice been forced by the citizens of the country to put military forces in foreign countries where there was no financial gain to be had. In both cases the people demanded action and the government knowing full well that both ventures were questionable, went ahead and did what people wanted. No election, no referendum, just public opinion. Somalia and Kosovo and both were essentially disasters. In Somalia, Canadian and US forces walked into a civil war and were burned by the very starving people they came to help. In Kosovo attempting to use remote methods, NATO forces bombed and bombed, but only when they drove and walked in, did anything change.




Now let us consider consequences. In Korea and Vietnam the forces of the cold war and limited engagement were involved and though military leaders in both conflicts demanded full commitment, they were rebuffed and the matters were never settled. In Korea Curtis LeMay, head of the US air force and Douglas MacArthur, head of the army, wanted to nuke China and Russia if necessary, they wanted to get it over with, as they considered war inevitable. Cooler heads prevailed and the war became a stalemate that may only now be over, half a century later, being close to being resolved. In Vietnam, military people, wanted to do that job, win the war, and politicians sensed that this was not the time and nothing was settled. We could argue that in both cases resolution of those conflicts would have meant the ultimate deaths of perhaps millions of people and most agree that neither conflict justified such a sacrifice.




When Iraq invaded Kuwait, endangering the economic prosperity of those countries depending on the energy from the area. The United States felt compelled to act and put together the coalition that would act essentially on the oil users behalf. One of those being Japan, constitutionally it cannot involve itself in foreign conflicts. When Coalition had the Iraq army on the run the plan was to take Baghdad and sort out Iraq, restoring a peaceful government and putting the country on its feet. But, you will recall that the Coalition forces suddenly stopped the conflict because Saudi Arabia threatened the alliance.




What were the consequences of this failure to complete this war? Starvation, continued repression of the people of the country. I have seen people complain that the sanctions imposed by the United Nations have impoverished the people of Iraq and that is nonsense; the horrors visited on Iraq are the consequences of the Coalitions failure to complete their mission and the consequences of the military regime of Sudam Hussein keeping the people of the country under his heel. It is not Americans who cause children to starve in Baghdad; it is the government of Iraq.




In Afghanistan the Russians attempted to pacify the country and bring it under political control, they failed, and they did not fail because of US involvement and folks like Osama bin Laden. Russia failed because it was only attempting to lessen the pressure on its Southern border and was not committing itself to an all out take over of the country and as the Americans in Vietnam, partial commitment in a war is defeat. The consequences to the people of Afghanistan have been starvation and ridiculous oppression by the Talaban, it is they who are responsible for the starvation in that country, not the rest of the world.




What about Israel? Israel became a country in 1948 by the imposition of a resolution by the United Nations. The surrounding countries said then that they would “never” allow it to continue to exist and would always fight to reverse that decision. This was not a consequence of the Israeli or Americans, it was the attacking surrounding nations that created the refugees who generations later, pine away in camps and plot terrorist acts.




Given the severity of the attacks on September 11 the government of the United States is responding directly to the will of the people of the country and war is now in progress, it began around nine that Tuesday morning and it was not started by Americans.




In years to come we may come to regret the actions taken in response to that attack, but a group of people, a country, the NATO alliance, are compelled to defend their people. That is why we have governments and military action is already taking place and people are already casualties of this conflict, over six thousand Americans.



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Ultimately, peace and prosperity can only be achieved when the threat of violence and attack is vanquished. If that means NATO establishing a new Middle Eastern Empire then so be it. The people of this planet will be better off when hungry children are fed, when mothers and daughters can live their lives as equals and when those who planned and funded the start of this war have been sent to join their ancestors.
  Timothy W. Shire