Thursday, June 21, 2007

Poland says: "more votes!" I say: "kiss my ass!"

Poland annoys me. I don't believe in the whole "plumber scare" of Polish taking over jobs, I'm more worried about Italian plumbers. What angers me is that Poland has been taking part in the USA's secret prisoner flights and likely had at least a prison facility run by the CIA. Their government is openly homophobic to the point of being absolutely gullible. Now this country has been hammering about wanting a bigger says in European Union politics. The Polish right seems to want that, or they are going to hold their breaths until they get what they want.
How childish. Under the treaty of Nice Poland already has more sway in the European Council with 27 seats, equal to the number of seats of Spain. Poland has 7.000.000 people less than Spain, yet both have 27. If you do some math, like I just did, from a democratic viewpoint, Spain is being held back greatly and Poland gets just a little more power than what is correct population-wise. Right now, Poland's vote represents only 1407407 per seat in the council while Spain represents 1666666 people per seat. For those who where planning to flame me for disagreeing with Poland I'll be fair, the Dutch vote is even less democratic: 1230769 people represented per seat. You know what is really funny? The Big Four (Germany, France, UK and Italy) are handicapped at 29 seats! Greatly favoring smaller countries like Poland or the Netherlands!
If you would assign seats on the basis of European Union population : total Council seats you'd get something like this:

France: 44
Great Britain: 41
Italy: 41
Spain: 31
Poland: 26
Romania: 15
Netherlands: 11

So Poland already has a better deal than it would technically deserve, especially considering its junior status. And they still want more? Are they nuts? It's an insult to smaller countries and unfair to larger ones! Founding member or recently admitted country alike! Considering the pro-Bush, pro-Iraq war and anti-Gay stance of eastern countries, I feel sick when I think about that I'm being represented by such people. Which is why I wouldn't want the EU to grow more powerful. But Poland crossed the line! An upstart country ignored by history suddenly developing a superiority complex. They're not even making a secret out of their power coup. As quoted from Kaczynski: "We should do everything to push through our proposal or to obtain some other solution that would equally satisfy our ambitions. Either we obtain that, or there will be a veto."
As if that's not immature enough, they now are trying to use the war victims of WW2 as an arguement. "If our population hadn't been affected by that, we'd be larger now!". Yeah, right. If Britain, France, Belgium, Luxemburg, the Netherlands, Denmark, Norway, Yugoslavia, Greece, Albania and even Italy hadn't resisted the Nazis then, their populations would doubtlessly have been larger to! Not to mention that if the Black Plague (which by the way avoided Poland because it was such a shithole even a disease would avoid it) had never come to Europe, who knows how much bigger our Dutch nation would have been!
I find it disrespectful to abuse the dead for political gain. We are letting the ghosts of fallen people have political sway? The last time we let such pity for a victim cloud our judgement, we ended up with an unstable middle east, a country with a hidden nuclear arsenal, and a major warmonger right where it could cause the most damage. If Poland wants to blackmail or manipulate my feelings of pity, I have for them a hearty "up your ass!".

Monday, June 18, 2007

Discussion in class

As part of my education, I had to host a discussion about an issue. So I chose the Dutch presence in Afghanistan. A current issue with an impact not often considered by society compared to what happens inside the border. We all had to discuss two different statements, so I came up with those.

"We must help the people of Afghanistan build a better future"

As expected, everyone agreed that was ideal but there was a great dose of realism. About half of the participants explained that we can only help out in a few places with limited effect. People argued that Africa did not get the same attention while it needs help just as much. It was argued that other countries contribute towards a stable Africa than Europe or the Netherlands, though I believe some of the countries are more a part of the problem than part of a solution.
There was also support for the ideal that Dutch are more respectful and know how to solve problems with their army, rather than simply enforcing the peace and letting all ills fester, such as poverty and racial hatreds. And that if they had send Turkish troops to Uruzgan, they would have simply destroyed the poppy harvest instead of promoting an alternative.
Despire this "pat yourself on the back" attitude, people also warned that the tolerance of Dutch, our best laid plans and our good intentions don't survive on a battlefield. No plan ever did survive first contact.
Meanwhile some still said that the deaths suffered (which are nil compared to those suffered by the US in Iraq or the Taliban on the other side) aren't worth it. After all, the moment foreign troops leave Afghanistan, the Taliban might just crop up again. And if they are eradicated, there is always another loon who will continue their work, even if Afghans prosper and feel unwilling to support such ideals. Personally I do feel that when you enlist in the army, you are making the choice to risk your life for a payment. And those around you should lament that choice, not the line of work itself. A counterargument to that was that people tend to think too lightly about military service if they are promised adventure, truck driving and honourable bringing peace. I personally believe that in a pacifist country like this, a lot of people see the army as something aggressive and a waste of money for a people that don't seek out conflict. Maybe the recruitment methods of the Royal Army are more effective at changes young people's view of it.

"The Netherlands are being used to pick up America's trash."

Quite a strong sentiment. There was a unnanimous agreement we should not do anything just because Bush said it. The teacher reminded people that America helped liberate Europe and that this explains how previous generations felt like they owed the US. From there comes its reputation as a "righteous" and "free" country. But that in WWII it was Japan, Italy and Germany themselves who had provoked the war, unlike Iraq or Vietnam. Bush is generally considered self-centered, his administration abusing that good reputation in hopes of getting away with inexcuseable faults and crimes, and the neo-cons as "self-righteous".
This was by the way the point at which the two Russian students and one Serbian one entered with glee. They both had very little good to say about America and Bush. And although Russia had Afghanistan, Serbia had Kosovo, Bosnia, Croatia and Slovenia and America had Vietnam, of those three America is so far the only one that did not learn anything from their experience and the only one to repeat their mistake in the 21st century.

I can go on and on about what I agree with and which ones are good points. But I only have to draw my conclusions, my opinion was not necessary for the discussion. So I am putting it up here so others can draw their own conclusions. A classroom survey of how Dutch view peace missions and "standing by our allies".

Friday, June 15, 2007

Civil war! I win a €50 bet!

So now it seems mister Abbas used his presidential powers to declare an emergency situation in hopes of twarting Hamas. To be honest, I don't believe it is an truly altruistic move. This is power politics and Abbas might be more idealistic and balanced, he is disbanding an elected government which, let's be fair, puts Fatah in control of things and has made Hamas, the largest political faction at this time an outcast. From my point of view, Abbas made a coup d'etat.
Which isn't to say he's wrong. It's quite understandable he got fed up with Hamas militia harassing Fatah's own brigades and security forces. Though in this situation there's really no telling which of them drew first blood, and it makes no difference. Both feel slighted long time. Let them fight, I say, I'll be rooting for Fatah and hope at the same time it'll bring some sweeping change for the better, in whatever form.
Though it's obvious Fatah is alone and weak. Hamas has a very determined leadership and fighters who are in high spirits, especially after their recent successes in Gaza. Hamas' political wing isn't necessary for them, but shoot me if they surrender the government to Fatah in exchange for military victory. They made it quite clear they rejected the emergency state and will keep on going like nothing happened until Fatah is completely out of the picture. Hamas has more popular support because Fatah's history of corruption while Hamas instead has contributed to charity in Gaza to win the hearts and minds.
Although Abbas if friendly with Israel, he can't ask them for any support because Palestinians 1: would see it as hudling with the enemy. 2: don't want Israel back in Gaza. 3: Israelis can't be truste. And in turn Israel doesn't want to get involved because 1: they'll lose the credibility of a friendly faction. 2: don't want to go back to Gaza. 3: Palestinians can't be trusted.
But let us stay out of the conflict and watch which one will bite the dust. If it's Fatah, then Hamas takes over and runs itself into the ground, with no aid for Palestine and with Israel having a legitimate casus belli against the unborn state of Palestine, and Gaza's residents soon realizing how lonely it is when your government sponsors terrorism. If (against my expectations) Fatah beats Hamas, that will hopefully eliminate one of the biggest obstacles to a stable peace with Israel from which point on Israel has no further reason to withold on it's own promises and stop being so on edge.
But you know what? I believe Israel gave the PA that Hamas den, Gaza, on purpose so they could wait for a conflict like this to happen and once Hamas wins they will say Palestinians really are such a sick bunch of terrorists, sweep in for the kill and deny Palestinians their indipendence from that point on.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Punish the Gorilla!

I just read that victims of Gorilla Bokito who escaped his island in the Rotterdam Zoo can sue for money. As if that wasn't bad enough, the main victim (who was told not to have such regular contact lest Bokito grew too fond of her) wants more than just money, she wants to see the Zoo punished!
Excuse me for not comforming to the "that has to be terrifying, poor soul!" crowd, but I'm more of a "shit happens" person. Okay, your hand got crushed, you bones broken and there are bite marks all over your body. Count your blessings you didn't attract the attention of one of the Siberian Tigers. What's more, who would have expected Bokito to trudge through the water and jump over the fencing? Gorillas can't swim. That makes his escape an anomaly. A freak accident. It was entirely possible, but improbable. If next hour a UFO crashed on me and my bicycle while I'm off to buy a ham-cheese croisant, do I sue the aliens for what is entirely a freak accident?
Further, people go to the Zoo to enjoy it. Escaping gorillas don't make it enjoyable. But sueing the Zoo is not my definition of making it more enjoyable. How much are these people going to ask? More than what is reasonable? Will employees or the management go to jail for something their gorilla did? They did the best they could to prevent this using means that would normally keep the gorillas confined and the view unobstructed by things that detract like bars and concrete. Just when you think you got it right, your gorilla has to screw you and your Zoo over by escaping!
And it wasn't the first time Bokito escaped, he was not quite a model prisoner even in Berlin. And here I thought Germans knew all about keeping savages locked up... So clearly, the gorilla must pay for the trouble he caused his masters and audience! Put him on meagre rations until the costs saved through this have made up for the damage claims made at the adress of the zoo! And since some animals can perform useful tasks, like elephants and horses, explore the possibilities of having Bokito renovate the island fence and water ditch so that he can't escape again!
Now some might say that's animal cruelty. You're, we have to look for the real culprit. But if not Bokito or the Zoo, who else was involved? The victim! The victim must pay the Zoo and poor, poor Bokito for tempting his fragile mind, seducing him to jump over that fence and start a rampage! A few more broken bones and biting will suffice as corporeal punishment. Or if it's going to be a jail term, let her sit it out on the rock with the gorillas. And I don't mean Alcatraz Island and it's inmates.