Voice of Fairness

My personal opinion on science, religion and politics

Bomb first, ......, and no question allowed

On April 4, 2017, Syrian government forces launched an airstrike against the rebel-held town of Khan Shaykhun. Chemical poisoning soon followed the airstrike, killing at least 74 people, of which many are children. No party has so far claimed responsibility for the chemical poisoning.

Two hypotheses were immediately suggested, one by the American government and one by the Russian. The American one claimed that the Syrian government forces dropped poison-containing bombs during the airstrike. The regime has used chemical weapons before, so the Bayesian prior is against them. The Russian one pointed to the possibility of the airstrike hitting a chemical weapon store of the rebels. After all, given that the Assad regime has been winning battle after battle, and reclaiming town after town from the rebels, why would it choose to turn the whole world against itself? Besides, previous international investigations have shown both sides of the war to possess chemical weapons.

These are two valid hypotheses and should be readily testable. Weapon experts should be able to tell us which hypothesis is more consistent with the existing evidence on the ground. For this reason, almost all world leaders, including our Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, have originally called for an investigation to assign the blame. This is a great opportunity for the western world that has been in favour of getting rid of Assad. If the Syrian government forces is the culprit, then there is literally no chance for Assad to stay on, and the Russian government will be forced to apologize to the whole world for misplacing its support for a brutal regime.

But Americans decided to act alone without an investigation, and fired 59 Tomahawk missiles at Shayrat Air Base, which U.S. intelligence believed was the source of the attack.

In retrospect, it is not too bad an idea for U.S. to launch the attack. Imagine that Syrian planes were loaded with, or in the process of loading, chemical weapons and got hit right on the spot, spilling chemical poisons everywhere. Then the regime would be caught red-handed.

Unfortunately, this scenario did not seem to materialize.

Now all leaders of the western world were essentially hijacked to support Trump and assign blame to the Assad regime. It would be nice if U.S. could find another Colin Powell to offer solid evidence against Assad regime, but none in the U.S. government seemed to be willing to come forward. This created a rather awkward situation for U.S. allies. For example, when Justin Trudeau was asked why he changed his position so abruptly from calling for an investigation to assigning blame to Assad, he was forced to say something like "A trusted and reliable ally in the United States informed us that the Assad regime was responsible for these chemical attacks." [2]

Why such an important piece of information was not released publicly? Such a release seems to have huge benefit and little cost. It would be embarrassing to the Russian government and fatal to the Assad regime.

Did the Assad regime really used the chemical weapons? Given that Assad is supported by the Russian government, the regime probably would consult Russians before using chemical weapons, and Russians most certainly would say no. The Syrian/Russian alliance has been victorious in the battlefield. All what they need to achieve their objective is NOT to get international attention.

So people of the world were all eagerly waiting for U.S. to enlighten them, but then came the disappointing news. It turns out that, according to Eric Trump, President Trump did not base his decision of launching the airstrike against Syria on solid evidence and detailed analysis. Instead, his decision was based on the gut feeling of Ivanka Trump [3].

One may argue that President Trump listens to people, and Ivanka Trump happens to be a member of the people, so there is really nothing wrong to listen to her advice. One might even argue that U.S. government should in fact ask people to vote either in favour or against the airstrike and then simply follow it through with the voting outcome. However, when such voting is done not by people as a whole, but by a single sample of a single individual, there is clearly something gone wrong.

Now that the bombing has been done, can people still ask questions?

[1] http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2017/04/06/trudeau-syria-chemical-atttack_n_15850344.html

[2] http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2017/04/07/trudeau-us-syria-strike_n_15858668.html

[3] http://www.cnn.com/2017/04/11/politics/ivanka-trump-syria-strike-influence-telegraph/

“Established Procedures”

A boarded and seated passenger was yanked from his seat, beaten and dragged off the plane because of the overbooking of United Airlines.

Defending this horrific abuse of passenger rights, United CEO Oscar Munoz wrote to United employees: “Our employees followed established procedures for dealing with situations like this. While I deeply regret this situation arose, I also emphatically stand behind all of you, and I want to commend you.....”[1].

“Established procedures”!

Isn’t this reminiscent of how Jews were treated in Nazi Germany just before the mass killing?

Nazis did not start the holocaust right after their ascending to power. They were initially cautious. However, after testing the public and finding no strong reaction to their abuse of Jews, they were emboldened and formulated an established procedure to treat Jews, i.e., rounding them up and killing them.

All dictatorial regimes have “established procedures” to treat dissidents.

All brutal slave owners have “established procedures” to treat slaves.

Will these “established procedures” be made great again?

Will these “established procedures” be expanded beyond airlines and into other sectors of the society?

Will these “established procedures”, made in USA, force their way into Canada which happens to be my beloved country?

What if these “established procedures” are implemented in the whole world?

Sitting in front of my computer, I feel a profound sense of helplessness. I can hear the screaming of women in the video clip. Did they feel the same sense of helplessness? Why had there been no male passengers who would respond to the scream and stand up for human dignity?

Has our society really degraded to such an extent that we no longer know what is right and what is wrong?

How loud does the screaming need to be before the society as a whole can hear it and react to it?

[1] http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/united-airlines-ceo-oscar-munoz-s-leaked-email-in-full-read-video-incident-dragging-passenger-staff-a7677721.html

War and Peace

Canadian media today is full of claims that the Battle of Vimy Ridge was a defining moment for Canada, and that “For many historians, Canada truly came together as a nation in April 1917, when our troops sacrificed lives and limbs to win the Battle of Vimy Ridge in northern France.” [1]. It seems that "many historians" have apparently forgotten that the 1st Canadian Prime Minister started his duties in 1867. The poor ghosts of Sir John A. Macdonald and Alexander Mackenzie must feel deeply troubled upon learning that Canada had never been a nation under their watch.

At the same time, American media is full of claims that bombing Syria was a defining moment for Trump presidency, stating that Donald Trump became president of the United States only when he authorized airstrikes on Syria [2].

Will Canada never emerge as a nation without a bloody war? 

Will Trump never become an American President without flexing American military muscle?

Does a nation really have to gain her identify by wars?

Is raining missiles on another nation the only way for a president to gain recognition and legitimacy? Did Richard Nixon become a less president when he went to China to initiate a dialogue for peace?

Why does the western world, which often claimed to be civilized, have so many idiotic war-maniacs as news reporters and news anchors?

CBC Radio this morning (Apr. 9, 2017) was asking listeners what one can learn from these two wars, one in Vimy Ridge and one in Syria, separated in time by 100 years. I am not sure if Donald Trump ever tunes himself to CBC. If he did, he probably would say that the most important lesson is that one should never pick a fight against an enemy that is roughly equal in strength. Instead, one should find an enemy who is so weak as to be unable to return a punch. George W. Bush might add that, to avoid being perceived as a coward, one has to leak out some information to the idiots working in the media to initiate a propaganda campaign that the weak enemy is actually mighty strong.

Capitalists have learned from wars that they always get cheap labor whenever a prosperous society is bombed back to the Stone Age.

Media Moguls learned that people suddenly pay more attention to their news and their business profit jumps up every time a new war erupts.

Some retired generals learned that a new war is the only way for them to regain some limelight.

Bar owners learned that their customers are suddenly transformed into a group of agitated rednecks.

Ordinary people know that they will lose loved ones in wars, and their widows and poor children will then get brainwashed to prevent them from learning the most fundamental lesson, i.e., we should say no to warmongers, and that civilized societies should introduce legislature to allow citizens to refuse service in an aggressive war.

[1] http://www.ctvnews.ca/canada/why-the-battle-of-vimy-ridge-was-a-defining-moment-for-canada-1.3345828
[2] https://www.commondreams.org/views/2017/04/08/essential-pundit-take-trump-became-president-bombing-syria