28 April 2010

Save the whales, collect the whole set

I notice the Federal Minister for an increasingly small section of the environment is unhappy with the IWC proposals for sustainable whaling.

I’m kind of amazed that the Japanese, Icelanders and Norwegians haven’t just told him to shut up or invade, but they are probably more diplomatic than me.

I guess they understand his foot stamping is for domestic consumption by the kind of folks who buy free range eggs, don’t wear fur and think whales and dolphins are people who live in the sea. The delicate kind who watched The Cove and say: “Those nasty Japanese, they are so cruel and heartless to be killing our whalie brothers and dolphinie sisters. We really should do something to civilise them”.

If you are one of these folks, I salute your humanity and despise your hypocrisy.

You see, our Japanese friends are just like us. They simply love exotic animals. They happen to think our kangaroos are just the sweetest folks and their little baby joeys are like pure sunshine in marsupial form. They are genuinely horrified by what we euphemistically call “culling”.

“Culling” is a word specifically designed to sanitize a practice too nasty to be spoken of directly - exterminating other animals that we feel are “in our way” so to speak. Its not a final solution, but it tides us over from year to year.

In friend kanga’s case, we don’t really want to eat him, we just don’t like the idea he might dare to eat the same grass as our sheep and cows

And don’t get me started on the sheep and cows. At least the noble kanga lives free, even if he dies with his brains scattered with a .303.

Mrs Cow is born a slave, raised in a feed lot, executed with a pneumatically inserted steel bolt to the head and then chopped up into little bite sized pieces. And we don’t kill kanga to protect her. We kill him so she gets fatter faster and we can kill her earlier.

On body counts there is no comparison between the few hundred whales and dolphins the Japanese and Nordics take a year and the wholesale slaughter of millions of animals both wild and domestic we commit every day.

And you know what? I’m not even sorry. I eat meat. I accept the only way I can is if, in places I don’t visit there are people who do things I don’t like to produce the quantities of chicken, lamb, pork and beef that sustains my life.

So, if you are a hard core vegan who only eats native plants and lives in a tent in the bush, pull up a chair. You’ve earned the right to lecture on these matters.

But if you eat meat, wear leather or wool, live on land that was once a part of the bush or a forest or eat grains grown on pasture land carved from the native habitat, then you are an end user of the slaughter. Make whatever kind of peace you like with your lifestyle, but leave the whalers to make peace with theirs.

What’s for tea?

18 April 2010

Thailand's very special forces

Last post I called the power struggle in Thailand over. The Red shirts have won, its now just a matter of time.

However, the current government seems determined to go down swinging, covering itself in humiliation along the way.

Far be it from me to tell the Thai government how to put down a popular uprising, but here are a few tips:

1. If you send in commandos to capture the leaders of the Red Shirts, better make sure your guys are up to the job.

2. If you’re going to hold a live press conference telling the world about the raid, its probably better if you’re sure your guys aren't being detained by the people they were sent to capture as you go to air;

3. If the major general and colonel leading your elite special forces get captured by the unarmed protesters, you’re probably doing it wrong; and

4. Its not really a good sign when the other side holds your commandos in such contempt that they release said major general and colonel without even a few face saving demands in exchange.
Last post I said that the Yellow shirts had lost but now its getting embarrassing.

If there were a club of dictators and unelected leaders, it would be currently drawing up papers to expel the Thai government for bringing the whole group into disrepute.

13 April 2010

The Moment of Truth in Bangkok

Ladies and gentlemen, you can call the Red Shirt/Yellow Shirt battle in Bangkok right now. The moment of truth arrived and the Yellows were found wanting.

In any struggle, cultural, economic or military, there is a critical point when all the talking is set aside and you either can or cannot back the talk with action.

In the arena of strong man governments versus street protesters, there is one eternal moment of truth: if the government unleashes the troops and can’t clear the streets immediately, its power is broken.

This rule has been proved time and again for at least the last 60 years.

It was true in the Philippines in 1986 when CIA pinup boy and all round tough guy Ferdinand Marcos told the marines to step to with protestors led by hilariously named Cardinal Sin who was calling for peace, love and a bit less political assassination.

As soon as you saw a bunch of nuns send the marines scurrying back to base with extra homework and promises to say ten Hail Mary’s before bed time, you could tell old Ferdie would be “the former President” before you could say “Bloodless coup”.

What was true in Manilla in ’86 was true in Russia in '91. Few even remember the pathetic coup d’etat the old hardliners tried to pull in the dying days of the Soviet Union. Long story short, the head of the KGB,Vladimir Kryuchkov, and seven other supposed soviet heavy hitters managed to seize power from Mikhail Gorbachev.

However, when push came to shove on the streets of Moscow, their armour columns were stared down by Boris Yelsin (presumably in a rare moment of sobriety) and his unarmed crowd.

Wasn’t long before the plotters were in gaol and the Soviet Union was an historical footnote. Uncle Joseph must have turned in his grave that day.

You can fast forward through the Orange, Rose and every other colour revolution of the 90s for more proof.

Interestingly, the contra rule is also largely true: if the government tells the army to fire on civilians and the troops comply, it’s the end of the protest.

The Czechs and Slovaks were allowed to mess around for most of Spring and Summer of 1968, thumbing their noses at the Soviets. But when the hammer came down on 21 August, the 200,000 Russian troops executed their orders and cleared Prague in a single night.

Same same 20 years later in Tian'anmen Square. The Chinese Communist Party didn’t flinch in June 1989 and neither did the soldiers of the 27th Army. 21 years later, the CCP still rules the roost in Beijing.

And so it went in Iran last year. Turned out live fire and mass arrests trump Twitter and Facebook.

It's the last act of a desperate government to order troops to blast their opposition into submission. You fail to do that, and its all over red rover.

By sending in the troops, the government of Thailand's Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva rolled for the whole game. Tonight the troops are back at base and the Red shirts are still on the streets.

The Yellow shirts just came up craps.