mercredi 10 janvier 2007

First Entry

This will be my academic blog for Written Communication II. I am in my sixth and final semester of ''International Studies'' and I study English, Russian and politics. I have a few ideas for the research topic but I am not sure if they are any good or if this is what Prof. Saint-Yves is looking for.

Those ideas include:

A research about the state of fascism today.
A research about the issues regarding the future of Somalia.
A research about global organized crime (or maybe about the state of local mafias in the 21st century and how they deal with the arrival of new technologies and advanced aggressive anti-mafia investigations)
A research about the state of democracy in Russia (or maybe a research about Russia's relationship with hostile countries such as North Korea and Iran)
Stability in the Balkans (for exemple: about the future of Kosovo, the Serbian Radical Party (who may win this month's parliamentary election) or about the state of Macedonia)

9 commentaires:

Prof. Saint-Yves a dit...
Ce commentaire a été supprimé par l'auteur.
Prof. Saint-Yves a dit...

Hello,

I like the first 'topic' very much!
You will need to narrow this topic down. Limit yourself to two countries. Germany is a possibility. Since you speak Russian, you might also want to focus on Russia.

Start looking at some sources and books, check this healdline: rebirth of fascism.

Quickly explore the Net (scholarly articles and also this site: http://books.google.com/books?q=rebirth+of+fascism&btnG=Chercher+des+livres&hl=fr&as_brr=0)

best,

Mik a dit...

Hi Vincent, glad to read that you like Russian. I do speak a bit of Russian as well and could be interested in a topic related to it. I might take as a topic something related to Russia’s energy. A peer review could then be profitable for both of us. Check it out!

Julie Langlois a dit...

I Vincent...like your blog. Nice that you speak russian..I am still trying to learn it! I might write on Russia too so a peer review should be interesting!
See you next course
Jue

pdavid a dit...

Hi Vincent

I am interested in your topic on the state of fascism today, as I am currently suscribed to an history course from prof. Gosselin on fascism this semester.
Good Luck!

Vincent Gagnon-Lefebvre a dit...

Debate continued... (sorry for the length)

I only used the Dresden bombings because you mentioned it. I only wanted to point out the reality of State terrorism (and the fact that it is often more deadly that the non-State variant). Its true that so-called legitimate strategic military aims are usually at the origin of high-civilian-casualty operations, but many times those casualties are the result of a failed or failing strategy (and a lack of understanding of the opponent) that transforms itself into a mass punishment campaign. In Vietnam, once the US realized that bombing Northern cities did not stop the Southern insurgency, the continuation of those bombings could not be described as serving legitimate strategic military aims anymore. Same thing for the total destruction of Fallujah in Irak. And same thing for the intense bombing of Lebanon.

Once the IDF realized that with all its military might it could not stop Hezbollah from launching rockets on Israel, it escalated its campaign to include many civilian areas, without any better results (Hezbollah rockets stilled rained). It was the result of a failed strategy and it was not legitimate anymore. Hezbollah was not using the airport, it was not using bridges in central and northern Lebanon to receive supplies (since its rockets were already deployed in more than 500 bunkers in southern Lebanon and they had enough to last for months) and it was not launching rockets from Beyrouth. From that point it was obvious that the IDF considered any Lebanese in Beyrouth or Southern Lebanon as a fair target. For as much as I condemn Hezbollah randomly targeting civilian areas in Israel, I still think the huge disparity between 43 civilian casualties in Israel and the more than 1100 in Lebanon is very telling. If that was “surgical strikes”, the surgeons are real butchers. Also, there are no justifiable reason to use “cluster bombs” in civilian areas, except to kill civilians. Those bomblets will take years to be cleared out, and unfortunately, most of the time they will be cleared when people step on them. In Laos (the most bombed country in History), people still die every weak more than 30 years after the end of the US bombing campaign.

I know it is a very long text, but I just wanted to highlight the fact that you cannot condemn Hezbollah without any nuanced view, but then justify bombings that are 20 times more deadly. The 20:1 ration of civilian casualties is also the norm in the Occupied Territories between Palestinians and Israelis.

The following article is interesting it the way it explains the way Israel's failing “strategic” bombings strategy transformed itself into just indiscriminate bombings. http://www.atimes.com/atimes/others/hezbollah.html

I will try to keep the rest short.

The problem with the comparison the Hitler and Mussolini the lack of two important requirements to a fascist state that are not shared by Hamas and Hezbollah: a partisan State and and will of expansion. Both organizations are far from total control of their respective States and neither have expansion ambitions outside of their borders. Don't forget that they are in a defencive, not offencive position. I am aware of the “mafia-like” control they have on the population, but the ideological indoctrination you refer to touches only a minority. The reason people voted for those groups was more to reject the corrupt established elite (both the Fatah and the Saudi-linked Harari clan puppetmasters behind the “Cedar Revolution” government in Lebanon). It was not really for Islamist ideological reasons.

By “Operation Sphinx” I suppose you refer to the Israeli bombing of the Osiriak nuclear reactor in Iraq. But that operation had the consequence of actually convincing Saddam of continuing a even bigger weapons program in secret.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Osirak

For now, Iran is still a signatory of the nuclear NPT and Supreme Leader Khamenei has issued a fatwa declaring that nuclear weapons were against Islam. An Israeli attack would not only make Iran withdraw from the NPT and continue in secret, but would also radicalize its position.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iran_nuclear#The_Iranian_stance
http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Middle_East/IA25Ak03.html

I still believe that Ahmadinejad never said that “Israel had to be wiped out of the map” (how could he say something that does not exist in Persian?). Still, this alleged statement was repeated non-stop in the media but never has this one: (http://www.juancole.com/2006/08/ahmadinejad-we-are-not-threat-to-any.html).

The following link is not to support any of my arguments. Since Ahmadinejad's comments (see link above) were seen by some as an endorsement of the “one-state solution” to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, I found this link interesting.

http://www.worldpress.org/Mideast/2643.cfm

The “two-state solution” is plagued by two non-compromising sides and Fatah's total support for it was more a way for Yasser Arafat to keep his mini-dictatorship on the areas under his control. Now with Arafat dead and Fatah's power monopoly broken by Hamas, the “one-state solution” could regain support.

Vincent Bélanger a dit...

I will try to make it as short as humanly possible. I feel we could argue on this all semester but unfortunately we still need to work on our research paper. hehe

I'm sure you're aware of the fact that in our era (and this include the Vietnam war) enemy combatants no longer wear distinguishable uniforms and occupy known front lines. Enemy combatants now wear civilian clothes and can quickly hide in civilian populated areas knowing they put their own respective population in harm's way. They see those people they ''martyr'' as a way to get the media’s attention in the favour of their cause and it actually works. But what can you do? It's not like they asked them to hide as civilians to be harder to find. In the end, politicians have to take unthinkable decisions to protect their respective country. And seeing how these nations sometimes make war on each other (see Iran-Iraq war, Lebanon civil war etc.), it's clear that these people would do the exact same thing had they the means to.

The comparison with Mussolini and Hitler stopped at having social programmes. They have even less in common Hamas and Hezbollah when you put everything into the equation but my point was that winning elections and have social programmes is simply not enough to justify whatever else they can be doing.

Had Operation Sphinx never happened he would have had those capacities already in the first place. There are still no ''official'' proof that he pursued these kind of weapons programmes after he kicked the UN's inspector out after the first Gulf War. As much as we still don't know what happened to his chemical weapons (Did he sell them? Did he move them to another country like Syria? Or did he felt guilty all of a sudden and decided to get rid of them all of a sudden? Because he proved he had them when he used them on the Kurds. Or did he simply use them all? Anyway that's another subject)

As for the Iran, what you say is, we should give them the benefit of the doubt? That's asking for a lot but I see where you're coming from. It's highly unlikely to happen. There is just too much at risk. Whether or not the Iranian government would willingly produce nuclear weapons, I'm sure you know about how many extremists are in this country. It would make it a lot easier for terrorists to smuggle nuclear materials would the government had them. Corruption is very high in this country and so is their support for Al Qaeda (again I’m not talking about the official government but all it takes is one corrupted official). The link you provided seems to avoid this possibility. (Although I would be interested about reading credible sources tackle this claim… but until then...) Again, there are too many possibilities which will force Israel (with Western help and not only the British and the Americans) to take action if Iran acquires the capacity to produce nuclear materials that could be weaponized and this even if in itself has fatal repercussions and could destabilize the whole region.

Only time will tell who was right and who was wrong.

Vincent Gagnon-Lefebvre a dit...

I agree that the debate is getting a little bit to much time comsuming. But are you sure you want to stop this now?

I agree that the reality of conflict as changed. Many leaders and policymakers often point out that fact. But once on the ground, its like they still have a "in doubt, bomb everyone" mentality that just does not work.

I am not asking to give Iran the benefit of the doubt. Nobody is asking that. Unlike Israel, India or Pakistan, Iran is a NPT signatory and as accepted the very intrusive Additional Protocol. Iran needs nuclear energy for achieving economic growth.

Oil and natural gaz exports are its main source of revenue, so right now, if its GDP rises (and needs more oil for domestic comsuption), the State looses on its export revenues. For example, Venezuela is one of the biggest oil exporters, but almost all its domestic energy needs are met with hydroelectricity.

What I mean is, its only by giving Iran what it needs to acheive its economic goals that corruption, unemployment, extremism and radicalization can be fought. It is one thing to be concerned, it is an other to keep a strategic competitor into underdevelopment through politically-motivated UN resolutions (which in the long term will breed more extremism).

I am convinced that a properous Iran can help bring stability to the three regions it links (Middle East, Central Asia, South Asia). Diplomacy is the only way through this legitimate nuclear security concern, but only if Iran's just-as-legitimate economic concerns are considered.

Vincent Bélanger a dit...

It seems that even the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has doubts regarding Iran's nuclear programme. They said that during investigations Iran was less than cooperative in helping the inspectors. They also found traces of enriched uranium at a spot where Iran claimed that nuclear activies were not happening. But nothing official came out of that last bit of information. There seems to be many more reasons (its history, its links to known terrorist organizations, the fact it does not recognize Israel as a legitimate country etc.) as to why Iran is not trusted on this, it might be why the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1737, sponsored by France, Germany and the UK, passed unanimously...

Have a good weekend