Peoples Geography — Reclaiming space

Creating people's geographies

Some good news for St Patrick’s Day

Yes, I know ’tis but a few twinkles and glimmers of hope, but in honour of St Patrick and for reasons of notching up some successes, here are some selected press picks that will hopefully add some lush green hues into this St Pat’s weekend:

* Norway normalises relations with Palestinian Unity Government, Report, NMFA/ ei 17 March 2007
* Worldwide Protests Mark Iraq War, MWC, 17 March 2007
* Thousands of protestors in US march against Iraq war, M & C, 17 March 2007st-patricks-day.jpg
* Thousands of Christians hold anti-war service in D.C., AP, 17 March 2007
* Tens of thousands stage anti-war rally in Madrid to mark anniversary of Iraq invasion, AP/ IHT, 17 March 2007
* U.S. City Takes Stand Against War With Iran, IPS, 16 March 2007
* California city council (Berkeley) endorses Rumsfeld war crimes prosecution, JURIST, 15 March 2007 :: CCR (C. for Constitutional Rights)

NB. I’m going to try to take a few days blogging break, so may skip a day or two (or more) posting. Look forward to catching up on reading blog posts of my esteemed blogger buddies and concentrating upon work. See you soon.

** Ben Heine features a post on the 4th Anniversary of the Iraq Invasion

** From the A.N.S.W.E.R. Coalition (below). You can see videos of the March at DC Indymedia




15 comments on “Some good news for St Patrick’s Day

  1. peoplesgeography
    18 March, 2007

    To be sure, to be sure ;)

    Gone green just for the day.

    Anyone got any good Irish jokes?

  2. Servant
    19 March, 2007

    Thank you for wearing the green. By the powers vested in me as a deacon in the Ancient Rites of the Blarney Makers – you are officially Irish, Professor Ann. Peace be upon you. May the road rise up to meet you and the wind always be at your back. And my your hangovers never last for more than a day.

    Always miss your posts when you are on break, but I certainly understand how it’s necessary to get away.

    With love and squalor….

  3. Jack
    19 March, 2007

    Ann, sorry for being off topic, but I LOVE this quote I found in the left column on your blog.

    “Those who crusade, not for God in themselves, but against the devil in others, never succeed in making the world better, but leave it either as it was, or sometimes perceptibly worse than what it was, before the crusade began. By thinking primarily of evil we tend, however excellent our intentions, to create occasions for evil to manifest itself.”
    — Aldous Huxley


  4. peoplesgeography
    19 March, 2007

    Thanks, good to see someone get into the spirit so well. Those Irish blessings are just booooodiful.

  5. peoplesgeography
    19 March, 2007

    Hi Jack,

    That Huxley is a brilliant one, isn’t it? I put it there as a reminder and goal to aspire towards, to focus as much on the propositional as the oppositional. When your focus is geopolitics, its all to easy to focus more on the latter and I slip up often no doubt, but I do recognize the importance of focusing on the glass full as well. I think Huxley’s wisdom calls for shifting (evolving?) our modes of thinking. What are your thoughts?

    And the quips about the Bible Study for Bush (to which you replied that wasn’t it a case of the pot calling the kettle black) were just that: flippant quips, dear friend. I’m in no position to direct any self-righteous religious indignation at any one. :) I make the quips based on the gulf between Bush’s declared beliefs and the policies that so blatantly violate them. Yes, all of us are sinners, dear Jack, but not all of us are war criminals either.

    The other thing that strikes about Huxley’s quote is the implicit acknowledgment that thoughts matter. Thoughts ultimately create and manifest reality. Or as the Upanishads have it:

    “Watch your thoughts, for they become words.

    Watch your words, for they become actions.

    Watch your actions, for they become habits.

    Watch your habits, for they become character.

    Watch your character, for it becomes your destiny.”

    – Upanishads

    In other words,
    Thoughts become words. Words become actions.
    Actions become habits. Habits become character.
    Character determines destiny!

  6. Curtis
    19 March, 2007

    Aaaaargh… if it’s not Scottish, it’s ****!

    Sorry, it’s genetically programmed.

    Just kidding. Happy St. Patty to you and it’s spring break here, by the way. Sadly, no beach trip is in the cards for Curt. :-( Just a research paper for psych.

  7. peoplesgeography
    19 March, 2007

    :D Och, I’ve always liked the Scottish, more than a wee bit ;)

    I love Scotsman George Galloway’s good humoured snipe at the English. His grandfather told him:

    “The sun will never set on the British Empire …

    … God doesn’t trust the British in the dark!”

    or something to that effect.

    Hope you enjoy your Spring break, research paper inclusive.

  8. Jack
    20 March, 2007

    Hi Ann!

    Sorry! I should have been a little clearer in my comment earlier. I was referring to ANYONE in the Carter Administration criticizing ANYONE in any other administration about foreign policy. With time most people forget, but for those of us old enough to remember, we know that President Carter was a foreign policy joke and failure. Bless his heart, he was a good man, but a poor excuse for a president. Its interesting to see him (and those of his cabinet) criticize the Bush Administration, when he had so many blunders to his credit. Please forgive me if I made you think that I directed that at you–would never do that! :)

    I too was critical of the President during his campaign for evoking religion (of course that was done by both President’s Carter and Clinton) as a means of actualizing the Christian voting base. I think you and I would be in alignment there. I don’t quite buy into the Chavez, “Bush is the devil” type thought that seems to simmer within the ideological left. I have written several articles about Bush concerning my thoughts about why the left hates President Bush (a concept I found fascinating) because I view a majority of his policy both foreign and domestic as being leftist in nature. A couple of examples:

    1. We have implemented more protectionist and subsidy economic policy under the Bush Admin than in any time past.

    2. We have the greatest increase in entitlement spending (social welfare) under a president since FDR.

    3. Even though there were miniscule tax cuts (I criticized them for being too small–that he too easily gave into the Democrat minority of the time) the trend in this nation has still been wealth redistribution. The top 50% of wage earners pay 96.54% of all federal income taxes, the top 1% pay 34%.

    4. The Administration has lobbied to increase the governments influence in and regulation of religious organizations.

    5. The RATE of growth in size and scope of government has increased more under the current administration.

    And I could go on. Now it is interesting that the left in this country hated President Bush even while he was campaigning. This was unusual, because in his governing of the state of Texas he was known as the great unifier. He was able to bring both Reps and Dems together on issues, and had developed quite a reputation for collaboration and compromise. Of course, this was one reason that I did not support him in the primaries. The only thing that I could pick up from the ideological left at that time as a basis for their hatred, (yes, there were even people talking about assassination then. and this was even before 9/11 and Iraq), was that he had professed Christianity. Now I may be wrong, but this was the only thing I could figure out at the time. Here was a Democrats’ Republican, a first runner up liberal who would be ok even if he happened to win the election over Captain Environment. I predicted then, that all of the things that conservatives were hoping for (executive review of Roe v. Wade, less government, lower taxation, deregulation, etc.) would NOT be a priority of a Bush Administration. I referred to him as a RINO (Republican In Name Only). I identified “compassionate conservatism” as an oxymoron and a dangerous concept. I made many predictions in the beginning and of course, I humbly say with a great deal of regret have also been 100% correct.

    Even leading up to 9/11 and Iraq, no matter what President Bush did was wrong. There are people in this nation who STILL actually believe that he stole the election!

    And then 9/11 took place, and it became the Bush legacy. We will never know what the Bush Presidency would have/could have been because of 9/11. All of the campaign promises and priorities were swept aside after the attack on American soil.

    Now, Ann, since you are in academia, you know that one of the biggest problems in learning today is linear thought. Critical analysis has been tampered with to the extent that the ideological dogma of the educational establishment cannot be questioned. We no longer have independent thought, pure scientific method, the quest for higher learning. If you look around, it is easy to find infogeniuses, but rare to find true renaissance thought. We have returned to live in a world of absolutes devoid of complexity. Things have gone back to “right/wrong”, “black/white”, “good/evil”, etc. Many take an issue, stake a position and then google their computer to death to support it. Issues of unimaginable complexity get narrowed down to “either/or” equations, that fit the comfort zones of minds unwilling to consider all of the variables. We are not using more of our brain, we are just moving information faster to suit our belief systems. This is evidenced in so many ways:

    -The current environmentalism is an either/or proposition. It is largely split down ideological lines. Either side accepts their own dogma unquestioned.

    -The rise in homosexuality and its treatment as a social issue is an either/or proposition.

    -Wars, ethnicities, land disputes, etc., etc. are either/or issues largely determined by ideologies

    (I look at ideology the same as I do religion–faith based paradigms that are largely unshaken by impirical data.)

    In the world of linear thought:

    Bush = Evil
    Liberal = Facist
    Religion = Godly
    Global Warming = Fact
    Homosexual = Bound for hell

    Unfortunately the world is not that simple. There are often hundreds of variables to every situation, but the positions we take are often founded on concrete and fundamental thought.

    Years ago when I was teaching I used to pose a hypothetical conundrum to my class to see what kind of thinkers I had in my class. It was usually a question like: “Is [some social issue–take your pick] right or wrong?” Judging by the answers I received from the class, I would determine what kind of thinkers (if any) I had in the class.

    It would usually break down this way:

    Normal intelligence and reasoning traditional student: Answer would either be “right or wrong”

    Higher intelligence traditional student: Ranged from “not sure–jury is still out”, to “right or wrong” with varying degrees qualifications or inserted variable thinking.

    Non-traditionals: Same as the higher intellects.

    Now I’m not saying that the more intelligent one is or the more experienced one is the less absolutes there are in the world, just that the more experienced or intelligent one is, the more variables that are perceived and the less likely premature judgments are made. I know Doug must think I’m crazy, but when I tell him that I have little or no opinion formulated on the Iraq war he wonders if I’m an imbecile. :) For some, this issue is black and white–but I look at the countless variables within a geopolitical spectrum and find that there are possibly thousands of pieces of information that are not available to me yet, (or maybe never will be), that will help me come to a full conclusion–and often times I just come away overwhelmed and confused. I believe morally that war is wrong, but I also see it as a reality of humanity that has existed since its conception. Ann, to show you how far behind I am, I’m still working out World War II in my own mind, and its very possible that I will die before I come to a moral judgment on it!

    Ok, further on into your comment.

    You had mentioned “war criminal.” This is a term that I hear used often, and I am making a serious inquiry here when I ask what you mean. Are you saying that President Bush is a war criminal? If so, what is a war criminal, whose court has jurisdiction over such a trial, what specific laws have been broken, etc. I think that if anyone can explain this to me, Ann, you can. So far, I haven’t had too much luck on other blogs, because many of them state it, but its just repeating something they heard. (A quick note though about my Walter Mitty past – I was an Administrative Law Judge for 5 years with a tiny bit of insight into domestic and international law –just enough to get me in trouble–ha! If you could let me know anything you can about the legal basis of such a case maybe you could help me understand it from there.) Something to think of in advance though. The United States does not recognize any controlling authority. By our laws (and Constitution) we consider ourselves a sovereign nation, and do not recognize any world order (courts, governments, etc.).

    I like Upinshad also! The problem with me, though, is that I should have been much more vigilant throughout my lifetime per his warning.

    Apologies once again, Ann, for writing an epistle.


    P.S. You do understand that I wasn’t referring to you with the “pot/kettle” statement don’t you? I just wanted to make sure.

  9. peoplesgeography
    20 March, 2007

    Jack — thanks very much for this, to which I’ll respond shortly.

    I was 90% sure about the pot/ kettle, just wanted to cover both bases. ;)

  10. Jack
    20 March, 2007

    Good! You don’t strike me as a “pot” type person, Ann!

    BTW, I know I wrote a lot, and asked a lot. Please don’t feel that you have to respond, Ann! Only if you have time.


  11. peoplesgeography
    21 March, 2007

    Thanks, I look forward to responding, hopefully within the next 24 hours. Been a bit snowed under the last few days work-wise but shall return and I relish engaging with it. I appreciate the time you put in.


  12. Bluebear2
    21 March, 2007

    Some of the most beautiful photos I’ve seen since 1969!

  13. peoplesgeography
    22 March, 2007

    Hi Jack,

    Thanks very much for your thoughtful and generously worded responses. You may know March is when semester teaching gets into gear here, so I’ve had head down and tail up for the past few days particularly.

    First, your ethic of personal autonomy and responsibility that you enunciated in the next-to-previous comment (ie one before the last one) response resonates with me. As you state:

    … upper hemisphere, the realm of personal responsibility, faith in humanity and its achievements, and the fundamental belief that humans should be allowed to largely chart their own course of existence.

    In the social sciences generally, so much focus is put upon structure and not enough, until recently, on agency and I feel that an agential focus helps empower groups and individuals to start acting for themselves.

    You write:

    I struggle to find myself supporting any initiative that takes away those freedoms. Not even when it sounds like a good idea (seat belt laws, torte reform, marriage bans, cigarette laws, child rearing laws, hate crime laws), do I tend to budge, driven by the singular ideal that: “I would rather be exposed to the inconvenience attending too much Liberty than those attending too small degree of it.” Thomas Jefferson

    Yours is very much a freedoms and liberty centred political cosmology and I’m inclined to agree here too; though we can see the sound rationale for such laws as those governing the compulsory use of seat belts to protect lives, it hasn’t escaped notice that legislation is ballooning into every area of social life and that we are in many cases becoming ridiculously over-regulated.

    The historian Tacitus noted that ‘The more corrupt the state, the more numerous the laws.’ While I haven’t empirically tested this proposition, it certainly would seem to be in keeping with yours and Jefferson’s wisdom about maintaining liberty. This suggests to me that liberty is in part a culture that needs to be assiduously cultivated, rather than simply legislated.

    In reference to another specific example you mentioned, that of cigarette laws: just on observation, it appears that more smoking laws, at least here in Australia, haven’t had as much as a slight bump on reducing smoking. More people are smoking than ever before, despite all the laws in place.

    Certainly, I support the assertion that any reduction in smoking ought, ideally, to be voluntary, not one coming from imposed external authority purporting to know what’s best for us. The interesting question for me is how do we best apply our energies to cultivate this libertarian culture so as to obviate and prevent such an authoritarian, over-regulated, over-legislated nanny state?

    As you write:

    I believe also that there are more good people than bad–and have a great deal of faith in humanity. The egalitarian mind does not, it looks at individuals as children who must be ruled and controlled with definitive parameters. It makes laws for good people. It is the parent that tells their child they HAVE to share, have to eat all of their vegetables. Children are not to be trusted to even take care of themselves or attend their responsibilities, therefore the need for a parent or guardian. So the Nanny State is called in to sit the child and make sure they should behave as good citizens should.

    Another good example is compulsory voting. You’d know that its compulsory in Australia. In principle, I’d side with the libertarians and say, ideally it should be voluntary. But in the absence of a strong voluntarist civic culture, the system is just going to be open to abuse and undermine the very democracy it claims to uphold.

    The electoral primaries in the US can be mind-boggling to the outsider, but then so can the Australian system of preferential rather than first past the post voting. Both have their pros and cons and it is outside the ambit of this discussion to discuss their relative democratic merits and deficiencies.

    But I’d still rather the will of the people be as accurately reflected as possible, and some countries have achieved a high voluntary turn-out rate. Again, it boils down to the culture of strong, voluntarist civic responsibility. I don’t know whether Australia would achieve that, since we’ve long had compulsory voting. Certainly, there are a small number of people who consciously choose not to vote, and pay the $50 fine. I support the right not to vote, but I am dissatisfied with how a system can claim to be a functioning democracy if it is not underpinned with this reasonably high voter turn-out, voluntary or compulsory. As it stands currently, I thus find the US and UK voter turn-out unsatisfactory.

    To the most recent comment re the Carter Democratic era. Yes, there were foreign policy blunders, both there and in the Clinton administration. The current US foreign policy course of greater unilateralism arguably started in Clinton’s presidency, even before the events of Sept 11, 2001. I do not hate Bush as a person, just as you do not hate Carter as a person. But I do think his has been the worst Presidency and administration in recent times.

    Watching his campaign and the Presidential contest debates before his first term, I thought he actually campaigned well. I certainly had not formed an antinomy to him simply because he was Republican and the son of Bush Senior. Whatever his successes as a governor and as a unifier in Texan politics as you write, this does not appear to have translated well onto the national stage, to my mind. Has Bush brought Americans together? Or is the US more divided now more than ever? That is something for Americans to decide and judge, of course. But many of my friends and associates seem to feel that it is the latter.

    The characteristics you enumerate about the George W. Bush administration (greater state regulation of government, increase in size and scope of government and welfare) can indeed be leftist, but they can also be characteristics of rightist governments as well. I do not think they are inherently one or the other. Libertarianism can also be both. Economic protectionism has also transcended the left-right distinction as we can see in several governments around the world.

    You write:

    There are people in this nation who STILL actually believe that he stole the election!

    Well, on weighing the available evidence I am one who believes that it was essentially a stolen election, that Bush was selected, not elected. But I am not claiming that he stole the election with this nefarious intent necessarily or that it was somehow a conspiracy, merely that his team more than took advantage of events to swing the precarious result his way. And would-be voters were disenfranchised according to the overwhelming documented evidence.

    It is thus not only my contention that Gore won the popular vote, it is my contention that evidence would have shown that he would have won the primaries as well. Bush was supposed to have Florida, the state in which his brother governed, by a mere 537 votes. In one county alone, Palm Beach, defects in the ballot form resulted in at least 2000 people who intended to vote for Al Gore inadvertently vote for Pat Buchanan (curiously, there were no misdirected votes for Bush). I would be happy to send you links to several credible investigative articles that cast serious questions and concerns about this as well as the electronic voting machines such as those owned by Diebold. All I ask is that you look into the matter, and judge whether it is evidence that is ideologically driven, or not.

    I most certainly concur that critical thought and independent reasoning are rare traits and value relational over categorical, linear, either-or thinking.

    As you enunciate:

    Now I’m not saying that the more intelligent one is or the more experienced one is the less absolutes there are in the world, just that the more experienced or intelligent one is, the more variables that are perceived and the less likely premature judgments are made. I know Doug must think I’m crazy, but when I tell him that I have little or no opinion formulated on the Iraq war he wonders if I’m an imbecile. :) For some, this issue is black and white–but I look at the countless variables within a geopolitical spectrum and find that there are possibly thousands of pieces of information that are not available to me yet, (or maybe never will be), that will help me come to a full conclusion–and often times I just come away overwhelmed and confused.

    Well this hints at a deeper epistemological question about how we evaluate what and how we know about the world and to what extent is the world knowable etc. Certainly there are pieces of information we do not yet know, but as you yourself suggested in your spot-on comments about information vs knowledge and higher thinking, it is our ability to grasp and assess the fundamental patterns, not necessarily having every little bit of information at hand, that matters most. The world is nuanced, complex and not absolute yes, but nevertheless there are patterns that I would suggest does allow us to make intelligent assessments and arguments about the situation in Iraq.

    As you know, the lower order thinking tends to be limited to solving technical problems within a given framework, not really questioning the construction of that framework or paradigm itself.

    Further, you write:

    I believe morally that war is wrong, but I also see it as a reality of humanity that has existed since its conception. Ann, to show you how far behind I am, I’m still working out World War II in my own mind, and its very possible that I will die before I come to a moral judgment on it!

    As a student and teacher of international relations, I have sought to understand war and peace, its causes, complexities, consequences, actors, structures, agents. It is my considered opinion that while war has been a feature of the human condition (as have peaceful relations), it has not necessarily been a natural, inevitable or immutable one. Nor is it a phenomenon that is shrouded in mystique that is beyond the understanding of anyone not a soldier or statesman. It is eminently understandable and knowable, to my mind. That is, one does not need to be an infogenius, as you memorably put it, in the minutiae of facts in order to come to a reasonably intelligent and considered opinion, as you have demonstrated so well on other topics.

    On a last point, you rightly query the use of the term war criminal as it pertains to George Bush and I’d be happy to proffer my explanation for its use. Yes, the US is a sovereign nation, as are 190 odd other states. These states voluntarily recognize international law through a number of mechanisms such as treaties. It is true that the Bush administration has decided not to be a signatory to the Rome Statute (the founding treaty) of the International Criminal Court (ICC)—first signed up by Clinton—for example and does not recognize its jurisdiction. You may already be aware that the ICC is a tribunal to prosecute individuals for genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, and the crime of aggression (surprise, surprise!).

    So let’s look at other mechanisms and instruments of international law the US government does recognise. To cite but one (I can come back to this later, too), the UN Security Council passed a resolution in 1981 essentially stating the illegality of a state attacking another on the pretext that it detected a threat.

    The US supported the resolution. Not a proposal, a resolution.

    In 2002 the Bush administration announced the doctrine of “preemptive action”. It was used to justify the invasion of a sovereign state, Iraq, on the pretext —-since proven false —-that Iraq might have been developing weapons of mass destruction. And no, it wasn’t ‘faulty’ intelligence, the record shows that it was cooked intelligence and again I’d be happy to come back to this to supply more detailed evidence than this overview response may allow. Also proven false: GWB’s justifications to go to war based on Saddam Hussein’s alleged ties to Al Quada. No ties were found or proven.

    On this alone, Bush would be a war criminal, and I haven’t yet even cited other weighty reasons both in international law and in US law that some of Bush’s actions constitute impeachable offenses, such as the wiretapping of US citizens. Is lying to the US and the world not enough?

    Mess Accomplished.

    A million Iraqis now dead since 2003 on a pack of lies. Over 3000 dead US soldiers dead – why? What legitimate reason did the Bush administration possibly have for invading another sovereign country? That Saddam Hussein was a dictator (armed and abetted by various US administrations, as are so many others)— was the loss of over a million lives for that? One in four children is now malnourished, the Iraqis want the US out of their country (Zogby poll–see previous posts here) and the private corporate profiteer vultures such as Halliburton and Bechtel are encircling Iraq’s resources. I could go on and have previously posted on this many times. With all due respect for your intelligence and due caution, what else do you need to form an opinion here, Jack?

    In sum, my position is that the Bush-Cheney junta has been a disaster for the US, both for US citizens, its standing in the world, and for many peoples of the world, especially in the Middle East. I’d say similar things of previous administrations and conversely endeavour to give credit where credit is due. That doesn’t change the facts. Both parties have been but branches of the War Party here. But Bush and Cheney’s culpability (where the buck stops, to quote another US President) has been supreme.

    I close for now letting Bush speak for himself: “Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we. They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we.” (August 2004, Washington DC).

    Yes, indeed.

  14. peoplesgeography
    22 March, 2007

    Thanks BlueBear. I was encouraged by news of the rallies. I was impressed that thousands turned up in the cold. Europe’s rallies, particularly Spain’s, had a great showing also.

  15. Jack
    24 March, 2007

    Hi Ann!

    Sorry so late in getting back into you. A couple days away and I miss a LOT at PG!

    I’ll be back for further discussion.

    Hope you are well!


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Timely Reminders

"Those who crusade, not for God in themselves, but against the devil in others, never succeed in making the world better, but leave it either as it was, or sometimes perceptibly worse than what it was, before the crusade began. By thinking primarily of evil we tend, however excellent our intentions, to create occasions for evil to manifest itself."
-- Aldous Huxley

"The only war that matters is the war against the imagination. All others are subsumed by it."
-- Diane DiPrima, "Rant", from Pieces of a Song.

"It is difficult
to get the news from poems
yet men die miserably every day
for lack
of what is found there"
-- William Carlos Williams, "Asphodel, That Greeny Flower"