Daily Archives: May 21, 2012

Dominica PM talks about Owen Arthur’s no show at DLP conference

Editor’s note: Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit explains what happened to Owen Arthur, who cancelled his scheduled talk to the DLP delegates conference at the last moment. (also see BFP’s post Is Owen Arthur healthy enough to be Prime Minister?)

Comrades and friends good afternoon! It is truly good to be here in St. Joseph today!

It is an honor to have so revered a political thinker in Peter Wickham as our Guest Speaker. I wish to thank him once again for stepping in at such short notice to fill the slot created due to the unavoidable absence of Mr. Owen Arthur, former Prime Minister of Barbados.

Incidentally, Mr. Arthur has asked that I convey to this Conference his very best wishes and sincere apologies for cancelling at the last moment. Personal issues triggered the cancellation but he has insisted that he be provided an opportunity in the very near future to fellowship with the Dominica Labour Party.

To this end, we will be organizing a public forum for sometime next month at which Mr. Arthur has consented to speak and reflect on issues of importance to residents of Dominica and other Caribbean nationals. We in the Dominica Labour Party look forward to that occasion and opportunity…

… continue reading Prime Minister Skerrit’s speech at Dominica News Online

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Afghanistan: America’s and Britain’s latest Vietnam

As the West prepares to ‘Exit with Honour’ from Afghanistan, it is difficult to remember why we were there

Can anyone tell me what has been accomplished by over ten years of American and British boots on the ground in Afghanistan? The Taliban is poised to retake control where they don’t already run things and by all accounts the Afghanistan government and people are ready to let it happen. Women are still treated like dirt – with child brides being bought and sold as a normal practice. According to Medica Mondiale and UNICEF, 57 per cent of Afghan females are married under the age sixteen without their consent, with girls as young as eight and nine being taken as wives by 50 year old men.

And the west is not even talking about the resurgence of Bacha Bazi – the infamous tradition of dressing boys as girls for use as ‘entertainment’ by older men. Sexual abuse of children is a cultural norm that our leaders seem to tolerate – just like they tolerate other Afghan cultural norms such as child brides, the mutilation of women and the continuing abuse, rape and murder of non-Muslims living in Islamic societies.

Islam is enshrined as the state religion in the ‘new’ Afghan constitution. Bibles and other non-Muslim religious texts are forbidden in the country and people have been sentenced to death under the ‘new’ government for leaving Islam, or insulting Islam or the Muslim prophet Mohammed. Anyone who converts to Christianity is sentenced to death by the government courts.

What outcome were we looking for? What is the definition of ‘victory’ in this war? How will we know it is time to leave? Why not now? What will change in another six months or two years?

Last weekend as I dug through an old box of Dad’s things, I came across a thirty-five year old softcover book: A Rumour of War by Philip Caputo. A “Hatchards, Piccadilly, London” card was inside, I presume as a bookmark. I smiled and started reading. Three hours later when I looked up the sun was gone and I hadn’t moved.

From the first page, all I could think about was Afghanistan. I’ve typed out the first page and a bit for you – if you want more you’ll have to buy the book…

In thy faint slumbers I by thee have watch’d And heard thee murmur tales of iron wars…
~ Shakespeare, Henry IV, Part 1

This book does not pretend to be history. It has nothing to do with politics, power, strategy, influence, national interests, or foreign policy; nor is it an indictment of the great men who led us into Indochina and wholes mistakes were paid for with the blood of some quite ordinary men. In a general sense, it is simply a story about war, about the things men do in war and the things war does to them. More strictly, it is a soldier’s account of our longest conflict, the only one we have ever lost, as well as the record of a long and sometimes painful personal experience.

On March 8, 1965, as a young infantry officer, I landed at Danang with a battalion of the 9th Marine Expeditionary Brigade, the first U.S. combat unit sent to Indochina. I returned in April 1975 as a newspaper correspondent and covered the Communist offensive that ended with the fall of Saigon. Having been among the first Americans to fight in Vietnam, I was also among the last to be evacuated, only a few hours before the North Vietnamese Army entered the capital.

Although most of this book deals with the experiences of the marines I served with in 1965 and 1966, I have included an epilogue briefly describing the American exodus. Only ten years separated the two events, yet the humiliation of our exit from Vietnam, compared to the high confidence with which we had entered, made it seem as if a centre lay between them. Continue reading

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