Thursday, August 29, 2013

Why The Rush to "Retaliate"?

We have had two wars in the past two decades and they both started through murky if not dishonest reasoning. We now hear the drum beat again to start prompting allied action in Syria. Why the rush?  As Hans Blix notes in an interview with the Huff Post,

"As far as they are all concerned, a criminal act has been committed so now they must engage in what they call "retaliation." I don't see what they are retaliating about. The weapons weren't used against them. It should be the rebels who want retaliation. If the aim is to stop the breach of international law and to keep the lid on others with chemical weapons, military action without first waiting for the UN inspector report is not the way to go about it. This is about world police, not world law."
You may recall the Bush administration went out of its way to discredit Blix and he returns the favor nicely by exposing the flaws in this latest crop of world leaders' reasoning .  The British public at least seem to have learned the right lessons from recent history with respect to middle eastern conflict and they have  no desire to repeat the same moronic behavior. As Cassidy notes in in his  New Yorker blog, widespread  opposition to Syrian action is cooling Cameron's  desire to play Blair's role in agreeing to follow the Americans, 
"Britons are against military action by a majority of about two-to-one, and the skepticism extends to many supporters of the Conservative-Liberal coalition. In recent days, the voters have been besieging their M.P.s with phone calls and messages, and their protests have had an effect. “Grateful for all the emails I’m receiving from constituents about Syria,” the Conservative M.P. Zac Goldsmith wrote in a tweet on Wednesday. “Unlike so many cut-and-paste jobs, they are authentic & heart-felt.”
Maybe giving the UN a chance to vote on any action might be a good start. If you want to play world policeman and want a world of laws you cannot ignore the one body entrusted with the right to authorize military action under these circumstances. 

Thursday, August 1, 2013

New Book Out! Planet in Peril: Young People to the Rescue

I am very pleased to announce the publication of my new book, Planet in Peril: Young People to the Rescue you can find it on Amazon Kindle among many other venues.Why did I write this book? First because the news headlines concerning the future can make young people especially if not the rest of us feel gloomy and even despondent about the future.

Young people in particular find it harder to separate off their own futures from the general gloom. While a gifted environmental science or social science teacher can give them a perspective on topics like global warming and the many calamities to come, too often the discussion is framed far too abstractly. I wrote this book because students need and want to comprehend their own role and place in this unfolding drama. Without understanding their own sense of agency students can all too often feel depressed and tune
out. But how do students gain this sense of agency? In my view it is through understanding people like themselves acting in the world and working to realize their own goals and following their own core values. My second reason for writing is that for a while now I have been frustrated by the gap between the rhetoric applied to various school reform initiatives and the reality. The rhetoric of why we must change our traditional teacher and text book centered classrooms and embrace more global realities has been in place at least since the cold war ended in the 1980s if not before. Yet despite the introduction of computers that can link any classroom to anywhere around the world, we have been relatively slow in using technology to exploring our global identities, preferring the safety and security of our still quite insular textbooks and the traditional approaches to the curriculum that they so often favor. The latest effort of our still quite insular textbooks and the traditional approaches to the curriculum that they so often favor.  A third and final reason for writing this book is my deep conviction that if we are truly to survive as a species we will need to be able to exhibit a new ethic of cooperation and collaboration that can surmount race and nationality. Young people I have met instinctively understand this and yet in their classrooms they are not shown enough people who may not look like them or sound like them who also want to make a difference on behalf of our common humanity. As the world gets smaller and we all get connected on Facebook and other social networks, we need to do more to show our young people the ways they can make a difference by using their voices to affect positive change in the world.

You can find the book at the following E-Reader Sites--

On Amazon

On Nook