i’m back, and done with university!

I’m back. No, I didn’t forget to update my blog, I’ve just been very busy with university over the last week or so, and with finals. Now everything is over, and all my grades are in, and I’ve completed all my degree requirements! I won’t officially graduate until June 12th, but now I’m all set. So now this is what my next week will look like…

Some of you might be wondering what exactly I’ve been working on over the last four years. While describing that in its entirety on my blog would just be impossible, I’m putting my BA Thesis online in case any of my readers want to take a look at it. I think that the topic is very relevant today, and has important implications for our future. So here it is:

An Examination of the Effectiveness of the United Nations at Protecting the Interests of Smaller Nations within a Realist Unipolar World

My BA Thesis

Comments on my thesis by Professor Charles Lipson, Undergraduate Chair of Political Science at the University of Chicago.

The thesis is by no means perfect, and there are many improvements that could be made, and many sections that could be expanded. However, even in its current form, I’m pretty happy with it, and think it’s worth sharing. Maybe one day I’ll expand this into something a lot more comprehensive.

Comments are welcome.

american hand-holding

Why are Americans so sensitive? I mean seriously, it’s like sometimes a huge chunk of the nation has the collective maturity of a three year old. You just push the wrong button and everybody starts crying. People here really need thicker skin. You guys have it good compared to mostly everyone else, and yet you don’t miss any oppotunities to make yourselves out to be the biggest victims in the world.

The level of self-censorship in the American media is astoundingly high. People were worried that it would happen in Hong Kong after the handover to China (it didn’t), but over here, the media are the government’s lap dogs. Do news outlets have copies of the additional abuse photos that have not been released to tbe public? It’s inconceiveable that they don’t. But they’re not showing them, because Rumsfeld wouldn’t want that. The American public doesn’t want to see that. Objective reporting just isn’t a concept that ever caught on here.

I’m going to write a bit more on Rumsfeld later today.

united states forces in karbala & najaf

According to BBC and Wired News, the United States’ forces have re-entered the cities of Karbala and Najaf, and their tanks are drawing perilously close to the two holiest Shi’ite shrines in the world, within one of which Muqtada al-Sadr has based himself.

While the tanks draw closer and closer to the shrines, I am sure that the United States has enough common sense not to so much as touch them. The amount of fury this would release amongst the local Shiite population and the entire neighbouring country of Iran would be immeasurable, and would make the resistance that the United States has faced thus far look like a peaceful demonstration.

While we know that the United States leadership is aggressive and militant, they’re not stupid. In my opinion, touching either of the two shrines would be an act of stupidity. I just don’t think it’ll happen. For the sake of everyone involved, I certainly hope it doesn’t happen.

senator inhofe & human rights

I know this is sort of oldish news, but I wanted to comment on it anyway. Senator James Inhofe, R-Oklahoma is of the opinion that people are getting too angry over the prison abuses at Abu Ghraib. He says that since the prisoners are probably terrorists, it doesn’t really make sense to care about their treatment.

I find this hard to reconcile with the notion that the United States has gone to Iraq to liberate the Iraqis from the ‘tyranny’ of Saddam Hussein. Certainly part of this liberation would entail the destroying the apparatus of systematic human rights violations. However, Inhofe clearly does not see this as a priority. So what is America really doing there if not providing the Iraqis with basic human rights that they supposedly never had before? What have the Iraqis traded Saddam Hussein for? Another brutal power who has no compunction about violently subjugating those who it sees as its enemies?

Senator Inhofe in saying that we shouldn’t really be concerned about the treatment of Iraqi prisoners has taken the view that human rights don’t matter. According to him, human rights are a privilige that we should grant only to those who are deserving of them. This view is morally repugnant, and one that the United States (hypocritically) regularly chides other nations for holding.

It’s at least of minor consolation that the top levels of the Executive Branch are at least outwardly admitting that this is a problem, if not taking any real steps to account for it, and prevent future occurances. Right now they seem more concerned about making sure that further evidence doesn’t reach the public. Or as Jon Stewart so eloquently put it, they’re trying to find and destroy the Weapons of Mass Documentation.

indian elections

In a completely unexpected turn of events, the Hindu fundamentalist (though less so these days) Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) lost the Indian Elections, which they were widely expected to win. The Congress Party won the elections, and while they did not gain a majority of the seats (normal for Indian elections), they gained enough that Sonia Gandhi is likely to be able to form a coalition government with her as the Prime Minister. Any moderate Indian should be thrilled at this turn of events.

Also pleasing to me were the election results in Gujarat and Maharashtra, in which the Congress Party made significant gains. This is especially important in Gujarat, where BJP sponsored violence against the minority Muslim population there under the direct leadership of Chief Minister Narendra Modi claimed the lives and livelihoods of thousands of Muslims.

nicholas berg

Someone pointed me today to Cryptome, where you can find a video of the depcapitation of Nicholas (Nick) Berg. Here’s the direct link (mirror 1, 2, 3), if you’re interested.

WARNING: YOU MAY FIND THE LINKED VIDEO DISTURBING. IN FACT, IF YOU DON’T, THERE’S PROBABLY SOMETHING WRONG WITH YOU. BE MINDFUL THAT THE VIDEO CONTAINS THE ACTUAL DECAPITATION OF NICHOLAS BERG.

No doubt, many people will use this as an excuse to wage further war against Muslims throughout the world, the Middle East in particular. One thing to keep in mind is that although these killers may justify their actions based on jihad, or some other Islamic principle, it is important to understand that their actions have no Islamic basis whatsover. Their trying to link this murder to Islamic teachings is not only incorrect, but does a disservice to other Muslims worldwide, who are good, tolerant people.

Today, the West’s perception of Islam is shaped primarily by people like this, who perpetuate senseless violence, or by other terrorists. They fail to see the moderate side of Islam because that side is not controversial, and does not make headlines. Yet, the moderate side of Islam is the side that is the most pervasive throughout the world, and the side that is in my opinion, representative of Islamic teachings.

Also remember that this event would have never happened had the United States not taken the unilateral and illegal action of invading Iraq.

ann coulter & sean hannity

Ever wondered what the gatekeepers of hell look like? I must admit that I did too sometimes, but today I actually found a picture of the two of them!

Gatekeepers of Hell

And what can you expect to find on the inside? A library of their books, of course.

ann coulter

Anyone with half a brain should have alarm bells ringing in their head when they hear the name of Ann Coulter. I just had the (dis)pleasure of reading one of her more recent columns, which was rather more offensive than usual, even by her already abominable standards.

Seriously, this woman is worse than stupid. It’s one thing being an ignorant person who isn’t in the know. It’s another thing making up the bull that she does knowing full well that it’s baseless. It’s because of people like her than predjudice exists, and that misconceptions about races and religions get spread.

I’m not usually one to wish harm upon other people, though I will make an exception for her. It’s rather a shame that she wasn’t on one of those four planes that were hijacked on 9/11. The world would be a better place without her vapid drivel.

Would America tolerate a Muslim writing about Jews & Christians the way Ann Coulter writes about Muslims and the Arab world in general? If you’re thinking ‘yes’, then you really need to get a better grasp of reality.