That weren't no DJ, that was hazy cosmic jive

Baird’s Korea rhetoric leaves us in the cold

North Korea, despite its flagrant flouting of nuclear non-proliferation conventions, shall nevertheless chair the UN’s disarmament conference for four weeks – just like every country at the convention does. Imagine, a vitriolic loudmouth making an ironic mockery of the whole diplomatic system, eh John Baird?

Once in a while, the UN system throws up a scenario that can read as farce, it’s true. Libya had its stint chairing the UN Human Rights Commission, just as the DPRK now has its chance at the nuclear non-proliferation convention. It is silly on the surface. The United Nations, though, as a universal organisation, includes everyone. It’s a greater merit of the UN that we at least have a space where mortal enemies can at least purport to sit together resolving things. There are no surprises that governments we find distasteful have a kick at the can as well as our biggest trading partners. That is how the world works.

Canada’s having none of it, though, boycotting the convention over the course of Pyongyang’s four-week presidency. To what aim? This occasion could be one of the most important, if not the only, opportunity of the year where North Korea finds itself in the nuclear spotlight. It’s a chance for a framework besides the moribund six-party talks for the international community to roll up their sleeves and compel some kind of negotiation with the world’s most erratic nuclear power. The Six-Party Framework is, after all, rather a “superpower framework,” plus the two Koreas. Where do middle powers fit? What role can countries like Canada play in strengthening non-proliferation norms on the Korean Peninsula, and how might middle powers elicit a different type of response from a Pyongyang reared on anti-super-imperalist mythology? This could be just such an opportunity for us to build an agenda there, but Ottawa’s turning its back.

Baird’s case will be that he thinks the whole of the UN system has become preposterous, and that he’s trying to embarrass the organisation into reform, beginning with its convention chair rotation policy.

You know, if the Conservatives haven’t learned it yet, I don’t know that they ever will. You cannot effectively contribute to reforming an organisation that you repeatedly ignore and abandon. We have little sway there anymore. Our participation has not been valued for years anyway.

Canada in the UN these days is just like the underperforming whinger on a hockey team – the one who refuses to come to practice, who lobs insults at the bulk of his teammates, who spends more time in the donut shop than the gym, and then threatens to walk out on game day. In the hockey world, the team would say “goodbye!” And in the UN, I assume the response will be the same.

There are plenty of countries in the world not to our liking, and the UN system includes us all. Suck it up is what I’d advise the Baird Ministry. Diplomacy requires something more subtle than feigned outrage followed by the silent treatment. Sticktoitiveness and sleeverollupitiveness is a much more important part of the job, however much Baird can’t stand the smell.

Filed under: Canada, Korea, Politics, , , , , , , ,

If only we’d trained Karzai’s assassin into ‘loyalty’

That Hamid Karzai’s brother, Ahmed Wali “Mr. Kandahar” Karzai, has been killed by the head of his own security forces, is one more violent expression of the single greatest Afghan challenge: getting to grips with loyalty.

Bob Rae and Stephen Harper alike maintain the naive conceit that the Afghan army is largely ineffective because they need our training. The Canadian Forces have some nifty fighting techniques that Afghans simply haven’t thought of or been able to employ. Once we show them how to shoot straight, we can leave the job of national defence to Afghans themselves.

Really? Really now.

I’ve posted this way again and again, but to repeat, Afghanistan is a mercenary landscape. Consolidating loyalties and lasting allegiances in the country is, at once, the greatest challenge to Afghan peace, and also the area in which international forces have the least sway and the least understanding. The suggestion that Karzai’s assassin, Sardar Mohammed, could have been trained out of his true allegiance by the Dutch and Canadians etc. would be laughable, if lives were not at stake.

Filed under: Canada, International, Politics, , , , , , ,

A novel project

Finally, I give birth to a novel. Now, who can I give this crying muck-ball away to?

It isn’t a political thriller, despite the nature of my bloggings, nor is it a story about a purely-fictional conservative prime minister named “Sterling Hopper.” Though if it were, there would be a scene where he crashes into a manure truck.

The backflap is likely to say something such as:

“a thrilling, mysterious escapade; a baroque madhouse brimming with murderous intrigue and alien sex! In a world so inscrutably surreal, you shall be left gasping for a breath which you dare not breathe – lest it infect you in your soul!”

That might be a mite misleading, but hey. It’s basically right.

Next exciting steps for me will include the hunt for an agency and publisher, which is going to be something rather new to me. An exciting process, but also one that will demand infinite patience, and will require me to thicken my already-tortoise-like skin. If you have any advice, I’d definitely welcome it.

I’ll ask you to also be patient, and indulge me in an occasional non-political (and non-dinner) post about these upcoming tribulations, how it’s going, and any interesting bits of news about bookish progress. And, should the day come when I can provide means for you to acquire the story by way of a credit card, you can be certain I will do that.

Thanks everyone – keep on truckin.’
(Or cyclin.’ Or takin’ the train).

Filed under: Uncategorized, , , , , ,

Pollo del Awesome

Long promised, and finally here. It is my distinct pleasure to present a bit of a dinner photo.


Now, I realise that chicken is not supposed to turn out black, and so this picture may indeed be a “turn off.” It shouldn’t be so. This thing was so bloomin’ tasty, such a harmonious symphony of sweet hotness, I would happily raze an entire village of hobbits just to have it one more time.

The recipe was largely made up on the fly, that’s my problem with effectively repeating it. Roughly, I mixed up a spicy breading of jerk (quite a bit), thyme, ground ginger, sesame seeds, paprika, black pepper, a pinch of naga jolokia (super hot) and fine breadcrumbs. Then, wisked an egg, dipped the chicken breast in aforementioned wisked egg, coated it in the breading (pressing a few whole peppercorns in there for the fun of it), and then pan-fried it in sesame oil at a searing heat for two or three minutes. Then it was bunged in an oven-friendly tray with pomodoro cherry tomatoes, and a glug of orange juice, lemon juice, soy sauce, and a couple of dots of butter. Baked for 20 minutes or so. The juice in the tray thickens into a goo you can drizzle over it, and the tomatoes collapse into succulent globs of heaven itself. Jesus, the lord, almighty, hallelujah, jamon. Very simple, but when the balance of spices is just right, wow. It’s neat.

Also featuring on plate, a double-carb extravaganza! Jollof rice and peas, and boiled-then-grilled corn with butter and garlic pepper. Not South Beach friendly, perhaps, but nor am I. In fact, I even had a beer with it, making this a true multigrain meal. Surely that’s supposed to be healthy, according to someone?

Thanks all. Also, for your advance knowledge, I’ll soon be posting some other news which, while equally redundant, it’s hopefully (at least in my view) much more exciting than even this chicken breast. Suspense. Uncontainable.

Filed under: Politics, , , , , , ,

Insincere Encounters of the Dopey Kind: the Ed Miliband Loop

In case Ottawa’s summer recess is leaving you with a shortage of inane, lobotomised robots parroting meaningless spin through your television, here’s a treat I think you’ll like. Britain’s Labour Leader Ed Miliband demonstrating exactly how to do media manipulation in the worst possible way.

ITV’s Damon Green asks Miliband a series of questions regarding last week’s public sector strikes. The questions are different, but the answers are positively identical. Recited, insincere non-responses, memorised in advance, and bleated out regardless of the nature of the question.

It’s part hilarious, and part extraordinarily depressing. Much like life, I guess.

It’s caused a very welcome fuss over here in Angleterre, about the nature of plastic politics and how much dopey insincerity the public should be expected to swallow.

Read Charlie Brooker’s fantastic take on the Miliband Loop, which pretty much says everything I would have said here, so I’ll save myself the typing time, and just direct you to Mr. Brooker. Also, read interviewer Damon Green reflecting on his experience of confronting an unimaginative robot with zero media engagement skills, save for the unashamed willingness to try on a speak-and-spell soundbite mantra in place of a conversation.

Filed under: Politics, UK, , , , , , ,


July 2011

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