Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Journey to the dark side

President Obama hasn't turned out to be exactly the breath of fresh air that we expected in Washington, instead he has completed the journey to the 'dark' side - he has become a war president! To the hopeful nation and a concerned world, Obama has turned his back. To appease the centrists and right wingers, to not being labeled as weak on national security, he has declared "our national security is at stake" and men and women will be sent to the mountains of Afghanistan to fight a war with people who have been fighting off invaders since time immemmorial.

during the preceding year [...] shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses.

Somebody, please take this man's Nobel Peace Prize away!!!

Monday, November 16, 2009

A Perfect Bow

Every time Obama bows there is group of clowns that go crazy on Foxnews. God, how much love that! Just for that entertainment, I am glad that Obama continues to perfect his bow. 

On a serious note, I think it is the continued strategy of de-legitimizing his presidency and personality is what is behind such blatant attacks by the right wing media. 

Sunday, November 15, 2009

China and Pakistan

While reading about Obama's press conference with chinese students, I was reminded of the meeting Clinton held in Pakistan with almost the same format. The difference is that Clinton's Q&A session was broadcast live with no censoring and the students did ask some real tough questions.

On the contrary, Obama's Q&A was not broadcast live in China - worse, it got censored by the government and released later edited by the government run media. The following questions will give a sample of how serious this Q&A has been.
how does Mr. Obama keep fit; who pays for Mrs. Obama’s dresses; does the president like kung pao chicken; is he adept with chopsticks; how much wine can he drink at one sitting; does he allow his children to play games?
There were some questions about weapons to Taiwan and economic issues, but the overwhelming issues seem to be the kind quoted above. I draw the comparison to Pakistan because here is a country that we consider as a dump, its rendezvous with democracy has always been questionable and its arms are twisted for any fight that we need them for. Yet, the people for the most part are free to ask and do whatever they want. But, in China, despite its economic success, censorship and oppression have become the way of life, but we don't dare say anything about it. The philosophy that governed the world for centuries - might is right - still seems to be the natural state of affairs, democracy and freedom of expression have only meaning when the leaders do not heed to our demands.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Khalid Sheik Mohammed

6 years ago when Khalid Sheik Mohammed was nabbed from his home in Pakistan, he looked only a bit sleepy and irritated.

Now after years in U.S. custody, he looks like Osama's brother.

Apparently, this is not the first time, Khalid Sheik had been behind bars in American prisons. According to wikipedia.
However, according to a US intelligence summary reported on August 29, 2009 by the Washington Post, his time in the U.S did lead him to become a terrorist. "KSM's limited and negative experience in the United States — which included a brief jail stay because of unpaid bills — almost certainly helped propel him on his path to becoming a terrorist," according to this intelligence summary.

Friday, November 06, 2009

Sea Change

I picked up this book as I wandered around in the library looking for something that would give a glimpse of life at sea. This is all thanks to my recent enthusiasm in learning sailing.

Sea Change by Peter Nichols is nothing profound - it is an ordinary story of an ordinary sailor narrated in ordinary language. It is about his solo voyage across Atlantic in his wooden boat. The life at sea forces him to reflect upon his life, his love and the endless passages done by sailors before him. What it exposes is the soul of a sailor, the longing for the sea, the heart that finds solace in the wilderness of the ocean.

The last line in the book is pretty revealing
What I will do now is to find my way back to sea

Friday, October 02, 2009

Mahatma Gandhi

Another oct-2 passes by, a reminder of a soul who lived in a way that is unimaginable in this modern world. Every oct-2 reminds me of an indifferent world of today that is apathetic to the suffering of people, non-violent protests of any kind having no way to break through the cycle of violence, whether it be Darfur or Iraq or Palestine or Iran - despair is the only world that comes to mind.

Mahatma Gandhi too lived in tumultuous times, unprecedented violence like holocaust, world war, nuclear annhiliation, but he wasn't conflicted by the idealogies, his steadfast conviction in non-violence as a tool of protest never gave way based on the parties involved in it. But i often wonder, for all of good words by the world leaders, how many of them truly believe in the words of Mahatma Gandhi? Is he just an ideal of bygone times, much like the teachings of Jesus - turn the other cheek? How many christians believe in the puritanical view of non-violence that Jesus preached?

Yet, in today's times, if Mahatma Gandhi lived today, I am afraid if he would have been considered a peacenik oblivious to the real practical politics, pushed to the sidelines and forgotten!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Burning Man Video (source: vimeo.com)

Evolution (Burning Man time lapses) from Delrious on Vimeo.

This is awesome time-lapsed video from Burning Man. ((source: vimeo.com)

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Tom Delay?

what the hell happened to Tom Delay?

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

To Rachel Maddow

I love Rachel Maddow for the liberal that she is. But come on, what's up with all these you tube videos of obscure rants from some crazies in the red states? Quotes from people-who-will-never-make-it-to-anywhere-near-washington? Carefully selected out of context clips?

I have no doubt in believing that there are enough crazies in this country, but even for a liberal like me, I cringe when i see some of these tactics by the media. Don't stoop to the level of Fox news and O'reilly and Glenn Beck, you are far more intelligent than any of them!

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

The Burning Man

5 days at Burning man was a mind blowing experience. It was all that I had imagined it to be and more.

This was my first trip and I had read and heard all about it; but the reality could not be more different, the scale is just beyond imagination. For me, it was a celebration of life, relentless spirit of humanity to push the limits of human potential and a radical form of self expression. Sure, the people get there for various reasons - some for drugs, some for all night partying, some for the wilderness that becomes a city for a week. For me, it was the whole concept of a city that was born out of nothing and disappears into nothing, like life itself, that attracted me to Burning Man in the first place - the only thing that comes alive in the middle is sheer creativity, from kinetic race cars, mutant vehicles to sculptures that defy imagination. In the backdrop of the Black Rock Desert, under the dark night sky, the temporary city never sleeps. To the wee hours of morning, the music, dance and shows continue. With weary legs and groggy eyes, the campers return to their tents only to sleep for an hour or two before returning to the infinite theme camps that adorn the playa. The temple at the Playa is an outstanding experience, the burners write with marker pens on the wooden structure the tales from their hearts, a heart rending emotional and spiritual experience.

We built a shade structure from scratch which turned out to be a humongous project for our skill set, but it still withstood the ruthless sand storms. The self reliance in the harsh climate of the desert is no joke and the spirit of Burning Man does not allow any commerce on the playa. Instead the burners trade things, help each other out - it is a social experiment at one level. The strict rules imposed on the playa is to preserve the fragile ecosystem of the desert.

After 5 days, when I left the Playa, I couldn't help wonder; was it worth it? Absolutely. Would I return? Probably. But I don't know when. There is too much to prepare just for five days; but there are no regrets - it was a thing of beauty.

[edited later]

At dinner table recently, this discussion came up - how green is BM? It is not green or anything getting to burning man and all the preparation you have to do. In fact, that is one of the discussions we had while driving up there. But given the nature of the different elements involved in it, they have tried to make it as eco friendly as possible. It is very unique to get the different elements blended in as well as it has at burning man, art, music, self expression and reliance, extreme nature, no-commerce environment and 50000 people who build a temporary neighborhood and share the values of being good neighbours for a week. if you take any of these elements away, burning man won't be the same. I came back with a sense of awe - the whole experience of construction and destruction, while not green necessarily, symbolizes the life itself - in fact, its origins belong to some budhist ideals i believe. the ability to burn something that you worked dearly for symbolizes the detachment one should feel for everything that surrounds you, with the fire what burns down is more than the physical elements in it, but the desire, ego, pride, and all that. Well, there are infinite ways to look at something like this - the simplest way to look at it is that BM is a celebration of life and its beauty. At the end of it, it is an experience that fills your heart with joy, one should experience (burn!) it to know it.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

RIP: Senator Kennedy

Kennedy's death is a huge loss to the liberal movement in the U.S. Rest in Peace!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

'Social Studies' by Fran Lebowitz

Fran Lebowitz was an accidental find during a recent stay at Venice Beach, L.A. Among the countless books adorning the book shelf in the living room - most of them have only the decorative value - I found a book titled 'Social Studies'. The book was small enough to finish over a couple of days and looked lighthearted. Sure it was. It is a hilarious depiction of high society living, the perils of being wealthy and the insurmountable problems that besiege the 'successful'. It is also a sarcastic look at modern day parenting and a whole lot of awkwardness that we have created around us in our day to day lives. A fine read, it will give you a good laugh for sure.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Newbie in Big Rock Desert

For the first time, I will be attending burning man this year. Regardless of what you read about other people's experiences, I am told that the overall experience of this counter culture festival can only be experienced in person. And so we will see. As the first thing in preparation, we are building a shade structure, thanks to the instructions from here. We have concerns about its ability to withstand 70 mph winds - we have a backup plan to introduce further stability if the situation arises. In any case, there is much work to be done, more stuff to be bought. But an RV, shade structure and a whole lot of excitement are in place.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

The violent sea

"The violent sea"
Quick 10 minute painting in Oil. Inspired by a sunset in half moon bay, CA.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Another painting

This is copied from a Picasso painting; i picked up the post card of this painting from Picasso Museum in Barcelona. (Oil)

Monday, June 22, 2009

Don't be afraid

she walked in silence,
miles on end, beside her father

through the heartless wilderness
that Iran has become;
a young woman who had dared to dream,
heart to speak out
a whole life to live.
she walked in silence,
stay with me - her father whispered,

so she did, miles on end.
through the distraught neighborhoods,
rooftops resonating with voices of defiance.
roads filled with people after people -
where did all these people come from - she wondered.
then she heard the gunshots,
stay with me - her father held her hands.
they turned back, but too late,
she felt the burning inside her heart,
soaked in blood,
she tripped, her father screamed - stay with me.
Don't be afraid, stay with me - her father wept.
Gazed into eternity, she died in defiance,
She told the world - don't be afraid!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Media in the dark

The foreign news media has been banned by a paranoid regime in covering the events unfolding in Iran. Then what did the main stream media do? They packed their bags and left; and then they subscribed to twitter feeds and you tube videos. Last night, CNN was streaming a you tube video continuously lamenting that they do not have access to information.

Really, aren't there other ways to get news for these major corporations? Don't they have telephone contacts with local news agencies and so forth? If indeed this is how it works, it seems like Iranian regime's ban is working to an extent.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

The end game

I have been addicted to the news from Iran for the last few days - even in the middle of the night, I checked my twitter feeds to hear the latest from the streets of Iran. It has been an emotional roller coaster seeing the vast sea of humanity filling in every corner of Tehran, defying the supreme leader's order to end the demonstration.

For the longest time, I believed that Iran has more potential to evolve into a real democracy than most of its Arab neighbors. Compared to the monarchies of the Middle East, Iran's elections have been generally fair and square, of course with the catch that the power doesn't lie with the elected president, but it lies with the guardian counsel and supreme leader, who controls the revolutionary guard and the powerful militia. This time, people snapped when the only real thing in the Iranian democracy - the voting - turned out to be fraud; but I am not sure anymore whether it is just the fairness in elections that they want back. Or is it about curtailing the infinite powers of the parallel power structure built by Mullahs. If it is the latter, bloody days are ahead of us. It is ultimately the people's right to build a government they want and deserve; Mousavi's latest statement seems to indicate that the protests will continue. I hope he has a clear goal in mind on how to end this.

PS: How refreshing it is to see U.S keeping a low key and thus passively helping the cause in Iran. There are still reasons to like Obama :)

[picture courtesy: http://niacblog.wordpress.com]

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

The stolen election

The Iran elections have taken over the news channels with not much real news but with rather shallow punditry. Tom Friedman's column on New York Times reveals the same pitfalls that most journalists fall into. Muslim world is diverse and the issues that they care about deeply vary from place to place. Like any other population, often the local issues play more important role than the international and ideological issues. For a man who has spent considerable number of years reporting on the middle east, the broad stroke that he paints the muslim world with is rather disappointing.
Hezbollah was defeated in the Lebanese elections. Hamas is facing an energized Fatah in the West Bank and is increasingly unpopular in Gaza. Iraqi Sunnis have ousted the jihadists thanks to the tribal Awakening movement, while the biggest pro-Iranian party in Iraq got trounced in the recent provincial runoff.
There is also an assertion here that the more liberal forces are winning and it is the beginning of a trend; as much as I would like to believe that these kind of changes are cyclical - when candidates do not deliver, people vote for a different party and such changes are not uncommon wherever there are free elections.

Glued to the news in bits and pieces and tweets, there are indications that it was a stolen election, but the reality is that people are helpless. Only thing that can be done is to insist on building better mechanisms to prevent fraud in future elections.

To the thousands of people who are marching in the streets of Tehran, your efforts are not in vain. Because of your courage and conviction, some day Iranian people will have a government they deserve -

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Taxi to the other side

Watching 'Taxi to the other side' is disturbing. The story of the poor Afghan driver, Dilawar is emblematic of everything that is wrong with American policies - how terrorists are created day after day, how our tax dollars are spent to kill. The sinister game of death and violence continue in remote parts of the world - there is no let up even since Obama's presidency; many more Dilawars disappear into oblivion, yet we, as people in arguably the greatest democracy in the world, are unable to stop it - we will have 100 million people voting in a tv contest, but in matters that are important, our voices do not leave our throats -

Thursday, June 04, 2009

A good possibility

There it is. Finally it is done. From the historic city of Cairo, Obama spoke like no other U.S. president before him. There are faultfinders on either side of the spectrum; some would argue that this is another lip service from another American president, others might find Obama to be less critical of the Islamic world in areas like democracy and human rights. But the reality is that forging friendship takes hard work - the confrontational approach of Bush got us to where we are today. 'You are either with us or against us!' got us to a world where most people chose to be against us. He had to do the rope walk, he couldn't pander to the forces the wish harm to the U.S, nor he could lecture the muslim nations on their problems - so he did what he had to, quite brilliantly.

Speeches of this stature are of enormous importance, but even more important are the actions that follow them. It will take a while before we can fathom the impact of Obama doctrine, but words would remain simply as words, as long as the U.S continues invasions of 'choice', conduct target killings on sovereign territories using drones defying international norms and torture its prisoners.  To stay as the moral authority of the world, U.S should live up to the ideals in which this nation was founded. Regardless of the recent reversals in his policy, In Obama, I still see that as a possibility! 

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Elections in India

I have been extremely happy with the Indian election results, not because I think Congress isn't corrupt, nor is it because i like signorina Sonia pulling strings from inside her mansion and thus paving way to another generation of Gandhis. And it certainly has nothing to do with our prime minister who giggles like a school girl - i was embarrassed to hear that he asked for an autograph from Obama for his niece when they met up in Washington.

My rejoice has only to do with the fact that the B.J.P and its cohorts have been shown the door. After 60 years of independence, it looks like we are finally approaching a level of maturity and stability in the electorate. The sinister plans that got BJP its national face for the first time in 90s are not working anymore. The political left's unrelenting in fighting and the age old theatrics of cold war politics will not fly anymore. The progress and prosperity come with maturity; no matter what ideological base you belong to, elections are about compromises and taking the middle road at times even when that is not the right thing to do. In that sense, the far right and the far left have to emerge with a new plan. May be we will see a two party system emerging in India too; while I am dismayed by it in the U.S, it gives an unparallel stability that is much needed for economic prosperity. I believe, the way for the Left in India is to emerge as a political power house that distances itself from the failed ideologies of communism, but focuss on the development that is sustainable and in line with the environment. As for the Right, I'd much prefer that they just disappear from the political arena and move back to the temple grounds.

Saturday, May 02, 2009

Bicycle Thief


Poverty and misery in post world war Europe wasn't much different from that of the third world countries today. A man would do anything to keep a job. Bicycle Thief tells the simple story of one such man, the desperate struggle to keep the only job he ever had. Without giving away much of the plot, it makes you think to what extent would you go when you are desperate, when you are unable to go back to a family that depends on your job to keep food on the table.  The irony and sadness of human existence is that we often end up what we seek to destroy. A Netflix must watch!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Do not move on

Obama, you can't have it both ways - you released the documents detailing the brutal interrogation methods used by the Bush administration, for which, I applaud you. But, your moveon.org doesn't impress me. It is an injustice to the victims, injustice to the numerous men and women who were asked to do the dirty work and serious blow to the moral standing of the United States in the world. 

Sunday, March 22, 2009

The Painter of Battles


Arturo Perez-Reverte's 'The Painter of Battles' was an accidental find in the crowded airport of Puerto Vallarta on our way back from a vacation. I was looking to find a work from a spanish writer to top off the wonderful time we had in Mexico and this book instantly grabbed my attention.

Arturo is a prolific writer and his work is a reflection on his own years spent reporting wars in various parts of the world. A war photographer is often a witness to the history before it is told and retold, bent and distorted, massaged and manipulated for popular consumption. The story starts at the solitary home of the war photographer in some spanish coastal town; he spends his time painting a mural and swimming in the ocean until the day a man comes looking for him. The visitor had known the painter intimately, studied his works and had a reason to visit him - he wanted to kill the painter for what one of his war photos had done to his life. A deep and enthralling voyage begins down the memory lane sprinkled with his interpretations of the works of the Spanish master painters and his own experiences of photographing the vicious acts of humankind. May be the middle of the book got a bit of long winding and the end may not have been the exact climax you were looking for, but the book captures the loneliness of the souls who share the longing for a peaceful world. It gazes the chaotic world and find the resolutions to the conflicts as the ultimate failure of human imagination. At times it even finds wars to be the natural state of human beings.

This book will remain in my mind as a fine rendition of the front lines of war, much like Sebastiapol. It reiterates my own impressions on the wars we fight every day - what we often miss out when we only see the war between good and evil is that on the battlefields there is only evil.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Assorted paintings

House in the woods,
Oil, 2008

Based on a photograph

Santa Fe Trail, 
Oil, 2008.

Inspired by a painting from an art book, but turned out to be quite different. 

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Open Door to what?

I got Tom Frieman's article from New York Times forwarded to me from multiple sources yesterday. It is definitely pleasing for desis to see a prominent american columnist advocating for wider immigration when in fact that immigrants are probably the first ones to bear the brunt of lost jobs and an economy in peril - no wonder the brown blog, Sepia Mutiny had all praises for it. But is there any substance to his assertions? 
“If you do this, it will be one of the best things for India and one of the worst for Americans, [because] Indians will be forced to innovate at home,” said Subhash B. Dhar, a member of the executive council that runs Infosys, the well-known Indian technology company that sends Indian workers to the U.S. to support a wide range of firms. 
Really? I wonder why Indians are so hell-bent on pushing for this, if indeed this is good for India. Tom Friedman definitely got his head spinning seeing the Infosys campus in Bangalore, but the reality is that in this economic climate, there aren't enough jobs to give to the new immigrants. So the 2 million plus immigrants should stay on welfare? 
 “We will buy up all the subprime homes. We will work 18 hours a day to pay for them. We will immediately improve your savings rate — no Indian bank today has more than 2 percent nonperforming loans because not paying your mortgage is considered shameful here. And we will start new companies to create our own jobs and jobs for more Americans.”
Yes, fresh off the boat, they will buy the properties here. Frieman should really find out about the H1B life cycle. Buying a home is neither a priority nor affordable for a temporary worker. 
I would have loved to have seen the stimulus package include a government-funded venture capital bank to help finance all the start-ups that are clearly not starting up today
Here, again, he is exposing his ignorance on how startups in silicon valley work. Money isn't the major ingredient for the startup to succeed. Often startups are started in tens of millions of dollars and sometimes even less. The passion for innovation coupled with a very tight and prudent management is what makes some of these startups successful - the success ratio even then is really small. If the government manages it, the success ratio will be even far less - I am no fan of Milton Friedman's economic theories, as a matter of fact, in light of the recent events, his ideas would be deemed unfit, but one thing he got right was that if people knew the government was behind certain initiatives, they would shift their behavior. A startup in its very essence gives value to innovation, speed, operational efficiency, and lack of red tape - every single of these is an issue with government managed programs.

The height of stupidity was when he quoted someone saying this.
He also cited a recent study by William R. Kerr of Harvard Business School and William F. Lincoln of the University of Michigan that “found that in periods when H-1B visa numbers went down, so did patent applications filed by immigrants [in the U.S.]. And when H-1B visa numbers went up, patent applications followed suit.”
Yes, when there are more immigrants, the patents filed by immigrants are more. That is genius!

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Spending during Recession

What is one supposed to do in an economic downturn like the one we are experiencing now? With the people I speak to, I often seen the wide range of ideas from hiding the real money under the mattress to spend to boost the economy. The truth must be somewhere in the middle.

Today was a gloomy day around where I live. For the last few weeks, the weather was exceptionally warm and it was beginning to look like the winter was behind us, but that changed all of a sudden in typical california style. To get over the gloominess and to get my 4 year old S off my back, we set off to the near-by mall. I am not much of a shopper - my shopping normally revolves around thinking about buying something, rushing to the store, picking it up and never returning it even if it doesn't fit my needs well. So this time around, I had nothing to buy - S and I were just walking around.

With all the recession talk 24/7, I imagined a deserted parking lot, empty cashier lines and a far thinner crowd. But, was I wrong or what? The Macy's still had enough customers, Starbucks had a line that was spilling into the street, the counter bar in the restaurant was still milling with people. This may completely be a coincidence after all, but really the people are not reducing their spending yet? So, I looked around to see what the official statistics on consumer spending was - the consumer spending rose only 3.6% in all of 2008, the worst since 1961. Clearly, the spending habits have changed and I hope what I saw wasn't people spending away their severance payments! Sometimes when the disaster strikes, people's tendency is to pretend like nothing ever happened. Given nobody knows how long this one is going to last, that may not be a sound strategy at all.

Where does $800 billion go?

NYTimes has described the republicans as the milling crowd in front of a building on fire who won't let fire fighters in to fight the fire - this is exactly how I feel about the republicans - the bickering and the nit-picking of these supposedly 'patriotic' folks put the politicians in India look much more sophisticated. But, really, the calm and cool Obama himself has lashed out against these folks on a series of interviews last week.

This stimulus is much needed and most economists are wondering whether this is big enough - would a bunch of construction projects alone save this economy from collapsing? Japan who has been in recession since the 90s spent trillions of dollars in construction projects, every road, and every bridge that was ever dreamed of was built - but it still did not yield the results they expected. Why? Looking back, the economists are saying that the spending focussed too much on construction. There is a lesson to be learnt there. If you take a careful look at the 800 Billion dollar bill, while the republican nut jobs continue the theatrical protests, I am afraid that the part of the spending that republicans are bitching about is exactly what I think is too small. Frankly I don't care about the tax cuts - it hasn't worked in the past, it will not work in the future either - an example of a republican ideal that has been carried over for years with no single example to show for its validity.

Here is the 'wasteful' spending. Judge for yourself - where do you not want to spend?

  • Educational Investments ($141.6 billion):
  • Tax cuts (275 billion)
  • Health care investments ($112.1 billion):
  • Welfare/unemployment ($102 billion):
  • Infrastructure investments ($90 billion):
  • Energy investments ($58 billion):
  • Telecommunications investments
    • $650 million for Digital TV-to-analog converter box coupons and Digital TV education.
    • $350 million for a broadband data collection effort to allow states to track--and specifically, map--the availability of broadband access
    • $2.85 billion to implement a wireless and broadband deployment grants program, with $1 billion of that set going to wireless.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Voice of new America

President Obama's interview with Al-Arabiya is diplomacy at its finest. His first interview after becoming the president is mostly a rehash of what he has been saying all along, but well thought out and delivered.


As John Stewart pointed out, this part is not something he has mentioned ever in American interviews though.
I have Muslim members of my family. I have lived in Muslim countries.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

One state with equal rights

Al-Jazeera may be Arab world's fox news. But, this article in the aftermath of the recent Israeli invasion of Gaza strip speaks about a rather interesting solution to the Israel-Palestinian issue.

Also for those who wonder where is Hamas's place among the people of Palestine, this might give a clue.
Hamas's lack of creativity should not have decisively shaped the broader context of Palestinian politics, as polls rarely showed its popularity exceeding 20 per cent.

However, by 2002, with negotiations nowhere in sight, whole regions of cities such as Nablus and Jenin destroyed, and Israel sewing chaos across the West Bank and in so doing destroying the basic foundations of PA rule, Hamas's power was rising quickly.
Looking back at 60 years of failed policies, broken promises and violence from both sides, Mark LeVine's road to peace is an interesting proposition.

The futility of violence as a strategy to achieve either society's core objectives has never been so clearly on display, as has the bankruptcy of a two-state solution that was likely miscarried at the very inception of the peace process a decade and a half ago.

It is not likely that Israel will emerge from this tragedy ready to offer Palestinians a territorially viable Palestinian state. 


However, it seems more likely that the two-state solution will remain as illusive in the near future as it has in the past.

In such a situation Palestinians face a choice: continue to play by Israel's rules and see their dreams of independence disappear for at least another generation, or change the rules by demanding the same rights enjoyed by Israelis over the entirety of historic Palestine. 

By taking heed of Olmert's warning, Palestinians can begin the journey towards a future in which Jews and Palestinians can share the land of historical Palestine/Eretz Yisrael for the benefit of both peoples, rather than at the expense of the other.
On the outset, this is a solution that makes most sense from a rational standpoint and have parallels to the South Africa anti-apartheid movement. But I don't think either party, Israel or Hamas would like to see this happen. For Israel, this changes the demographics significantly - add 2-3 million to the existing <1million>

My best bet is still a two state solution which guarantees a sovereign state for Palestinians, not the kind with locked down borders and airspace, but a real country with control over its borders and natural resources.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

War Machines of 21st century

Wired War isn't a page from a science fiction. It is a fascinating but chilling story on the evolution of warfare. NPR has an interview with the author of this book, P.W. Singer.

With the ease of playing a computer game, the designated 'soldiers' work out of their offices in California and Arizona to fly the unmanned drones over the desired targets half way across the world and they kill. The precision of their attacks and the legality of these operations are unknown. Detached from the battlegrounds, these 'soldiers', after their regular killings, go back to their homes and have dinner with their family. Some might argue that this is the natural evolution of war, but to me this is morally reprehensible. And if you think this is something of a prototype that has limited use, there are 5000+ of these in use. This is one way to reduce the American casualties, especially if you are not counting the deaths on the other side.

Listen to this transcript.

Monday, January 19, 2009

The end of the massacre, for now.

The war in Gaza has ended apparently, hundreds dead, thousands homeless and Israelis retreat in time for the celebration of Obama's presidential ball. The heart breaking stories such as this continue to flow from Gaza, while an apathetic world watches on. Reports from various sources including U.N indicate that there have been wide use of weapons with Depleted Uranium and White Phosphorus. These are war crimes, but then again, this is not the first time Israel has been involved in killing civilians - Shabra and Shatila, Qana, Jenin to name a few. In the U.S too, there is mounting evidence that Bush's administration committed war crimes, but no one will prosecute them either. War crimes are only crimes if they are committed by the losers of the war.

In the larger context, people will forget this invasion too, especially in the U.S. The euphoria around the new president will invariably mask the unspeakable horrors of this illegal invasion. While the Gazans patch up what is left of their lives and loved ones, the rest of the world can look away -

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Gaza burning

There is no surprise here.

The United States late Saturday blocked approval of a U.N. Security Council statement calling for an immediate cease-fire in the Gaza Strip and southern Israel and expressing concern at the escalation of violence between Israel and Hamas.

The ground invasion has begun and the blood continues to flow in Gaza. A million plus people are held hostage. If past such incursions are any indication, the carnage would be catastrophic. The blogs from Palestine are a good window to what is going on there, of course only until they are cut off.

This is a feed aggregation on several palestinian blogs.


Here is a more heart breaking report from Gaza.


Friday, January 02, 2009

Destruction and Creation

Bombs continue to pour down on Gaza. Fine, Hamas isn't a saint, but Israel's actions have always been wildly disproportionate. Locking down a region of 1.5 million people, ruthless bombing knowing very well that innocents will be killed, erasing mosques and homes and depriving a population of their lives and livelihood, wouldn't that count as terrorism?

As Robert Fisk put it

And always Mr Bush Snr or Mr Clinton or Mr Bush Jnr or Mr Blair or Mr Brown have called upon both sides to exercise "restraint" – as if the Palestinians and the Israelis both have F-18s and Merkava tanks and field artillery. Hamas's home-made rockets have killed just 20 Israelis in eight years, but a day-long blitz by Israeli aircraft that kills almost 300 Palestinians is just par for the course.

But of course, this is not any different from any of the earlier incursions by Israel. This time too they may be able to kill a few Hamas operatives; but they have already created another generation of suicide bombers in the process.