Sunday, March 20, 2011 | Categories: Episodes
On Cross Country Checkup: Two topics - Libya and Japan
The UN has moved to help Libyan rebels falling under the shadow of Gadhafi's guns. What do you think?
And, how can the world help the Japanese fight a series of disasters that would stagger most nations?
With host Rex Murphy.
Japan, is the world responding well to the disaster?
And, Libya, will the UN no-fly work?
Today we want to talk about two topics: Japan and Libya. It has been a very busy week for news ...that's why we are making space in the program for both topics.
The world watched and pitched-in as Japan struggled to recover from a string of disasters ...earthquake, tsunami, and a damaged nuclear plant. After a week, the story was eclipsed in the news last Thursday by a surprise UN resolution authorizing the use of international military force on Libya ....to protect civillians from attack by their own leader Muommar Gadhafi.
The story out of Japan is still one of great misery, uncertainty about the number of casualties, and the ongoing treatment of problems with the nuclear plants ....these latter appear to be in a situation somewhat improved since the beginning of the week.
Today for the first half of our program we'd like to canvas again your thoughts and feelings on Japan. The disaster is so huge we feel it is necessary to deal with it - at least for half today's show - when we will change to discuss the military action being undertaken against Libyan Muommar Gadhafi.
In Japan we are only now, I think, starting a real focus on the human damage the earthquake and tsunami has caused -- there are still thousands missing; it is not clear how relief efforts are going - naturally at a time like this reporting is incomplete.
We'd like to hear your thoughts on the disaster in Japan. "Is the world responding well to the disaster?"
That's all the time we have today to talk about the relief effort in Japan. We now turn our attention to the other big news story that broke late Thursday when the UN Security Council voted to authorize the use of force to protect Libyan civillians under attack by their own leader Moammar Gadhafi.
After moving from one side of the argument to the other, America, Britian, France, Canada ..... agreed under UN sanction to put in effect a "no fly zone" over Libya - for the protection of civilians.
Yesterday barrages of tomahawk missiles hit Libyan air defences ... and there are further operations today. There are intense pledges that this will be a short campaign --- days not weeks - that there will be "no boots on the ground." and that it has been undertaken only reluctantly and as a last resort.
The effort is criticized on one side for being so late --- a no fly zone would have had real effect two or three weeks ago.... since then Gadhafi has had time and supplies to hit back at the "rebels' in three cities and advance his control over the country. And then, while every allied leader speaks of the need for Gadhafi to leave - none has stated that as a condition of the military intervention.
What's the goal of the Libyan mission? Why was it taken up when it was - so late? Can it be faithful to Obama's pledge of days not weeks and no boots on the ground?
Our question for this part of the program: "What's your reaction to the UN plan to protect Libyan civilians?
I'm Rex Murphy ...on CBC Radio One ...and on Sirius satellite radio channel 137 ...this is Cross Country Checkup.
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Globe and Mail
When we watch the TV news or listen to radio reports we feel great compassion for what is happening in Japan and for the plight of all those caught up in the disaster.
However, we are more than a little put off by the indignant attitude of those Canadians who are demanding that Canada do more to rescue them. In most cases, those awaiting rescue by the Canadian taxpayer have chosen to work away from Canada. Also, for those who are working outside of Canada for long periods of time, are often paying little if anything in the way of income tax back to our country. Yet as soon as conditions in another country become dangerous, they yell loud and often for the Canadian Government to come and bring them out.
We are growing weary of the excessive amounts of media airtime given to the plight of those Canadians who have traveled abroad for vacations or profit and expect other Canadians to bail them out when things go bad. Feel even more frustrated when those working abroad say as soon as things calm down they plan on going back!
George & Salli Rice
Hope, British Columbia
I grew up in Japan and my family are still there. My father and little brother are in Tokyo and I am worried about the radiation. With the radiation, it is hard for anyone to go into the area to try to help those who have no food, no water, no power, and no help in the cold. In Victoria, we organized a candlelight vigil and fund raising event last night and there are fundraising events almost every day of the weekends in March and April. It would be appreciated if as many as people can participate in those events and show support. We, Japanese people, are grateful of all the help we are receiving.
Victoria, British Columbia
One thing is for sure, all the noise about Japan has almost drowned out all of that noise about New Zealand. We should not fail to remember that there are two balls in play in The Pacific.
I lived in Japan for 4 years and have many friends there. I've been trying to think about what we as Canadians can do and one idea that came to mind is to adopt one of the towns that was destroyed to help the survivors rebuild. Kind of a sister city relationship but in this case, the whole country will be behind it. Being able to see what your money has done can be a good motivator. I'm sure there must be some organization that could organize this.
Prince Edward Island
While it's nice to hear that average Canadians have donated millions of dollars, and it's nice to hear there's consideration of government (ie., taxpayer) matching of the donations, it's a drop in the bucket. There is one overwhelming issue that media and the public seems to continuously overlook.
Where are the donations from the billionaires of the world? And I'm not suggesting millions of dollars of donations, they should be giving billions. After all, much of their wealth has been gained from riding the technological wave, and from lax regulations that favour their imbalanced accumulation.
To put it into perspective, even a small fraction of the wealth of the top 20 of the world's billionaires would do a great deal to repair the property damage in this disaster. Instead, their preposterous wealth is effectively removed from the economy, and hoarded away. Even the most gluttonous lifestyle could not put a dent in that kind of wealth, yet it is the average and even poor people who donate what little they have. And there's no doubt that many of the donations are coming from average Canadians who are already in debt.
Victoria, British Columbia
I agree foreigners should evacuate. It is probably the biggest contribution we can make. The biggest problem in Japan right now is shelter. Leave and let the authorities know of the availability of your housing.
Fredericton, New Brunswick
As a former long-time resident of Japan who volunteered after the Kobe quake, I want to stress the need to support in concrete ways (funds!) the organizations and systems already in place to deal with the situation. Much was learned from the sad experience of Kobe and is presently being applied to the Tohoku earthquake/tsunami disaster (and potentially nuclear disaster). Fundraise in your local area and send the funds to the Red Cross so that they have the resources to expand the scope of their work.
In addition, there are smaller organizations that are making a significant difference on the ground and are able to respond quickly. One good example is the "Outdoor Gientai" (Outdoor Relief Team), a group of ordinary citizens and business people involved in outdoor recreation. They are working out of Sendai and have their own small logistics team and are responding to people's need in smaller centers that have not yet been reached.
Also, remember that most of the first responders working on the site are also victims - they need psychological/emotional support.
The method of funding for reconstruction must come by way of forgiving Japan's national debt or Japan will be forced to increase its huge debt by borrowing more from the IMF and World Bank. These institutions must not be allowed to exploit Japan's cataclysmic situation vis-a-vis the earthquake and tsunami and the nuclear danger. The world financial structure at this juncture of history is dependent on the power of the (private) banks to create money and credit at will, only to SELL this credit and currency to governments as debt - and they thereby have all nations in their grip. As the Right Honourable W.L. MacKenzie King, Prime Minister of Canada has said (1934): "Until the control of the issue of currency and credit is restored to government and recognized as its most conspicuous and sacred responsibility, all talk of the sovereignty of Parliament and of Democracy is idle and futile."
Vancouver, British Columbia
The Western world has no interest in helping the citizens of Libya. They've stood by and watched as thousands have been slaughtered by the weapons provided by them. Establishing a no-fly zone is a declaration of war and the Libyans who have fought so valiantly against the Khaddafi regime are now at greater risk from the missiles that are supposedly being used to cripple Khaddafi. Libya is now on its way to becoming another Iraq and the warmongers continue to profit yet again at the expense of Muslim people.
I am deeply saddened that Prime Minister Harper is using the Libyan human tragedy to rebuild his loss of international respect. Our good Canadian reputation has been seriously damaged by our present government: we have lost our seat on the UN Security Council, we have utterly failed to do the right thing regarding the environment and we still send - for votes in Quebec - cancer-causing chrysotile asbestos to developing nations, to only mention a few of our shortcomings. Now our "fearless", inhuman leader thinks he can fix all this by sending our military into harms way again.
We are a big, but in political reality a small country compared to the other big players. Why can't we just stick to what we are good at, namely humanitarian aid. I am sure the Libyan rebels would appreciate and thank us for those efforts just as much as for our few Canadian jet fighters cruising their air space.
Stephen Harper has no business involving Canada in another war. This invasion of another sovereign country's civil war by the "coalition" is an ill-disguised attempt to change the regime in Libya. Does anyone today have any doubts about the assertions of George Bush and Tony Blair's assertions of "weapons of mass destruction" in Saddam Hussein's Iraq?
The demonizing of Libya's leader as they did with Saddam Hussein is just a continuation.
Could it possibly be that this so-called 'coalition' led by the U.S. and Great Britain find yet again Libya far more attractive to interfere with than Egypt or Lebanon, etc. because of Libya's OIL supply?
Galiano Island, British Columbia
While I agree that the free world should step in to help the people of Libya get rid of Muammar Gaddafi, my cynical side asks why we didn't help those countries that don't sit on large bodies of oil. 350,000 dead in Somalia (91-99), over 100,000 thanks to Slobodan Milosevic (92-99), an estimated 917,000 alone in the Rawandan massacres and almost 2,000,000 dead in one year of fighting the Congolese civil war from 1998 to 1999. Where was the UN intervention when these atrocities were taking place? Could Prime Minister Harper be using Libya to distract the voters as we face a possible non confidence vote leading to a spring election? It worked for George Bush and George Dubai so why not in Canada?
Thunder Bay, Ontario
It is unfortunate that intervention in Libya has come this late, but it is nevertheless an important decision and I'm happy Canada is playing a role in the effort.
My only worry is that the ousting of Gaddafi is no longer possible since much of the headway made by the rebels has been reversed in the last few weeks. The ultimate outcome, I fear, will be an uneasy détente in which the Libyan people will be stuck with their dictator in Tripoli.
If the protesters at the G20 in Toronto were shot en masse rather than arrested, what would we as countrymen have done? Certainly we would have reacted in a similar way. We would have risen against our government in any way possible. If our military were to press against us with all its might, we would stand no chance and pray that our neighbors and all decent human beings around the world would stop the madness.
We don't realize what these people are putting on the line when they stand against their government. The minute Gadhafi's jets were in the air, a no fly zone should have been imposed immediately and the diplomacy should begin. Perhaps it would have been stopped before a point of no return.
The air strikes and no-fly zone may give hope to the Libyan people, at least those who actually know about them. However, Qaddafi is in control of the propaganda war, as a quick survey of the international broadcast media (including CBC) will make clear. The only images we see are those coming out of Tripoli, with Qaddafi's supporters prominently displayed. This even goes for Al-Jazeera.
More importantly, these are surely the only images the Libyan people are seeing. Could this imbalance not be redressed. Shouldn't we supply the rebels with everything they need to set up a radio and television station in Benghazzi? The US, which runs broadcast services on all its overseas bases, could load a Hercules with the necessary equipment from one day to the next. Moreover, they surely have what it takes to jam Qaddafi's broadcasts.
This would surely encourage the Libyan people as much as the air strikes, if not more. The pen is mightier than the sword and the camera shoots what a tank cannot.
I agree with the UN motion and the air strikes, something needs to be done to support the civilians. But on a higher level, we need to discuss how we approach these decisions. Regardless of if you are right or left, Canada needs to have the debate on what our future military vision is and make principled decisions based on this vision. Whether we want to be peace keepers, diplomats, humanitarians or are we going to take a more "hawk" stance - we need to define this first. Buying jets to suit one extreme will cost a significant amount of money. The tools should not define the vision, it should be vise versa. Providing diplomatic and humanitarian support is very valuable as well. We should support our troops on what ever mission our government sends them on. If you want to be critical be critical of the government, I think most people are, left or right to say other is rhetoric. This is democracy, people around the world are dying to get it, don't take it for granted. We have a strong diplomatic, humanitarian and peace keeping tradition. The UN isn't perfect, but it is the best we have. We can build on this and make it truly effective.
Riverview, New Brunswick
At this point Gaddafi has no place to go and this makes him much more dangerous to the Libyan people and the world in general.
To the people who are not in favor of getting involved, remember Rwanda, we cannot be late again.
The Libyan people have asked for this help. Their leader is a mad man, a dictator, and has threatened to annihilate his own citizens and this has been shown to be true. The world, because of technology, has heard this call for help, and the UN has responded.
Yes, it may become more complicated, but right now it is as simple as a call for help. My parents were both vets of WWII and they would have agreed, I am sure of this. War is a last resort, but if my own country were in such peril, if I were in such peril, I would fight. Otherwise I am a peacenik. This is the only reason to go to war.
Miramichi, New Brunswick