Tuesday, 10 February 2015

Netanyahu Must Stay the Course

It can't be easy being Israeli Prime Minister Binyanmin Netanyahu, or Bibi, as many Israelis including myself like to call him.  Nowadays, it seems like Bibi is everyone's favourite whipping boy.  But even with all the hatred directed towards him, the worst thing that Netanyahu can do now is cave in to it.  And if I know anything about the man, he is not one to cave in, whether the pressure to do so comes from at home or abroad.  He is a straight talker that pulls no punches and tells it like it is.  So if all you Bibi-haters want to accuse him of being a fear-monger or a harbinger of doom and gloom, then go right ahead, because it's not going to stop him from telling everyone what reality is and what it will be if leaders make the wrong decisions.

Many of the latest salvos against Prime Minister Netanyahu have to do with his plans to address the American Congress in the coming weeks.  Yes, everybody's upset because Bibi seems to be thumbing his nose at the world's best Neville Chamberlain impersonator, namely U.S. President Barack Obama.  The fact of the matter is that Bibi has tried again and again to convince Obama that playing nice with dictators and terrorists just doesn't work.  But unfortunately, the American President still refuses to heed the wise words of the Israeli Prime Minister and continues to live in a dream world where evil does not exist.  Personally, I think Obama is no more than a preacher on one of those Sunday televangelist shows.  Do you know what I and many other people do whenever we see one of these preachers on our TV screens?  We change the channel so we don't have to hear any more of their BS - and this is exactly how Prime Minister Netanyahu deals with President Obama.  He just tunes him out.  He also knows that there are plenty of other politicians in Washington who are more in touch with reality and who are willing to listen to what he has to say, hence his decision to address the Congress.  So why waste time trying to placate a preacher who pretends to be a president?

If I had the opportunity to tell Prime Minister Netanyahu how I think he should proceed during these difficult times, I would say the following: Mr. Prime Minister, many people don't like what you say or do, but history will prove you were right.  Stay the course.

Tuesday, 3 February 2015

NATO Finally Considers Sending Arms to Ukraine. Too Little, Too Late

So apparently after Putin the Terrible gobbled up Crimea and then moved to take over eastern Ukraine, the illustrious members of NATO are finally considering assisting the Ukrainians militarily by sending them arms that they can use to fight back against the Russian tyrant and his allies.  Maybe they've finally figured out that it will take the force of arms to stand up to the man who fancies himself as the leader of a new Russian empire.  Uh, ya' think?  Too bad they didn't clue in a lot earlier, because now I think it may be too little too late.

When are the democracies that comprise NATO going to learn?  The only thing that can stop a power-hungry dictator like Russia's Vladimir Putin is force.  Not halfhearted condemnations, not economic sanctions, but pure brute force.  So trying to deal with Putin the same way Neville Chamberlain dealt with Hitler is just not going to work.  If NATO members had learned from history, they probably would have placed their troops in Ukraine long ago to prevent any further land grabs by Putin.  But instead, they decided to let the Ukrainians fend for themselves, offering them only "non-lethal" aid. 

So why are NATO and the West being too soft on Putin?  There are several reasons, but perhaps the biggest stumbling block is the failure of the U.S. under President Barack Obama to reassert its leadership of the free world.  President Obama might as well be the reincarnation of Britain's Neville Chamberlain, because he thinks in the same naive way that the late British prime minister did.  I can't believe I'm saying this, but I kind of miss President George W. Bush, because although I strongly disagreed with his decision to invade Iraq, I can say almost for certain that if he was still in power instead of Obama, both Crimea and eastern Ukraine would still be entirely in Ukrainian hands today.
But alas, the reality is that Obama, not George W. Bush, is the U.S. president and that's highly unlikely to change until the next presidential elections, due to take place late next year.  I can only hope that by then, Americans will choose to put someone in the White House that is more Winston Churchill than Neville Chamberlain.

In the meantime, Obama and the rest of the NATO bunch are still twiddling their fingers and debating whether or not to support Ukraine militarily.  But as I already said, even if they do decide to send arms to the Ukrainians, it won't make the situation any better.  In fact, it might make it even worse because Putin may preempt NATO's export of arms to Ukraine by launching a full scale invasion of the country, rather than just continuing with his current strategy of gradually sending Russian forces into Ukraine to support the pro-Russian terrorists. 

So if sending arms to Ukraine isn't the answer, what is?  To put it simply, only the presence of NATO troops' boots on the ground will halt the advance of Putin's gradual invasion.  The fact of the matter is that Putin is not yet ready for a conflict with the West.  He still needs time to build his military forces and solidify alliances with countries like China and Iran, which will be his allies for the foreseeable future.  Placing NATO troops in Ukraine will ensure that any future conflict with Russia happens closer to its borders than Putin would like.  Failing to do this, however, will probably mean that if and when a conflict between the West and Russia does ensue, Putin's forces will be on NATO's doorstep; on the doorstep of the free world, from where they can advance into most of Europe within a space of hours.

Sunday, 1 February 2015

The Rise of Mixed Martial Arts...And the Fall of Decency

How do I know that society is going down hill?  Increasing crime, growing poverty?  These are a couple of good indicators.  But here's another more unorthodox one: for the last decade and a half or so, one of the fastest growing sports in the world has been something called mixed martial arts, or MMA for short.  Okay, so what does MMA have to do with measuring the decline of society?  Well let me put it this way: when the one of the world's fastest growing sports is one where two individuals beat the living crap out of each other for people's entertainment, I think society is in big trouble.  Now I know some of you reading this will want to tell me that there's plenty of violence in sports nowadays and MMA is no worse than football, hockey or boxing.  To those of you who do make this argument, my answer is simple: MMA, unlike football or hockey, is dependent on its participants beating each other up and inflicting as much pain as is necessary to win.  In MMA, violence isn't just part of the sport.  It is the sport.  Now of course, the same can be said about boxing and other martial arts-related competitions.  But MMA is the worse than any of these sports because it's essentially a combination of all forms of unarmed combat into one - everything from boxing to muay thai to jiu-jitsu - basically, anything that you can do to hurt someone.  But now that MMA has become so popular, it's not simply a negative reflection of society.  It's a threat to moral decency.

The so-called sport of MMA sets a bad example for everyone.  It sends a message that violence for the sake of violence is okay; that fighting is fun; that it's great to jump for joy when someone gets knocked out.  Actually, MMA fighters are sometimes paid extra if they knock their opponents out.  Pretty disgusting, isn't it.  And yet, more and more people now consider MMA to be a legitimate sport on the same level as hockey or basketball.  Here in Canada, for example, Rogers Sportsnet, one of the country's leading sports networks, selected Georges St. Pierre, one of the most well-known MMA fighters, as Canadian athlete of the year for three years in a row, from 2008 to 2010.  I'm sorry, but in my opinion, a person who makes a living beating people up and taking beatings himself is not worthy of such a distinction.  It's not that I think Mr. St. Pierre, or GSP as he is popularly known, is a bad person.  In fact, I would argue that most of the well-known MMA fighters are not bad people at all.  They're certainly not the mindless barbarians that MMA makes them look like.  Before they became involved in MMA, some of today's most popular fighters did great things.  I still remember hearing about one fighter who used to be a math teacher.  I think we can all agree that teaching is a very noble profession.  Another well-known fighter, Ronda Rousey, who is now arguably the most recognized face of women's MMA, became the first American woman to win an Olympic medal in judo back in the 2008 games.  But unfortunately, both the former Olympian and the former math teacher, who once did noble deeds, eventually turned to the dark side, so to speak, just like many others who are now MMA fighters.  What I'm basically trying to demonstrate is that MMA has become a way of turning good people bad.  And if this is the case, imagine what it can do to some of the most vulnerable people in our society - our young.

Yes, MMA is for the most part adult entertainment.  But I've begun to notice its popularity creeping into the younger demographic of people under 18.  So just imagine how I felt when I heard a school here in Canada was going to invite MMA fighters to talk to kids about bullying.  When I heard about this on the radio just a couple of years ago, I was shocked and dismayed to say the least.  I can also remember how one person on the same radio show said that having MMA fighters talk to kids about bullying is like having strippers talk to kids about body image.  Whoever this person was, I agree with them 100%.  It's bad enough that adults are being corrupted by the likes of MMA, but now we have to worry about our children being exposed to it.  I cringe at the idea of any child of mine wanting to be the next Georges St. Pierre.  Actually, I don't have a child, but if I did, my advice to him or her would be, if you want to fight, go fight for king and country, not pride and a paycheck.