Friday, November 9, 2007

The Lack of Intellectual Honesty in Public Discourse

In yesterday's post in which I linked to the article by James Petras the point was made that US foreign policy is now held hostage to right wing Israeli (what too often is radical Zionist or what Petras terms Zion-Fascist) propaganda. The fact that not one candidate for President from either political party has dared to raise the issue indicates that it has become "radio-active." None have the moral courage or intellectual honesty to even question whether there is an unhealthy Israeli Hawk/Zioncon [lock] on American led international relations.

Mearsheimer and Walt, Tony Judt, James Petras, other academics, brave pundits and journalists have all commented extensively on the degree to which right-wing Israeli demands are enacted virtually carte-blanche by the elite American political class. Petras' assertions regarding the ZPC are difficult to refute given that a principled position can be outlined and defended demonstrating that Israeli/Zioncon influence over US foreign policy is supreme. The fact that this contrarian and politically unacceptable view is virtually never given voice in the elite media is more than suspicious. Any mention of same results in an avalanche/adhominem screed by the Zioncon's in which the "perpetrator" is labeled an antisemite. This is intellectually dishonest and morally reprehensible. Until a frank and candid national discussion can be had in which the differences between US and Israeli policy aims can be aired, this country will continue to be mired down in the Middle East and the target of Jihadi-based terrorism.

--Dr. J. P. Hubert

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

The Scourge of Poverty: Many Countries Left Behind in Economic Development

By Father John Flynn, LC

ROME, NOV. 5, 2007 ( The poorest countries need help, and the more developed countries need to come to their aid, the Vatican has been insisting of late. Almost 10 million children below 5 years of age die each year from preventable illnesses, denounced Archbishop Celestino Migliore, permanent observer of the Holy See to the United Nations.

The archbishop's Oct. 9 speech to the U.N. General Assembly examined progress toward meeting a series of targets for development, known as the Millennium Development Goals.

"The global community seems to have been losing focus on the need to ensure the right to basic health care for all," he added.

Archbishop Migliore recognized that some countries have made gains, but a number of states are trailing the rest of the developing world. He called for greater attention to these states, and the encouragement of more investment and the creation of a favorable economic and social climate, along with the establishment of peace and security and the rule of law...

The fight against poverty is a moral duty, stated Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, permanent observer of the Holy See to the Office of the United Nations and Specialized Institutions in Geneva, to a July 4 session of the U.N. Economic and Social Council.

In several regions of Africa and Asia, life expectancy is almost half of that in rich countries and illiteracy reaches high levels, he pointed out.

The improvements sought through aid and debt cancellation have not yielded all the results expected, he observed. The archbishop suggested that greater concentration on projects that will create jobs could be one way to reduce poverty. "Work is the only possibility for a community to generate its own value added that pays the way out of poverty," he said.

The Holy See, Archbishop Tomasi emphasized, has repeatedly insisted on the responsibility of poorer countries to strive for good governance and do all they can to eliminate poverty. No less vital is help by other countries that are better off. Such assistance he urged, is a grave moral responsibility.

More here.

It seems trite to state the obvious: children have no control over where and to whom they are born. A life of poverty and squalor is inherently unjust and incompatible with basic human dignity. The ancient Greek pagan philosopher's Socrates and Aristotle [and St. Thomas much later of course in harmonizing the best of Greek philosophy with Christianity] understood the need to ensure that every human being is afforded the basic goods necessary for human flourishing. This is the case of course because no one is truly self-sufficient. Human beings are fundamentally social creatures who are dependent upon one another, a reality which is too often forgotten by radical libertarians and other fiscal conservatives.

It would be impossible for anyone to amass a fortune without availing themselves of certain "goods" which they had no part in providing. One has no right to demand just treatment while meeting out injustice to others. The second principle of the Natural Law (Right Reason) requires that we treat our neighbor fairly that is, treat each individual we meet as we would wish to be treated, better; actually desire and work for what is truly best for them as St. Thomas taught on "loving our neighbor."

--Dr. J. P. Hubert

Monday, November 5, 2007

Save the planet? It's now or never, warns landmark UN report

Almost daily, growing scientific evidence is being presented which establishes --beyond reasonable doubt--that the earth is undergoing progressive global warming at least in part due to human activity. This process can legitimately be termed radical climate change which has already begun to affect many of the earth's most impoverished inhabitants in a most deliterious fashion. These include the destruction of entire economies and the forced geographic displacement of certain island and arctic peoples.

The UN Enviroment Program (UNEP) has recently published a 570 page report [GEO-4] entitled the Fourth Global Environment Outlook which outlines the extent of the problem we currently face. It is required reading for all people of good will. While many persons have yet to experience the negative consequences of radical climate change, millions at the lower rungs of the economic ladder have already done so in the form of excessive food, housing and transportation costs. If the growing problem of radical climate change is left unaddressed, more and more of the least fortunate among us will be placed in harm's way. For more on this critical issue see my 21st Century Global Challenges here.
The following is taken from a piece summarizing the UNEP detailed report.

25/10/2007 NAIROBI (AFP) - Humanity is changing Earth's climate so fast and devouring resources so voraciously that it is poised to bequeath a ravaged planet to future generations, the UN warned Thursday in its most comprehensive survey of the environment.

The fourth Global Environment Outlook (GEO-4), published by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), is compiled by 390 experts from observations, studies and data garnered over two decades.

The 570-page report -- which caps a year that saw climate change dominate the news --says world leaders must propel the environment "to the core of decision-making" to tackle a daily worsening crisis

"The need couldn't be more urgent and the time couldn't be more opportune, with our enhanced understanding of the challenges we face, to act now to safeguard our own survival and that of future generations," GEO-4 said...

"The systematic destruction of the Earth's natural and nature-based resources has reached a point where the economic viability of economies is being challenged -- and where the bill we hand on to our children may prove impossible to pay," he added.

Earth has experienced five mass extinctions in 450 million years, the latest of which occurred 65 million years ago, says GEO-4.

"A sixth major extinction is under way, this time caused by human behaviour," it says...

Climate is changing faster than at any time in the past 500,000 years.

Global average temperatures rose by 0.74 degrees Celsius (1.33 Fahrenheit) over the past century and are forecast to rise by 1.8 to four C (3.24-7.2 F) by 2100, it said, citing estimates issued this year by the 2007 Nobel Peace co-laureates, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)...

Stressing it was not seeking to present a "dark and gloomy scenario", UNEP took heart in the successes from efforts to combat ozone loss and chemical air pollution.

But it also stressed that failure to address persistent problems could undo years of hard grind.

And it noted: "Some of the progress achieved in reducing pollution in developed countries has been at the expense of the developing world, where industrial production and its impacts are now being exported."

..."For some of the persistent problems, the damage may already be irreversible," they warned.

"The only way to address these harder problems requires moving the environment from the periphery to the core of decision-making: environment for development, not development to the detriment of environment."

See complete piece here.

--Dr. J. P. Hubert