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Sunday, March 09, 2008

Morning Surprises

The morning routine in our house is a fairly predictable thing.  I wake up... get the coffee going... set out food and drink on the breakfast table... and then I call up from the bottom of the stairs for the kids to wake up and start the day.

Yonah - our youngest - is usually downstairs before I've gotten through yelling the short list of names (if he isn't already downstairs of his own volition). 

Gilad - our middle child - is a bit of a slug in the morning but has mastered the fine art of responding perfectly to repeated calls for his presence at the breakfast table, without ever coming fully awake.

Ariella - our oldest - is almost as sloth-like as Gilad in the morning, but she hasn't been able to master her brother's trick of remaining asleep while answering that she's awake.  Being the only girl on the kid's floor she often closes her bedroom door for privacy, which further frustrates attempts to wake her up from the main floor below.

This morning started like most others.  I finished brewing the coffee and was just beginning to call up to the kids when Yonah came hopping down the stairs in his rumpled pajamas, rubbing the sleep from his eyes. 

Gilad responded to his name with clear-voiced "I'm up!"... giving me every reason to believe just the opposite. 

Ariella didn't answer.  No surprise there.

After giving Yonah his good-morning hugs and kisses and getting him settled at the table, I went back to the bottom of the stairs and called up to Ari and Gili again.  Gilad repeated his standard "I'm up", which wasn't all that convincing given that it was slightly muffled by his pillow. 

And still Ariella remained unheard-from.

The next step is usually for me to actually go upstairs shouting "OK, I'm coming up there... you'd both better be out of bed!".  Gilad managed to be standing on wobbly legs next to his bed by the time I entered his room (this is another of his patented tricks and will certainly serve him well during his army service).   

However, I was surprised to see Ariella's door standing open with no sound coming from inside.  She's a sound sleeper, but she's never slept through two wake-up calls and my announcement that I was coming upstairs!

I walked into Ariella's room and my world suddenly tilted on its axis.  I was shocked to see that her bed hadn't been slept in, and she was nowhere to be found! I looked from her bed to her desk to her overflowing hamper in dumb expectation of answers... but my mind refused to work. 

As the panic began to rise in my throat I turned to ask Gilad if he'd seen his sister.  But before the words could leave my mouth I suddenly remembered.   

Zahava and I had given Ariella permission to take a 'mental health day' from school, and she had slept over at my parents apartment in Jerusalem last night (Gilad took a similar 'mental health day' last week).  Heck, I'd actually dropped Ariella off there myself... but without having had my smart pill coffee yet, it'd slipped my mind that she wouldn't be in need of a wake up call this morning.

As I stood in Ariella's messy room waiting for my heart-rate to return to normal, I couldn't help but laugh out loud at my silly forgetfulness.  I was a little self-conscious about what Gilad might think at the lunatic laughter coming from Ari's room, but really... how do you forget that your own child isn't at home in her bed?

And then it suddenly hit me that this must be exactly the kind of thing that sneaks up and clobbers unsuspecting parents who have lost children in terror attacks months, or even years, after there is nobody there to wake. 

Only without the laughter, of course. 

Posted by David Bogner on March 9, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (5) | TrackBack

Friday, March 07, 2008

Echoes of gunfire, past and present

This past Wednesday evening my parents took us out for dinner at one of our favorite restaurants; Beit Ticho (Ticho House) on HaRav Kook Street.  It was a celebratory dinner in honor of Ariella having been accepted to the prestigious Pelech High School in Jerusalem. 

After finishing the delicious meal we were getting into the car and I paused to point out a stone wall near the spot where we were parked.  The wall was pocked with dozens of bullet holes.  I'm sure a Jerusalem historian could probably say what battle was fought there... but I simply voiced my guess that it was probably from the Six Day War since the line dividing the Israeli and Jordanian forces was only a few blocks from the spot.  But in truth the bullet holes could just as easily have been from the War of Independence.  After all, Jerusalem is no stranger to the sound of gunfire.

As we pulled away from the restaurant I through for a moment about telling my parents about Rav Kook, the great man for whom the street was named.  They enjoy hearing such historical tidbits during our Jerusalem wandering, but in the end I got sidetracked by a more mundane discussion of which route would be best to take back to their apartment in the German Colony. 

By the time I heard the news last night of the terror attack on the the School that Rav Kook had founded and nurtured, I was too stuck in the present to think much about connections to the past.

During the night I woke up a few times and checked the news for updated details of the attack, and upon checking my email I found the terrible news that one of the victims of the shooting had been the 16 year old son of some friends of ours.  That by itself would have been devastating enough, but this tragedy was unimaginable. 

I have known the boy's step mother since we were both single, and we have many mutual friends.  I remember trying to comfort her in a Brooklyn hospital room many years ago as her young husband was slipping away due to medical complications in the aftermath of a traffic accident.  When he died, I couldn't imagine how this young woman would ever be able to put her life back together again. 

But somehow she did. 

When we moved to Israel, Zahava and I were delighted to find that this woman had made aliyah and was living in our community.   We frequently bumped into her on the street and often sat and 'shmoozed' with her at the local park on shabbat.  She'd married a wonderful man - a second marriage for both of them - and the family they had made for themselves was a seamless collection... some his... but all truly theirs.

The news that tragedy had visited this woman again was almost too much to imagine.  I wanted to wake Zahava to tell her, not because it couldn't wait 'til morning (bad news can always wait!), but because I didn't think I could bear the news alone.  But in the end I let her sleep.

As if sensing my lonely despair, Yonah soon padding down the stairs and joined me in my bed.  His nocturnal visits are not that unusual but in a change of roles, this time he would be comforting me. 

I lay awake for hours with Yonah sleeping next to me.  I tried to find sleep myself, but for the most part I alternated between checking the news on my laptop and covering Yonah's face with enough kisses that I would never be able to look back and regret having missed even one.  But even my small attentions to my sleeping son were bitter sweet because of the knowledge that just a few hundred yards away there was a family whose young son would never again awake.

As the time for Yonah's school bus came and went (and emails arrived with funeral details), I continued to hold his sleeping form next to me.  There will (G-d willing) always be time enough for school and play and army service and life.   But with the echoes of gunfire, past and present, ringing in our ears this morning, I'm sure many Israeli parents had trouble letting their children go.

    המקום ינחם אותך בתוך שאר אבלי ציון וירושלים

Posted by David Bogner on March 7, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (17) | TrackBack

Thursday, March 06, 2008

At least 8 dead in Jerusalem terror attack

Within the past hour a terrorist broke into the 'Merkaz` HaRav Kook' yeshiva in Jerusalem with an AK-47 assault rifle and killed at least 8 students and wounded as many as 10 others. 

According to the Jerusalem Post, when the news hit the airwaves in Gaza, people streamed out in to the streets and began firing guns into the air in celebration.  These are not human beings and are undeserving of human consideration. 

I will try to update this post as more information becomes available.

Please contribute to ZAKA or Magen David Adom. Now more than ever.

If you are in Israel, please consider giving blood.

Posted by David Bogner on March 6, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (16) | TrackBack

The best excuse

No, the dog didn't eat my post.  But instead of writing today's post this morning, I ended up (pick one):

a)  Making coffee for the family

b)  Taking Lulu outside to do her 'business'

c)  Doing both of the above (resulting in funny tasting coffee)

d) Reading the archives on my new favorite site; 'Stuff White People Like' *

Granted all of them are pretty good excuses (ok, except 'c', which is just gross), but 'd' is the best one I've got.  Go read it and you'll understand why.

* Hat tip Bayou

Posted by David Bogner on March 6, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (7) | TrackBack

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Sometimes laughter really is the best medicine

Yesterday morning I attended a conference on a topic closely related to what I do for a living.  It was informative and allowed me to mingle with colleagues from my field.  And perhaps most important, there was a very respectable spread of food laid out for the attendees to graze on before the event and during breaks.

Right off the bat I paid a token visit to the Cru de te platter for some carrot sticks and cherry tomatoes.  Being married to a clairvoyant, I've found that it pays to get some healthy food under my belt early on so Zahava isn't tempted to SMS me mid-buffet with an omniscient "are you really going to eat that?" text message.   But once I'd paid my respects to the pointy end of the food pyramid, I began fressing in earnest on warm mushroom and potato Bourekas... smoked salmon on toast... and various other yummy finger foods that aren't specified in any one diet plan that I've ever heard of.

About two thirds of the way through the conference I became aware of a small 'disturbance in the force', so to speak.  It began as a rumbling in the pit of my stomach and progressed to some uncharacteristic gassy burps and small twinges and pings from my upper GI tract.

Within fifteen minutes the speaker began fading to a droning, buzzing background noise and all I could hear was the crescendo of a gastric Philip Glass composition.  A could feel beads of perspiration breaking out on my forehead and cheeks, my lips and tongue felt slightly numb... and I suddenly began salivating like some sort of Pavlovian party trick.

I won't burden you with any further details concerning events that I'm sure most of you have experienced for yourselves at one time or another.  Suffice it to say that I missed the last hour of the conference and made more than one 'pit stop' during the drive home.

Under normal circumstances I would have passed on dinner, crawled into bed and allowed 12 - 14 hours of blessed unconsciousness to do its restorative magic on my poisoned... or, more correctly 'poisson'ed my system, since it was likely the salmon on toast that did me in. 

However, our entire family was invited out for Sheva Brachot (a festive dinner for the bride and groom during the week following their wedding) in Beit Shemesh.  So shortly after arriving home, I had to pack the family into the car and we headed out to a meal that I didn't want to even imagine, much less experience up close and personal.

When we arrived at the home of the family that was hosting the dinner party, the place was packed with extra tables and chairs to accommodate the many friends and family attending, I was pleased to see that we knew most of the people there.  At least if I got sick it would be among friends.

The father of the groom is a talented chef and has been a caterer for many years, so he had volunteered to prepare all the food for the dinner.  But even though I usually enjoy his cooking, all I could think about was how to to avoid eating without giving offense.

The first course was a hearty split pea soup that looked and smelled wonderful.  I took a few tentative spoonfuls to test the waters but almost immediately got a wire from the engine room saying that taking on more fuel would be ill-advised.

Then the entree was served; baked salmon with a mustard sauce, wrapped in a blanket of philo dough. I'm sure that if I was of sound mind and body it would have smelled and looked tantalizing.  But something about the way my olfactory system was processing the new input made me want to bolt for the bathroom.

Just as I was getting ready to make my move, Yonah came over to me and said, "Abba, can I sit in your lap so I can talk into your ear?"  No matter how many times we tell Yonah that he should really just ask 'Can I tell you a secret?' he insists on this unique request.  Maybe he's translating an expression from Hebrew... who knows?

Anyway, the last thing I wanted was to have a heavy four-year-old standing (OK, sitting) between me and a fast exit.  But before I could say no, Yonah had already climbed up into my lap.  So as the smell of baked fish and mustard wafted over me and my stomach continued to do slow flip-flops, I took Yonah's angelic face in my hands and asked "What?  What was so important that you had to 'talk into abba's ear' right this very second?"

He looked up at me, and with perfect sincerity said,"that food smells like Kaki".

Zahava, who was sitting next to me chatting with someone across the table, turned around quickly when she heard me start laughing out loud.  I couldn't help it.  Yonah had given the perfect label to what had been assaulting my senses.  It may be that to healthy grown-ups, expertly prepared salmon with mustard in a light, fluffy phylo dough is a delight for all the senses.  But to a 4 year old boy... and to a food-poisoned adult... it smelled exactly like 'kaki'.

Maybe it was having been able to finally put a name to what had been troubling me... or maybe it was simply the natural medicine of laughter.  But the result was that by the time the hot apple crumble à la mode was brought out and passed around, I was feeling up to sharing a small portion with Yonah.

Posted by David Bogner on March 5, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (13) | TrackBack

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

A halo (perhaps) in need of some tarnish

Every society needs a 'saint' or two.  But IMHO no politician - not even a murdered one - should ever be held in such high esteem that the mere mention of his flaws and mistakes becomes a sort of blasphemy.

Sadly, the late Yitzhak Rabin is a perfect example of a such a 'saint'.  He was a man who devoted his entire life to the service of the country I call home, and made incalculable contributions to the IDF and the Israeli government. 

However he was human.

As Chief of General Staff in the IDF before and during the Six Day War, he is widely credited with overseeing one of Israel's most astounding victories.  And considering that the groundwork and preparation for that war were almost certainly conducted on his watch, that credit is well deserved. 

Yet it is not widely remembered that he had a nervous breakdown in the days before the war's outbreak, and only regained his senses near the end of hostilities.  He must have been under enormous pressure at the time of his collapse, but the true mark of a great leader is that his subordinates were able to function perfectly without direct/constant oversight.  However, because Rabin has now been virtually beatified, his foibles and flaws have been largely deleted from the public consciousness.

In the years preceding his murder, Rabin fell victim to other, nearly irresistible pressures to extend an olive branch to a man who had dedicated his life's work to the destruction of Israel; Yassar Arafat. 

A confluence of unlikely bedfellows lent Rabin a clear consensus/mandate to take a leap of faith and test the uncharted waters of potential peace.  These unlikely allies in the peace movement included many older Israelis from Rabin's generation who were weary from a lifetime of war, as well as a groundswell of younger Israelis who had come of age during Israel's 'Vietnam' (the first Lebanon war) and who couldn't bear the idea that the foreseeable future held nothing but more of the same.

Again, like his flawless preparations for the Six Day War, Rabin probably deserves admiration for daring to take some extraordinary risks (in the form of the Oslo accords) on the small chance that it might finally usher in an era of peace for his battle-weary country.  But not only did he not build any checks or safeguards into Oslo, but when faced with the absolute proof of Arafat's mendaciousness, he went into a period of complete denial where he continued to guide the country toward the thundering falls over which Arafat hoped hoped to finally send the hated Zionist entity.

Since I enjoy the luxury of 20/20 hindsight, I can say without hesitation that Rabin's Oslo gamble was rash and naive.  However, at the time, though I was opposed to Oslo, I harbored a deep hope that Rabin was right and I was wrong.  After all... sometimes when navigating uncharted waters, hope is all you have to guide you.  But as soon as the Oslo war proved beyond all doubt that Arafat had never changed his spots, Rabin had an obligation to turn his ship of state around and sail it for shore.  But instead of doing this, he stubbornly held his course... in full view of the looming disaster ahead.

There are many in the right wing camp who view Rabin as a monster whose memory should be obliterated like Haman.  I think that such a view is as misguided as that held by the camp which considers him a saint.  By pretending Rabin did nothing good, the political right is guilty of collective amnesia and ingratitude since it is Rabin's early hawkishness and shining victory in the Six Day War that reunited Jerusalem and placed much of our historical land under Israeli control. 

But by placing his memory above examination or criticism, the left is equally guilty of willingly depriving future generations of the ability to learn from his mistakes.

Back in 1995, Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin stood up and stated:

"We're familiar with the Likud's horror stories. They promised us Katyushas from Gaza, but Gaza has been under the primary control of the Palestinian Authority for more than a year now, and there hasn't been a single Katyusha."

[You can listen to the speech here (thanks Dave)]

I promise you that this post isn't about saying 'I told you so'.  There is nothing to be gained by scoring cheap points.  It is about removing the taboo from criticizing 'saint Rabin'.  It's about allowing Israelis to continue to venerate the country's founding fathers (and mothers) for their contributions and sacrifices.  But at the same time, Israeli schoolchildren - and their parents - need to be allowed to recognize that these people weren't infallible saints.  We need to be allowed to learn as much from Rabin's failures as from his achievements. 

Posted by David Bogner on March 4, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (15) | TrackBack

And the winner is...

Here was yesterday's math challenge:

Create a formula and/or graph to describe the value/percentage by which a puppy's cuteness diminishes for each day it stubbornly resists all attempts to housebreak it.  Ideally the formula/graph should indicate the point of diminishing returns at which the puppy is 'sent off to live on a farm upstate' (a lie we tell the kids euphemism for being fed to the town's feral cats).  Oh yeah... extra credit for factoring in a randomly occurring event which can be labeled 'puppy eats own poop' (PEOP). 

The winning submission - and any interesting runners up - will be posted here.   Please show your work.

The runner up answer was provided by 'ShrinkWrapped' who offered the following:

Obviously the best fit formula is C^2 / #I = L (Cuteness squared divided by the number of incidents equals the length of stay in the home.) Since some dogs (our yellow lab, now 2 years old) have cuteness quotients approaching infinity, once you square it, it becomes almost impossible for them to be dispatched, especially once you factor in the effect of having children. Keep in mind having children in the house changes the C^2 to C^3, so forget it.

The winning answer (which unlike shrinkwrapped's response which only made me feel sleepy, actually made my head hurt as if I was doing detention for my old algebra teacher) was provided by Wry Mouth:

(these are obviously simplified for public consumption and therefore result in estimates. Note also that there are different models for parents v. children):


C(d) = 100 - (d/7)^2

Note that the term "(d/7) squared" predicts the dog will have 0% cuteness after 70 days, or 10 weeks. Where the dog engages in poo-eating (p), the Special Model predicts:

C(d) = 100 - (d/7)^2 - p^2 , which predicts a steep drop as poo-eating is observed more than 2 or 3 times.


CHILD MODEL FOR etc., etc.:

C(d) = 100 (constant function)

Well done everyone!

Posted by David Bogner on March 4, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Monday, March 03, 2008

Misc. Monday (something for everybody!)

Too many things on my mind for a cohesive post this morning... just bits and pieces that are circling the drain:

1.  To everyone who has commented over the past few days... please accept my apologies for my silence.  I have been crazy busy with family, friends and work.  I have now gone back and responded to your wonderful comments.

2.  I find it interesting that Public Security Minister Avi Dichter suddenly found his voice (and even a fair amount of outrage) only after Ketyushas began exploding near his home in Ashkelon.  [sigh] Yet another self-interested, principle-less Kadima hack who lacks a shred of accountability to anyone... except to himself.  Where has this 'Public Security Minister's' outrage been for the last few years as Sderot has been literally pounded into submission by literally thousands of rockets???

3.  And while were on the subject of Ashkelon being bombarded by dozens of powerful Ketyushas over the past week... now that Shimon Peres is supposed to be 'above' partisan politics (and virtually immune from political reprisals), is it too much to hope that our President might finally come forward and, in an uncharacteristic act of contrition, apologize to the political right for suggesting that pre-disengagement warnings of Ketyushas falling on Ashkelon were nothing more than "Likud scare-mongering".  I'm not asking for him to resign or face charges.  I'm not even asking him to say that the disengagement was entirely wrong.  I'd just like to see the top person in Israel's political hierarchy set a personal example and say that, in retrospect, he was wrong to have ridiculed what turned out to be justified warnings about the security concerns associated with a headlong, uncoordinated exit from Gaza.  Is that too much to ask? Am I being totally naive to expect our leaders to take ownership of their words once in awhile??? 

4. My parents attended a lecture in Jerusalem the other day.  The speaker (not surprisingly) touched on the current 'situation'.  At one point a woman in the audience stood up and said [I'm paraphrasing from my recollection of what my father related]; "Hamas has publicly asked Israel for a cease fire... so why hasn't Israel accepted?  Do we want peace or do we want to keep on fighting?"   Several people tried to shout her down but the speaker held up his hands and said that he wanted to respond.  He said, "First of all, there are several words for 'peace' in Arabic... but Hamas isn't using any of them.  What they are asking for is a temporary cessation of hostilities which is entirely in their interest and doesn't serve Israel's interests in the slightest.  I think I speak for the government of Israel when I say that the instant Hamas stops firing rockets into Israel there will be an immediate cease fire."   This is fairly obvious to me... so why doesn't anyone outside of Israel seem to understand this??? 

[Update:  Hours after Israel completed what it termed 'the first stage of operation Hot Winter' and withdrew its troops from Gaza, Hamas issued a statement saying that "Israel's defeated soldiers have retreated from Gaza".  So, besides my initial urge to want to squeeze the Hamas spokesman's head like a grape, I have to wonder why it is that whenever we stop shooting at these scumbags they inevitably declare victory?  Perhaps the lesson we need to take from this is to keep shooting until they surrender... or until there is nobody left to shoot.]

5. In my younger days I used to work two, three or sometimes even four nights a week as a professional musician.  Mind you, this was after putting in a full day of work at my 'day job'.  Many times we would finish playing well after midnight and then head over to one of the shwarma joints in Brooklyn (remember Steakiat Dizengoff near the old Aperion?) and eat copious amounts of  grilled meat and fresh baked pita until 2 or 3 in the morning!  And then I'd go home, sleep for a couple of hours and get up for work the next morning to do it all over again!!!  Last night I went out with an old musician buddy of mine who is visiting from the states.  We arrived at my favorite Jerusalem grill joint (Sima's on Agrippas) around 11:00PM and I didn't climb into bed until well after 1AM (relatively early by my musician-days standards).  I woke up this morning with what felt like a lump of lead in my stomach and the vague sense that someone had been beating me with a heavy stick all night.  In the immortal words of Sgt. Roger Murtaugh (played by Danny Glover in 'Lethal Weapon'); "I'm gettin' too old for this sh*t!"

6.  I would like to invite any of the budding mathematicians out there to create a formula and/or graph to describe the value/percentage by which a puppy's cuteness diminishes for each day it stubbornly resists all attempts to housebreak it.  Ideally the formula/graph should indicate the point of diminishing returns at which the puppy is 'sent off to live on a farm upstate' (a lie we tell the kids euphemism for being fed to the town's feral cats).  Oh yeah... extra credit for factoring in a randomly occurring event which can be labeled 'puppy eats own poop' (PEOP).  The winning submission - and any interesting runners up - will be posted here.   Please show your work.

Posted by David Bogner on March 3, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (26) | TrackBack

Sunday, March 02, 2008

What can you do in 15 seconds?

[Warning:  You may never look at pouring a glass of beer, brushing your teeth or going to the loo quite the same way again]

This film is already dated since it refers only to Sderot... but it is equally applicable to any of Israel's communities that are now within rocket range of our enemies.

Hat tip to Avi (A.K.A 'British Academic')

Posted by David Bogner on March 2, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack

As useful as teats on a boar hog

The title of today's post, (along with its folksy cousin; "As useful as a milk bucket under a bull"), are both excellent examples of statements intended to convey the same meaning; complete and utter uselessness.   

Therefore, it would be an obtuse observer that didn't know already that this post is about the UN. 

But don't click way yet... this isn't a typical anti-UN tirade bemoaning the organization's blatant anti-Israel agenda. 

It isn't about the fact that the UN security council hasn't been able to find time on its schedule for years to deal with the relentless rocket attacks (and other assaults) on Israeli civilian communities/sovereignty... yet they were able to convene an emergency session on a Saturday night in order to roundly condemn Israel's [long-overdue] "disproportionate" reaction!

No, this is about something much more basic.  I contend that the UN is utterly and hopelessly useless and in fact is completely redundant, having almost perfectly duplicated the role and mission of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM)

Not familiar with NAM?  Don't feel bad.  If you live in the West and were born after the early 1960's, the mention of this organization probably conjures no more than a vague mental image of people in Nehru jackets, Dashikis, Jallabas and various other National Geographic-worthy attire/head-wear. 

So just to make sure we're all on the same page before we move on, here are the salient facts about NAM:

[Dark blue countries are members of NAM.  Light blue countries have observer status]

The Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) is an international organization of states considering themselves not formally aligned with or against any major power bloc. It was founded in the 1950s; and as of 2007 it has 118 members.

The purpose of the organization as stated in the Havana Declaration of 1979 is to ensure "the national independence, sovereignty, territorial integrity and security of non-aligned countries" in their "struggle against imperialism, colonialism, neo-colonialism, racism, Zionism, and all forms of foreign aggression, occupation, domination, interference or hegemony as well as against great power and bloc politics."

The NAM represents nearly two-thirds of the United Nations' members and comprises 55 percent of the world population.

Obviously, as one reads through this working definition of NAM it becomes painfully obvious (see words in red) that Israel would be virtually a permanent focus of their stated agenda. But even more troubling,if one looks only at the issues driving the overwhelming majority of the UN's motions and resolutions, it becomes fairly obvious that NAMs agenda is the sole force behind the UN's narrow range of interests and actions... to the detriment of NATO and most west-leaning members.

So if this is the case, why are the United States and the rest of the NATO countries shouldering the lion's share of the financial and manpower (i.e. peacekeeping) burden for the UN?  It seems to me that, other than lending a whiff of credibility to the proceedings there on the East River (and paying pretty much all of the rent & utilities), the only other reason for the rest of the world to pay the slightest attention to the racist rantings of the UN's NAM members is to be able to occasionally veto the worst of the blood libels resolutions.

I have to think that if the United States would finally pull out of the UN and take the rest of NATO with it, several things would happen:

1.  The UN would immediately fold up its tent due to non-payment of rent and lack of manpower/funding to carry out its directives and resolutions.

2.  Russia and the remnants of the old Warsaw Pact (or at least those that haven't already joined NATO), would instantly lose their ability to stick their thumbs in the US's (and by extension, the West's) eye whenever it suited them, and would have to form their own club to advance their regional and global thumb-sticking goals.

3.  The Non-Aligned Movement would have to give up their impractical daydreams and face up to the realities of the modern world.  Most importantly, they would finally be forced to abandon as unrealistic the agendas of member-states that are destructive to the needs and goals of the larger movement.

Don't get me wrong... I am a big proponent of NAM.  I would also like to see Russia gather the few remaining Warsaw Pact countries and come to some kind of regional consensus over there.  And NATO... they should go on doing what they've been doing right along, albeit unfettered by their UN 'peacekeeping' obligations. 

Most importantly, with NAM members now possessing a huge portion of the world's cheap labor force and the last great pool of un-tapped emerging markets for consumer goods, the economic plowshares would finally be allowed to flex their ample muscles on the international stage alongside ever-present threat of the sword.

Even with the monetary and manpower contributions of the US and NATO, the UN never had the teeth necessary to carry out its stated mission.  As a result, the NAM agenda that has been allowed to monopolize the UN's efforts has resulted in nothing but low-intensity war and widespread economic stagnation (i.e. welfare states) around the planet. 

I believe that, just as most sovereign nations maintain diplomatic missions in the countries with whom they have relations (and through third parties where diplomatic relations are absent), the best result for everyone involved would be for NATO, the revived Warsaw Pact and NAM (and any other constellation of nations that feels it has something to gain by pooling resources), to maintain diplomatic missions in the major world capitols and advance their respective agendas according to mutually beneficial direct treaties and enforcible regional agreements.   

The result would be that these associations would suddenly be able to advance agendas proportionate to their relevance on the world stage, and no country or collection of countries would be made to pay for the privilege of advancing an agenda that is potentially destructive to itself or an ally.

I'm sure that my formula will probably result in short, brutal wars every two or three generations.  In fact, I'm sure of it.  But when I look at the alternative; the horrible festering brand of 'peace' that the UN has been able to offer up until now... such a peace is worse than no peace at all. 

As a result of the UN and NAM's current redundancy, the world is saddled with a new chronic condition that is identical in every way to war...except in name.  At least in my scenario, a certain Darwinian order would be allowed to emerge that would allow a few decades of relative prosperity between short, necessary conflicts... instead of the steady wasting disease that so many have mistaken for peace.

Posted by David Bogner on March 2, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (5) | TrackBack