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IN FLANDERS FIELDS
Lieutenant-Colonel John McCrae
May 3, 1917
In Flanders fields the poppies blow//Between the crosses, row on row//That mark our place; and in the sky//The larks, still bravely singing, fly//Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago//We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow//Loved and were loved, and now we lie//In Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe://To you from failing hands we throw//The torch; be yours to hold it high.//If ye break faith with us who die//We shall not sleep, though poppies grow//In Flanders fields.
ONE HUNDRED YEARS AFTER IN FLANDERS FIELDS,
A DOCTOR AND SOLDIER WRITES ON WHAT’S CHANGED — AND WHAT HASN’T
National Post, Nov. 6, 2015
The eye is drawn to difference, and so our conversations about war emphasize how much combat has changed since John McCrae’s time. The rise of drones and precision-guided munitions and aeromedical evacuation and satellite imagery. But the essence of McCrae’s wars remains the essence of ours: men trying to kill one another with fire. Put some accelerant – nitrates, usually – in with the fuel, and it burns fast. Confine it, and it explodes. Maybe the nitrates come as fertilizer, mixed with diesel fuel and tamped down in a pressure cooker, buried in a road. Maybe carbon is bonded to the nitrates to make gunpowder that pushes a projectile down a tube. To the extent that war has changed, it has changed in these, the engineering details of how shards of metal are blown toward teenagers and whoever else may be standing in the way…
War is aphoristically hell, and yet that hell is embraced. It is the central puzzle of “In Flanders Fields” and of a century of wars – First, Second, Cold, Gulf, Terror – that has not spared a single generation since McCrae. Contemporary readers avert their eyes from the third stanza of “In Flanders Fields,” preferring to concentrate on the first two and drink the melancholy and grief within them. Some people even imagine that this is an anti-war poem – just as they imagine that professional soldiers fight reluctantly.
But McCrae did not go to battle to ease the suffering of its victims. He went to war to help win it, to repair as many of the broken fighters as he could so that they might fight more and break more of the enemy. He wrote that he believed medical personnel were in any event beside the point – what the army needed to win was fighting men. Self-evidently true, this is still surprising to read from the pen of a physician.
What McCrae wrote in the third stanza of “In Flanders Fields,” entreating the living to “Take up our quarrel with the foe,” is also shocking. He adopts the voices of the dead, the men who have just lost the lives they were supposed to have lived – their children, the furniture they would have made, the houses they were to have built, the tender moments with their wives that were to have lingered as warming memories in their older years – and urges on more convulsive homicide. It is an act of astonishing and deluded presumption: Who would assume that, if the masses of war dead could speak – nearly 20 million in that conflagration – what they would urge on would be more of it? What sane person would suggest it?…
Until only one long lifetime ago, it was not possible to talk about unconscious drives and the havoc they wreak, because they had not themselves been contemplated. The other great intellectual revolution unfolding when the First World War came was psychoanalysis, though a man as resolute as McCrae may have disdained its insights. W.H.R. Rivers – like Freud, a neurologist – independently developed his psychoanalytic techniques to treat shell shock. He treated the war poets Siegfried Sassoon and Wilfred Owen successfully enough to send them back to the front. When he was in England being treated by Rivers, Owen wrote “Dulce et decorum est,” and this is its last stanza:
DULCE ET DECORUM EST
…If in some smothering dreams, you too could pace//Behind the wagon that we flung him in,//And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,//His hanging face, like a devil’s sick of sin;//If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood//Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs//Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud//Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues, –//My friend, you would not tell with such high zest//
To children ardent for some desperate glory,//The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est//Pro patria mori…
[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]
MEDIA-OCRITY OF THE WEEK: “Painfully, the Palestinian Oslo generation has reached its limit, disgusted with a peace process that did not lead to freedom, but to an apartheid reality accepted by too much of the world. As I watch this play out before me, and prepare to hand the reins of leadership to my children’s generation, I cannot help but wonder whether the Israeli people are capable of electing a leadership committed to a just peace. Where is their F.W. de Klerk? Israel seems prepared only to let the opportunity for a two-state peace slip away. If the possibility of a two-state solution does fade away—as is already happening courtesy of Mr. Netanyahu—Israel will consolidate apartheid across all of Palestine, pushing the achievement of Palestinian freedom, independence and equal rights beyond the horizon.” — Saeb Erekat, secretary-general of the Palestine Liberation Organization. (Wall Street Journal, Nov. 6, 2015)
Obama Shutters the Peace Process Shop: Aaron David Miller, Real Clear World, Nov. 9, 2015
Islam is a Religion of Violence: Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Foreign Policy, Nov. 9, 2015
What Canada Can Do to Help Stabilize the Middle East and Resurrect a Strong Western Alliance: Conrad Black, National Post, Nov. 7, 2015
Why is Russia Bombing My Town?: Raed Fares, Washington Post, Nov. 6, 2015
"What you saw publicly was evident behind closed doors as well…The first and most important issue we discussed was the memorandum of understanding on American security aid to Israel. We didn't focus on the amount, but I presented our security and technological needs with regards to regional threats. We have ISIS in Sinai and spillover in the Golan Heights. President Obama is aware of these challenges, including the likelihood that the Russian plane was downed." — Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who met with U.S. President Barack Obama at the White House on Monday. Obama and Netanyahu agreed to expedite talks on a new 10-year U.S. military aid package for Israel, in an effort to finish negotiations before the end of Obama's term. The current military aid to Israel, the prime minister noted, was half of American military aid to South Korea. (Ynet, Nov. 9, 2015)
"It's no secret that the prime minister and I have had a strong disagreement on this narrow (Iran nuclear) issue…But we don't have a disagreement on the need to make sure that Iran does not get a nuclear weapon, and we don't have a disagreement about the importance of us blunting destabilizing activities that may be taking place in Iran. And so, we're going to be looking to make sure that we find common ground there." — U.S. President Barack Obama. (Ynet, Nov. 9, 2015)
"The president has reached the conclusion that right now – barring a major shift – the parties are not going to be in a position to negotiate a final status agreement." — White House Middle East Adviser Rob Malley, ahead of Netanyahu's arrival in Washington. Despite Netanyahu's statement that “(Israelis) haven't given up on our hope for peace," U.S. officials said Obama has given up hope on reaching a peace accord before the end of his term. (Ynet, Nov. 9, 2015)
“As a candidate to become Prime Minister, [Justin] Trudeau had promised to maintain the substance of Canada’s exemplary relationship with Israel, modifying only the tone…However, just sworn-in Stephan Dion promises his ministry at Foreign Affairs will return to the role of ‘honest broker’ vis a vis Israel…Israel already has many ‘honest brokers’ among the Europeans. What Israel, a democracy surrounded by terrorist states and dictatorships needs is friends it can count on.” — Statement from the Canadian chapter of Christians United for Israel. The pro-Israel group expressed concern over just sworn-in Canadian Foreign Minister Stéphane Dion’s promise to have Canada become an “honest broker” with Israel. “Canada needs to maintain the moral clarity to differentiate between sister democracies and violent, terrorist states if it is to strengthen and help its many strong friends and allies among whom Israel has always been counted,” CUFI Canada said. (Algemeiner, Nov. 6, 2015)
“I would hope that Canada would be able to reopen its mission [in Tehran]… I’m fairly certain that there are ways to re-engage [Iran].” — Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, to a CBC interviewer in June, just as the U.S. and other world powers were concluding a nuclear agreement with Iran. Canada severed all diplomatic ties in September, 2012, when it shut down its embassy in Tehran and ordered all Iranian officials to leave Canada within five days. The drastic measure was intended as a rebuke of the Iranian regime for its human-rights abuses, provocative nuclear program, support for the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad and threats to Israel. (Globe & Mail, Nov. 5, 2015)
“As I have said, when we started the [nuclear] work, we were at war, and we wanted to have such an option for the day our enemies wanted to use nuclear weapons. This was [our] state of mind, but things never become serious.” — Former Iranian president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani. Rafsanjani, the head of Iran’s Expediency Council, admitted in an interview that his country started a nuclear weapons program during the Iran-Iraq War. Rafsanjani continued, “The principle of our doctrine was the use of nuclear [energy] for peaceful purposes, even though we never abandoned [the idea] that if we were some day to face a certain threat, and if it became necessary, then we would have the option of going to the other side [to develop nuclear weapons]. But we did not have a plan to do this, and we never deviated [from civilian use]…” (Jerusalem Post, Oct. 28, 2015)
“The advantage of the lone wolf here is that he is already established in the West, his entire life is a cover story – and a very strong one at that. So use that to your advantage. Be patient, don't rush anything, put your trust in Allah." — From a 64-page terrorist operations manual recently released by an Islamic State (I.S.) supporter on Twitter. FBI Director James Comey said last month that the Bureau has approximately 900 ongoing I.S.-related inquiries, most of which involve homegrown suspects. The manual, "Safety and Security Guidelines for Lone Wolf Mujahideen," provides detailed instructions on successfully carrying out terror attacks. (IPT News, Nov. 9, 2015)
EIGHT DEAD IN SHOOTING ATTACK IN JORDAN (Amman) — A senior Jordanian officer shot and killed eight people including two Americans and one South African military trainers Monday at a US-funded facility which trains Iraqi and Palestinian security forces, before being shot dead by fellow police officers. Jordan's government spokesman said the shooter also wounded two American instructors and three Jordanians in the attack which occurred at a facility in the eastern outskirts of Amman. Jordan is part of a US-led coalition battling I.S., which has seized territory in its neighbors Syria and Iraq. The shooting occurred on the 10th anniversary of the Amman bombings, in which 65 people were killed in a series of coordinated attacks targeting three hotels in the capital by al-Qaida in Iraq, the predecessor of I.S. which overran a large swath of territory in Syria and Iraq. (I24, Nov. 9, 2015)
NETANYAHU FREEZES APPOINTMENT OF SPOKESMAN WHO ACCUSED OBAMA OF ANTISEMITISM (Jerusalem) — Prime Minister Netanyahu froze Ran Baratz’s appointment as his new media chief after past Facebook posts he had written insulting Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry became headline fodder around the world. Baratz had described Obama actions as “modern anti-Semitism,” referred to Kerry as someone “whose mental age doesn’t exceed 12” and charged that President Reuven Rivlin is unworthy to hold office. Netanyahu said he had not known about Baratz’s comments prior to announcing his appointment. (Jerusalem Post, Nov. 5, 2015)
MUSTARD AGENT WAS USED IN SYRIA ATTACK, MONITORING AGENCY SAYS (Damascus) — The international organization that monitors chemical weapons use said Friday that a mustard agent was used in an attack on the Syrian town of Marea in August. Three people were injured in the August attack on the town in Aleppo province. The organization didn’t name a perpetrator for the attack. Opposition rebels and activists in the area have said the attack was carried out by I.S., who have been trying to seize control of the town for months. The attack on Marea came after U.S. officials said they believed I.S. had used a mustard agent against Kurdish forces in Iraq and Syria in August, the first indication that the terrorist group had obtained chemical weapons. (Wall Street Journal, Nov. 6, 2015)
SYRIAN GOVERNMENT ACCUSED OF PROFITING FROM ABDUCTIONS (Damascus) — The Syrian government has profited from the abduction of tens of thousands of people during the country’s civil war, according to a report by Amnesty International based on interviews with Syrians alleging that bribes are routinely demanded for details about the missing. The rights group says the government of President Assad oversees an “insidious black market” that exploits Syrians desperate for information about loved ones amid the country’s “widespread and systematic enforced disappearances.” Syrian authorities, the report alleges, are linked to middlemen and brokers who charge hefty fees for relaying information about missing people. The Assad government has long been accused of trying to silence critics with the extensive use of detentions and abductions. (Washington Post, Nov. 5, 2015)
RUSSIA FINALIZES AIR DEFENSE MISSILE CONTRACT WITH IRAN (Moscow) — Russia has finalized a contract for the delivery of advanced air-defense missile systems to Iran. Sergei Chemezov, the head of Russian Technologies, the holding company that includes the arms trader, said that "the contract with Iran for the S-300 has entered into force." Russia in 2010 froze a deal to supply advanced S-300 missile systems to Iran, linking the decision to U.N. sanctions. President Putin lifted the suspension earlier this year following Iran's deal with six world powers that curbed its nuclear program in exchange for relief from sanctions. The missile system deal has long worried Israel and other countries in the region, as well as the U.S., which see it as destabilizing. (Yahoo, Nov. 9, 2015)
IRAN RESPONSIBLE FOR DEADLY ROCKET ATTACK ON CAMP LIBERTY IN IRAQ (Baghdad) — An Iranian dissident group said more than 20 of its members in Iraq were killed in October when a barrage of Iranian-made rockets slammed into a former U.S. military base near Baghdad where Iraqi authorities have kept the dissidents for years. Although the casualty count could not be immediately verified, Iraqi police confirmed that at least 16 rockets had rained down on Camp Liberty, a facility the Iraqi government has used since 2012 to house more than 2,000 members of the Iranian opposition group known as the Mujahedeen-e-Khalq, or MEK. No one claimed responsibility, but MEK leaders were quick to pin ultimate blame on the Iranian government and claimed that Tehran-backed leaders in Baghdad willingly allowed the attack to occur. (Washington Times, Oct. 29, 2015)
IRAN ARRESTS 'LEBANESE-AMERICAN' FOR ESPIONAGE (Tehran) — Iran arrested a "Lebanese-American citizen" on suspicion of espionage, according to a state-run media outlet. Nazar Zaka had "deep ties with the U.S. military and intelligence services," said IRIB. The U.S. State Department said Zaka is not a U.S. citizen. The arrest of Zaka came several days after Siamak Namazi, a Dubai-based businessman with dual U.S. and Iranian citizenship, was detained while visiting relatives in Tehran. Four other Americans are being held in Iran. IRIB also reported Tuesday that Iran arrested an "infiltration network" affiliated with the U.S. and British governments and people operating in cyberspace and Iran's media who collaborated with Western governments. (CNN, Nov. 3, 2015)
LEBANESE MAN ‘LURES FATHER TO SYRIA TO BE BEHEADED BY IS’ (Beirut) — A Lebanese man lured his father to Raqqa, Syria — the self-proclaimed capital of I.S.’s “caliphate” — to be beheaded by the Islamic extremists, according to a Lebanese TV report aired last week. The father, Mahmoud al-Hussein, from the city of Tripoli, recently traveled to Syria to retrieve his two daughters who were convinced by their brother, Yehia al-Hussein, 20, to join I.S. According to Mahmoud al-Hussein’s brother, he was ambushed by the group his son and daughters now belonged to, charged with alleged crimes such as “insulting the Prophet Muhammad,” “contacts with the Turkish embassy,” and “relations with the Lebanese government,” and then beheaded. (Times of Israel, Nov. 7, 2015)
THREE ARRESTED AFTER ISRAELI SCHOLAR SHOUTED DOWN AT U. OF MINNESOTA (Minneapolis) — A lecture at the University of Minnesota Law School last week by renowned Israeli scholar Moshe Halbertal was marred when anti-Israel protesters repeatedly shouted down his remarks. The protesters delayed the lecture by half an hour with repeated shouts and interruptions from the audience, before continuing to chant outside the room in which the event was held. Halbertal, a professor at both New York University and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, was scheduled to give a presentation on the ethics of war. The protests were endorsed by the campus branch of Students for Justice in Palestine and was organized by the Minnesota Anti-War Committee. The protesters were eventually removed from the building by campus police. (The Tower, Nov. 4, 2015)
GAZA DEMONSTRATORS MARK BALFOUR DECLARATION ANNIVERSARY BY BURNING FLAGS (Gaza) — Palestinian demonstrators in Gaza burned British, U.S. and Israeli flags to mark the anniversary of the Balfour Declaration. Members of the al-Nasser Salah al-Deen Brigades terrorist group brandished guns, swords and axes at a demonstration in Rafah. The demonstrators then burned the flags of the three countries. Signed on Nov. 2, 1917, by British Foreign Secretary Arthur Balfour, the Balfour Declaration stated that the British government “views with favor the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people and would use their best endeavors to facilitate the achievement of this object.” The declaration, issued while the area that is now Israel was still under the control of the Ottoman Empire, represented a pivotal victory for Zionists and has been credited with helping pave the way for the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948. (JTA, Nov. 3, 2015)
IN SWEDEN, A KRISTALLNACHT COMMEMORATION WITHOUT JEWS (Stockholm) — In the Swedish city of Umea, organizers of a Kristallnacht commemoration have been accused of excluding Jews. The Kristallnacht pogroms, carried out in territories controlled by Nazi Germany on November 9-10, 1938, resulted in the destruction of 267 synagogues and the internment of 30,000 Jewish men in concentration camps. According to local media and the leader of the city’s small Jewish community, organizers failed to invite them to attend or address the gathering, which some believe has been re-purposed for political reasons. Some critics have accused the organizers of using the event to promote agendas unrelated to the Holocaust. The head of the city’s Jewish community said she was shocked to learn that the reason she was not contacted was because organizers believed that “Jewish people will be scared to come” because often Israeli flags are on display with swastikas daubed across them. (Jerusalem Post, Nov. 9, 2015)
YITZHAK NAVON, ISRAEL’S FIFTH PRESIDENT, DIES AT 94 —Yitzhak Navon, Israel’s fifth president, diplomat, key adviser to David Ben-Gurion and respected Labor politician, died Friday night at the age of 94. Navon, the scion of a long line of renowned Sephardi rabbis, was born on April 9, 1921. Navon served as the head of the Arab section of the Haganah, the forerunner to the IDF, in the years running up to the establishment of the state. He then served as an Israeli diplomat in Latin America, before becoming personal secretary to Israel’s first foreign minister, Moshe Sharett, from 1950-1952. Navon then took a position as a political adviser to David Ben-Gurion, a post he held for more than a decade, becoming one of the first Prime Minister’s most trust aides. (Times of Israel, Nov. 7, 2015)
Obama Shutters the Peace Process Shop: Aaron David Miller, Real Clear World, Nov. 9, 2015 — This week the Obama administration once again declared the peace process, and hopes for an agreement between Israelis and Palestinians, closed for the season. White House officials stated that an agreement between the two sides "isn't in the cards" during what remains of the Obama presidency.
Islam is a Religion of Violence: Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Foreign Policy, Nov. 9, 2015 — In the 14 years since the attacks of 9/11 brought Islamic terrorism to the forefront of American and Western awareness and then-President George W. Bush launched the “Global War on Terror,” the violent strain of Islam appears to have metastasized.
What Canada Can Do to Help Stabilize the Middle East and Resurrect a Strong Western Alliance: Conrad Black, National Post, Nov. 7, 2015—The new government has already declared that it will, as promised in the late election campaign, withdraw Canada’s token participation in the U.S.-led bombing campaign against the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq, although it is continuing to train some local forces supported by the West.
Why is Russia Bombing My Town?: Raed Fares, Washington Post, Nov. 6, 2015 — On Jan. 29, 2014, I pulled into my driveway after a typical day of work. But after I got out of my car, a masked gunman jumped from his hiding place and fired bullets into my chest. A second gunman then appeared and fired more shots. As I lay bleeding, I felt death embrace me.