Monday, October 30, 2006

"Denmark will stay in Iraq"

Recent opinion polls have shown increasing opposition in the Danish public to continued Danish military presence in Iraq. More than 60 per cent of the Danish electorate want Danish soldiers out.
But the Danish government does not waiver. According to Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen Denmark will remain as long as the Iraqui government wants it to, as long as it is under UN mandate and as long as it contributes to developing democracy in Iraq.

And one might add: As long as the US government wants Denmark to remain as part of a weakening "coalition of the willing". It is necessary to prop up the puppet regime in Baghdad which would not take long to fall if the coalition troops were withdrawn.

According to resolution 1637 of the Security Council:

Determining that the situation in Iraq continues to constitute a threat to
international peace and security,
Acting under Chapter VII of the Charter of the United Nations,
1. Notes that the presence of the multinational force in Iraq is at the request
of the Government of Iraq and, having regard to the letters annexed to this
resolution, reaffirms the authorization for the multinational force as set forth in
resolution 1546 (2004) and decides to extend the mandate of the multinational force
as set forth in that resolution until 31 December 2006

Anders Fogh Rasmussen discussed the matter with Nordic colleagues at Nordic Council meeting in Copenhagen on Monday 30th. The Iraqui government wants the foreign troops to remain after expiry at end of the year. Fogh Rasmussen thinks that Denmark contributes positively to building up democracy in Iraq. It is the white man's burden to build democracy among the savages in the desert! For the Americans - and the Danes - the oil interests are of paramount importance. Leaving Iraq to itself may endanger the whole situation in all of the Mid East area.

On October 28th Bush said in an address to military personel in Charleston South Carolina:

We face an enemy that knows no bounds and no conscience. They're ideologues. But their ideology is the exact opposite of ours. They kill innocent people to achieve their evil objectives. But make no mistake about it, they have objectives. They have clearly stated that they want to drive the United States from the world so they can establish a caliphate, a governing organization from Indonesia to Spain, that would allow them to spread their ideology of hate, allow them to dominate a society in which people could not worship freely, or speak freely, in which people who did not adhere to their point of view would be punished. They seek safe haven from which to launch further attacks to achieve their objective. And their attacks would aim right here at the United States of America.
I want you to think about a world in which rival forms of radicals competed for power in the Middle East, to deny the hopes and aspirations of millions of people who simply want to live in peace. They would topple moderate governments. They would use oil as an economic weapon to bring the West to her knees, and to mix all that in with a country with a nuclear weapon. And 20 or 30 years from now, if that were to happen, people would look back and say, what happened to them in 2006? How come they couldn't see the challenge? How come they couldn't see the threats to a generation of Americans?

The enemy is "evil". The Danes and the Americans are God's own children, who fight for the good. Bush and Fogh Rasmussen do not understand that they themselves have produced the terrorists that keep coming out of the dungeons in increasing numbers. The "war on terror" is an ill-conceived idea. It is use of the word "war" in the wrong way. It produces more terrorists than it does away with.

It is quite typical that the only support Fogh Rasmussen got at the Nordic summit meeting was from Lithuanian prime minister Gediminas Kirkilas. This is the Europe that Rumsfeld dubbed "New Europe". In "Old Europe", for instance Sweden, an opinion poll has shown that a majority of Swedes consider the US a bigger threat to international peace than North Corea. - Who hoodwinked the Swedes? - Who hoodwinked the Danes?

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Jyllandsposten acquitted

The Jyllandsposten was acquitted today of violating the libel and racism articles in the Danish penal code. The court in the city of Aarhus found the paper's chief editor Carsten Juste and culture editor Flemming not guilty. The charge was brought by 7 muslim organisations in Denmark after the general attorney Henning Fode would not press charges as public prosecutor against the paper.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

The Two most Obstinate Men in the World

The Independent's front page today.

Yes, indeed! One would think that in a democracy they would have to admit defeat? But no! Then there must be some other reason for the stubbornness, - like pressure from their backing groups?

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Nobel Prize in Economics given to Conservative Economist

Apart from 2001, when Joe Stiglitz got the prize with two other economists, it seems to have become a rule of thumb that the Nobel prize in economics be given to a conservative economist with pro-American leanings. America is the unofficial leader of the free world and the leading exponent of the Anglo-American model of free market competitive capitalism. So perhaps it is no wonder that the Sweden's Riksbank should give the prize to representatives of this profit-oriented view of the world we live in.

Phelps is being heralded for being an early critic of the Phillips-curve. In the opinion of many economists this curve showing a relationship between the two economic variables of the rate of unemployment and the rate of inflation is associated with keynesianism. In the Keynesian economists tool-box of economic policy instruments the right balance between unemployment and inflation could be found, it was thought.

The trade-off between inflation and unemployment was, however, never an important element in Keynes' work. It is due rather more to the post-Keynesians.
Phelps was right to point out that the inverse relationship between unemployment and inflation would to a large extent be determined by expectations. When inflationary expectations are built into the economy it may be difficult to make expansionary monetary and financial policies work. This, however, was correct in the mid-seventies, after the first oil shock, and well into the 1980's. It is not very interesting today.

Nor is the NAIRU, non accelerating inflation rate of unemployment, very interesting, as you can see it move back and forth according to the arbitrary labour market policies being pursued by various governments. The Scandinavian economies are a case in point. Many Danish and Swedish economists are surprised at the present low level of unemployment in Denmark. It should not be possible - at least not with the low level of inflation that persists in the country. A few years ago it was thought that the rate of "natural" unemployment in Denmark was 7-8 per cent. Now unemployment is getting close to 4 per cent, without triggering inflation, not for the time being at least. The rate of "natural unemployment" is a truism, reflecting after-rationalization about the working of the economy.

So what is Phelps' big contribution to economics today? - good question. The WSJ journal article (move down a few lines on the page the link brings you to) summing up Phelps' reactionary views on the trans-atlantic economic debate, and quoted by many when citing Phelps' latter-day work, cannot be considered an original contribution to economics. An example:

"The U.S. economy might be said to suffer from incomplete inclusion of the disadvantaged. But that is less a fault of capitalism than of electoral politics. The U.S. economy is not unambiguously worse than the Continental ones in this regard: Low-wage workers at least have access to jobs, which is of huge value to them in their efforts to be role models in their family and community. In any case, we can fix the problem".

Here Phelps is apologetic about the fact that many workers must make do with 5.15$ an hour (federal minimum wage). Actually, in spite of this extremely low wage nobody can live on in the US, there is still considerable unemployment in many places. In Phelps' view capitalism is not at fault. But how can an hispanic or black worker be a "role model" for his or her kids with a minimum level of education and a wage that nobody can survive on? It seems as if the relevant economic questions to Phelps are: How do you maximize profits? - Disregarding the impact on income and wealth distribution. They are not: How do you maximize living conditions for the low-paid workers in the economy? Because that would require investments in education, housing and health. That would require higher taxes, and that is not palatable to the conservative economist.

It is not much more than a political-ideological defense of competitive capitalism, of the Anglo-American capitalism model as opposed to the "central European corporatist model". It is always entertaining to whiplash the latter and accentuate the value of the former, but it is not a sign of sound economic sense.

The recent success of the American economy in terms of over-liquidization and over-consumption due to printing too many dollar bills and assets, which unfortunately mostly accrue to the wealthier segments of society, actually proves that Keynes is right.
The enormous budget deficit has stimulated the economy and brought unemployment down. This has been due to a stimulus to effective demand, not by supply side effects. But it has led to balance of payments deficits and budget deficits that are not sustainable in the long run. What is sustainable in the long run, however, is the proven competitiveness of the European "corporatist model". Germany and other central European economies are gaining market share in international markets at the moment.

The USA and Britain are losing market share, especially in manufactured products. Why did the Economic Nobel Committee give the Nobel prize in economics to a man whose economic theorizing was slightly interesting two decades ago, and whose economic writing is no better than the average conservative economic journalist? Well, there is probably a political motive behind it. How many Keynesian economists have got the prize, one may ask once again?

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Danish People's Party: "Mohammed's Possible Pedophile Inclinations satisfied by Aischa"

Illustration from the review in Danish People Magazine

In the Danish People's Party's magazine, which is published 6 times a year, there is a review of a book on Mohammed's life. The reviewer writes that "In Germany there is a disappointed publisher who can only dream of the global attention which Jyllandsposten got after the paper printed the 12 cartoons of the prophet Mohammed. Already in 2004 Dr. Armin Geus, manager of Basilisken-Presse in Marburg, published the controversial book "The Prophet's Harem" by Johann Georg Mausinger."

The reviewer continues writing that it's a book with a number of juicy illustrations of the "carnal sides of the prophet's life". And further:

"The book describes how Mohammed fully lived up to his own statement that in life on earth only three things interested him: Women, good scents and prayer. Mohammed was exceedingly prolific and active in the art of love making. He had several wives simultaneously, and in the Harem there was something appealing to any taste - possible pedophile inclinations were satisfied by the only 9 year-old wife Aischa".

In all its stupidity the review is characterised by a completely ahistorical view of Mohammed and the historical period he lived in. It was not uncommon for men to be married to young girls. That should not be interpreted as pedophilia, which is a contemporary sexual perversion. By using this term the party reviewer reveals that his intention is to pour scorn on Mohammed, not to try to deal with the religious and historical character in a detached, unbiased way.

The book review is printed in nr 2 2006 edition of the magazine, and the corresponding .pdf file has just today been uploaded to the party's website. According to spokespeople from the party this is pure coincidence. There has been some delay in publication, it is claimed. This is considered normal practice in the party.

There does not seem to be much doubt, however, that it is meant as a provocation, following in the wake of the recent scandal about the video from the cartoon competition in the Youth Party's summer camp. The right wing Danish People's Party wants to tell everybody that it doesn't take the sensitivities of Muslims seriously. The party finds it amusing to tease people's sensitivities. Perhaps it also wants to score some votes in the upcoming elections by being stalwart defenders of freedom of expression.

It is deeply ironical that freedom of expression does not apply to the party's own members. Recently 11 members have been expelled from the party for voicing criticism of the party leadership.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Indictment of "Opror"

The Danish Minister of Justice Lene Espersen has decided to indict the spokesperson of the movement Opror ("Rebellion") for violating the Danish anti-terror legislation. After 9/11 2001 the Danish penal code has been expanded with the following article:

§ 114 b. Den, som i øvrigt ved tilskyndelse, råd eller dåd medvirker til at fremme den kriminelle virksomhed eller det fælles formål for en gruppe eller sammenslutning, som foretager en eller flere handlinger omfattet af § 114 eller § 114 a, nr. 1 eller 2, når virksomheden eller formålet indebærer, at en eller flere handlinger af denne karakter begås, straffes med fængsel indtil 6 år (The Danish Penal Code).

According to this article noone is allowed to incite to terror, or promote terror, by means of advice og help. Punishment for violation of the article may be up to 6 years behind bars.

In 2005 Opror collected money to the Colombian FARC guerillas and the Palestinian PFLP. FARC received some 50.000 Danish Kroners (about 8000 $). Some of the money was collected through the arrangement of a party and the income from this party. Opror has some 700 members, and during the party (in August 2005) a large number of people were aware that they paid for tickets, music, and drinks in support of FARC. Furthermore Opror has published an appeal on its website that encourages others to collect money for the organisations mentioned. This appeal has been removed by the police from the Opror website, but it can still be read on the website of the Danish Parliament as it is part of a question asked by a parliamentarian of the Unity List in Parliament. The view point of the Unity List and Opror is that the Danish state violates the principles of freedom of expression in the Danish constitution.

As a lot of people have been involved, and there is a principle of collective leadership in Opror, it does not seem to be an easy judicial case. By only indicting the spokesperson, this person is made the defendant of an act that hundreds of people have taken part in. The question may hence be asked: Why aren't all those responsible of supporting the FARC guerillas indicted?

It is well-known that the Danish government has been under pressure of the Colombian government, which has even asked for extradition of not only the spokesperson, but a large part of the members of Opror. It is conceivable that the Danish government has been under pressure from its close ally the United States of America. The Danish people are suffocating under the pressure of Big Brother. Before this embrace by Uncle Sam Danes could do solidarity work in 3rd world countries. They could collect money for freedom movements. A lot of people got involved. This is getting increasingly difficult in this stifling intellectual atmosphere.

It is obvious that this whole case has become a caricature of the functioning of the international judicial system after the 9/11 2001 strengthening of the terror legislation in a number of countries. The European Union has accepted blindfoldedly that a large number of organisations and movements have been placed on the terror list.

A lot of Danes are now fearful about collecting money to humanitarian organisations and freedom movements. Are the FARC guerilla fighters a freedom movement, or are they "terrorists". Perhaps they have been involved in acts that might be called terror, but so have American agents when they have been trying to effect regime change in Cuba and other places. Apart from that the FARC have a programme for societal change for the benefit of poor Colombian farmers, and the organisation is administrating large parts of Colombia in ways that most people would not categorise as terroristic. Danes are not allowed to support that work. This has been stressed by the Danish government by its pressing charges against Opror.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Cartoons Exhibition in Copenhagen Causes Anger in Jewish Community

(Bitsch drawings that have provoked an uproar in Danish media. Click on drawings for larger prints)

The Cartoons made by the Danish artist Joergen Bitsch, which were among winners in the holocaust cartoons competition in Iran, are now on exhibit at the Café Riga in Vesterbro Copenhagen. This has caused outrage in the Jewish religious community, Mosaisk Trossamfund, in Copenhagen. The leader of Mosaisk Trossamfund, Jacques Blum has called those responsible for the exhibition "useful tools" for the priesthood in Teheran. The gallery manager Bent Jespersen has been accused of making fun of holocaust.

The drawings, or those among them that have caused the most consternation (can be seen in a higher resolution here) , depict three starved children, the one to the left being a victim of holocaust and those to the right victims of the present/and future globalised world order.

Is the whole matter really a case of "the chickens coming home to roost?" after the Mohammed cartoons: The Danes being not so open-minded as they thought they were, when the victims of freedom of expressions were the muslims? It's hard to tell. So far, the holocaust cartoons have mostly been debated in intellectual circles, where opinions are divided. Most people tend to view them as artists' freedom of expression. But also some people express some "solidarity" with the Jews in Mosaisk Trossamfund and condemn the drawings. What has probably enraged jews the most is the fact that the infant victim of holocaust is holding a note in his hand that says "goodwill", and the fact that the title of the three cartoons is "Where's the Real Holocaust?".

Friday, October 06, 2006

New Mohammed Drawings in Danish People's Party

(Members of DPP Youth laughing and having fun at drawing of Mohammed as a camel urinating)

The right wing Danish People's Party is its own arbiter concerning what is an acceptable debate in the party, Danish Journal The Politiken writes. It has just expelled 9 members of the party due to these members' criticism of the lack of openness to discussion in the party.

On the other hand the leadership of the party finds it acceptable that the youth organisation of the party has made crude fun of the prophet Mohammed (link here to videos of drawing contest). This happened at a national reunion in the youth branch where the participants made a contest about who could make most fun of the prophet. Some of the young people dressed up in turbans and pistol belts, others made drawings of the prophet as a camel peeing and drinking beer, and as a drunk terrorist bombing Copenhagen.

One of the top leaders of the party, member of parliament and foreign affairs spokesman Soren Espersen sees no problem in this kind of mockery. To the paper he says: "I see no problems in mockery of the Prophet. This was done in a party mood, where we are free to make fun. I myself could make a contest about drawing Mohammed for my own anniversary. This is pertinent considering that we have been doing nothing else than discussing Mohammed drawings for a whole year. "

The same tolerance does, however, not apply to the party's own members when they want to criticise decisions by the leadership. Everybody is expected to stick to the party line in hardcore stalinistic style. Otherwise they'll be hit by the long vengeful arm of Pia Kjaersgaard.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Danish Enlightenment against the Dark and Evil Forces

At the opening of the Danish Parliament's new session October 3rd prime minister once more celebrated Denmark's activist foreign policy, hand in hand with Bush' America. He did so by speaking condescendingly to the Palestinians: "We do not question the election. But we must demand that Hamas stops terror, recognizes the right of Israel to exist, and accepts existing agreements."

There is nothing about the war Israel has been waging against the Palestinian territory for some months, leading to a couple of hundred dead, among them dozens of children, and destroying infrastructure. Nor does he mention the virtual blockade Israel has made of the area, leading to hunger and destitution among the Palestinian people.

The Danish PM talks about helping democracy along. That's why Denmark is involved in Afghanistan and Iraq, he says. "We want to help the populations to freedom and self-rule.... That's difficult, because the terrorists fear freedom".

By using the term "terrorist" in this way, Anders Fogh Rasmussen is clouding further debate - that is probably done deliberately. The "terrorists" do not as such reside in countries like Iraq and Afghanistan. The "terrorists" are without country and borders. They are virtual states of mind, living secret lives in certain parts of the internet and in people's imagination. The Danes and the Americans have not hit very many "terrorists" by waging war on the territories of Iraq and Afghanistan. Instead they have been waging war on Iraqi and Afghani populations, thus producing new terrorists in the thousands, because the people in these countries are getting enraged at what they perceive as foreign domination and occupation.