Gwynne Dyer UofR Liveblog

Gwynne Dyer

John Conway gives introduction. Mentions Dyer is blacklisted in most major Canadian newspaper chains!

7:49 Dyer starts. He’s a journalist, making sense of history without the benefit of looking back or having time to gather facts like historians do.

“Last 10 years have been dark times.”
“Wading through an ocean of lies, and stupidity, and brutality.” and why?
Likes the current Russian regime more than the Soviet one.
End of the cold war.
Vanishing of the threat of thermonuclear war. Was optimistic in the 1990s. Made amazing progress on climate change in ’80s.

RPIRG.org and SCIC sponsoring his talk tonight.

“The whole world gets turned over…”
September 11, 2001. It’s silly, it was a terrible day and a big deal, but it didn’t have to make it a miserable decade of dark times.
“it’s not a really big thing in the view of history.” every month, 3000 Americans are killed in mundane ways too.
2 wars in the Middle East.
“We’re nearing the end of the tunnel”.

Now let’s look at what happened.
9/11 was a strategic action by terrorists, they are “wicked, but not stupid” “they are political actors”
So ask what the strategy was!
He’s intentionally skipping the conspiracy theories. Assuming Arabs did organize attack.
They were Arabs, don’t think of them as Muslims. All hijackers were Arab.

Every generation in Middle East has been poorer than those in the 1960s.
Mubarak was the American’s man, not Egypt’s.
“People don’t like being pawns in somebody else’s game” and some turned into revolutionaries because of that. Dyer figures he’d be one if he grew up there.

Islamist ideology, how to explain it, “simple minded would be a compliment”. They call themselves Muslims because the ideology requires it. “We have lost God’s support because of the way we live.” “We’re half westernized.”
So they want a gov’t with God’s Will in mind instead.
The Taliban had no foreign policy, they were “OCD” about beard length and making female skin vanish from public.

“You can make an enormous nuisance of yourself as a terrorist, but you never ‘win’.”
Actual support for Islamists in Arab world was maybe only ever as high as 15%. Mobs wouldn’t come out to install theocracies everywhere, was easier to watch TV.

“In the terrorist strategy handbook for dummies, it’s item 1A” – drive people into the arms of revolutionaries. 9/11 worked. 2 American invasions into the Arab world, legitimizing Osama’s message.
“The Americans did everything Bin Laden wanted them to.”
“It’s really dangerous to be near the American army, even if you’re their friend.” (Recall Canadians dying in friendly fire bombing?)
Abu Ghraib humiliated Iraqis. Americans kept firepower to protect themselves, and let Iraqi innocents die around them. (Imagine if the same were done in Holland 1944?)

“Interesting Obama didn’t shut down Guantanamo Bay” he can’t do it. Military industry is too powerful.

Climate change biggest casualty of 2000s. Everything put on hold until the Americans straighten up.
Canada may emerge too, but internationally looking up. “transformation in the Arab world” exhilarating

Arab region second poorest in the world. Democracy won’t cure poverty right away. Feels like 1989, beginning a decade of hope.

Russia 1989, few weeks after Tienanmen in China. Big demo not organized by state in Moscow. He stayed on the sidewalk, keeping eye on doorway to duck into should it need to be escaped. He saw the Army in the crowd, participating really. Knew it was going to be okay at that sight.
Same in Egypt, but days later gov’t hired thugs. Army announced it would not fire on the people. Didn’t happen in Libya. Mercenaries from elsewhere with no regard for the nation.
Bahrain.
Many Arab armies in Arab world. In sufficient numbers, secret police will be overwhelmed, not backstopped by armies.
“Has the makings of an Arab 1989.” “Tastes like it.”

He bought a Canadian newspaper, for 2 pages of international news. Every story about Middle East!
(WTF. 3% of the economy of the world is there. Where’s coverage of elsewhere?)

8:28 – Ripples around the world when change happens in Arab world because we watch them so closely.

The West should not intervene in North Africa. No right to order young men and women here to die in Libya.
Yemen, Jordan, Bahrain, active demos in town squares.
Tomorrow scheduled day of rage in Saudi Arabia! Not in Syria, army would likely open fire.

Monarchy ok if you have a functional democracy in real control.

No long term oil price impact on turnover in ME.

Israel, our “protege”. What becomes of it when surrounded by democratic countries? Then they can’t act superior, saying worse countries surround them. They’ll find themselves on their own, more than now. USA is only country they look to. “rapidly eroding position” to give money to every American political elite.

Arab countries gave up decades ago to try military attacks on Israel.
Palestinians have some rights too. “Takes a long time, but even Americans pick up on that.”
Israel has two years at most to come up with a two state solution and make it work, left.
Rabin was a strategist, tough as an old boot. Give Palestinians something, but they lose, was his deal.

15-20% people in Palestinian territory are Israeli settlers.
“Many of the settlers are fanatics,” “they’d fight.”
Palestinians are deciding to wait. Higher birth rate. Go for a one state solution with the vote.
The Israel gov’t wouldn’t yield in a lost vote, and would find themselves in the exact same position as the South African apartheid regime.

(Ah yes, this lecture is part of the Israeli Apartheid Week events.)
Two state solution will fade out if not implemented. Hamas and Fatah split. Fatah was two state focused.

There’s a clock ticking here. “Many staring into the headlights.”
Step back and look one more time.
“The world is in better shape internationally than its ever been. No great power fears attack by another, when in human history has that happened?”
These are ideal circumstances to deal with big problems. Climate change. Everybody is together all the time. Global media.
Who watched Al Jezeera? About half of hall’s hands go up! 10 years ago not the case certainly.

“No country will cut emissions on its own”. Cost disadvantage. Do not expect people to behave responsibly on their own.
80% air pollution today is due to industrialized countries doing pollution for 200 years, and we got rich because we did it first. China doesn’t have room to develop the same way we did it.

Only way to solve the mess gracefully:
Old industrial countries take deep cuts 40% in first 10 years. Others come up maybe 10% in emissions to let new coal plants to be finished. All new energy built need to be non-fossil fuel; everywhere.
All the alternative sources are now more expensive. Who pays the difference? We do, our penance for early development. Shovel out money for clean power elsewhere. Lopsided in appearance. “Virtually impossible”.

If Harper had signed in Copenhagen, he’d say: We saved the world. Requires scarifies, taxes going up, tar sands being shut down by me personally, and $30B going overseas. “Vote for me!”

Democracies have a job to do, they have to understand the situation. Public education, decent media, good politicians.
“Not much good being a failed politician. Good luck to them, and us.”

Questions
9:03
Iran was never carved up, not Arab, is Persian. “More like a real country”
Iran hasn’t attacked anybody, it was attacked by Iraq with American support. No acts of terrorism, it does support Hezbollah, but Dyer doesn’t say they are normal terrorists as we think of them.
Oil production, declining. Fooling around with nuclear weapons. Surrounded by powers with them. Wants a “threshold capability”.

Islamists hate Iran. If something goes wrong in Pakistan, Iran wants a deterrent.

Q. economics driving this all? Corps like Haliburton, and debt?
A. 7 Times global GDP being traded daily. Debt is huge problem.
Debt has been tackled before, in 5 years. 10 to unwind American debt, but not past impossible.
Haliburton is a filthy organization, but not in the top 10 of problem making corporations. Didn’t cause Iraq, is just parasitic.
“General problem of capitalism.
Can you fix the world without fixing capitalism first”? Not enough time to do both it seems.

Q. Afghanistan?
A. Dumb war. A trap Bin Laden laid.
Canadians are going home one way or another soon.
Taliban may not have known what Bin Laden planned. They were in power, why risk an invasion?

Dyer mocking theoretical call from Bin Laden to Kandahar Sept. 6 2001. “Hi, it’s me Osama. We’re going to kill 3000 Americans, just giving you a heads up, hope that’s okay.” The Taliban would have shipped Osama off rather than take the fall for his deed.

-1 troop for 200 Afghanis, and we don’t speak their languages, and we’re going to change their society!? Yeah right!

Obama may be speaking over heads of media, to Taliban, asking them to give appearance of American victory so he can pull out.
Taliban are not going to follow us home.

Wrapped up by Jenn Bergen.

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