Friday, January 24, 2014

What should the EU learn from the situation in Ukraine

Ukraine is another example of EU failure resulting from expansionist policies. As the situation in Kiev increasingly resembles a civil war the EU has failed to take an effective stance. Not only does Russia have a greater stake in Ukraine, it also has more potential for wielding influence. That's not just the 15 billion dollars that Putin has now promised. With its - failed - association agreement, the EU seems to have overlooked this. Russia's partnership with Ukraine is of decisive importance for its geopolitical position in Europe. Russia has legitimate interests in Ukraine that can't be ignored. So it's high time to bury the completely anachronistic conflict between Brussels and Moscow about whose zone of influence Ukraine lies in. The EU must come to an understanding with Russia. By working together, they can perhaps bring their influence to bear in Kiev.

I have always felt that the task the EU has set itself to is too complex to be handled by an organisation. The integration of nation states into a common legal and economic block with citizen rights as the aim of governance is not something anyone has got anything reasonable against. It’s the politics and organisational processes that I object against. The EU has turned into an expansionist institution very similar to imperial powers, as they always do, the EU too has lost discretion and effectiveness. let me highlight what I mean by expansionism, after the fall of communism the EU expanded to the east and south. the accession process was the single most important engine for change in those countries. But once the member state has joined the European Union, The EU has no instrument to see whether the rule of law and the independence of the judiciary still command respect. In some cases it does not; less than three months after joining the EU Croatia created laws to protect alleged war criminals who committed atrocities during the Balkan wars from extradition. And new member states across Central Europe continue to draw fire for segregation and violent attacks against minorities. Amnesty International reported more than 120 beatings, shootings and stabbings over the past four years. When the Croatian soccer player Josip Simunic celebrated his team's victory over Iceland in 2013 with a nationalist slogan from the country's World War II pro-Nazi puppet regime, thousands of fans roared in approval. Hungary hasn't made sufficient progress towards a sustainable correction of its excessive deficit and worsened the situation by making changes to central bank, data protection and judiciary. the new central bank law puts the bank's independence at risk by allowing the president to install a new deputy governor. In none of these circumstances the EU was able to enact sanctions against the member state and it seems to an onlooker that the EU is only effective until members join the club and the club is unable or unwilling to take action against the members while very keen to add new members.  

Friday, January 17, 2014

The most common trap that developmental outreach campaigns run afoul

It is "Professionalism"! let me explain.

Development Organisations, such as INGOs and UN branches as well as government aid agencies, focus the efforts of public relation on producing what they have termed success stories. This misses the simple notion that you ought to build bridges of truthfulness and sincerity. That dreaded term, the public relation, is quite often a way to allocate resources for efforts that responds to expectations while the real object of outreach is to build trustful relation with target audience based on honesty. I am not arguing that we should set out to achieving objective honesty. far from it I believe that is not achievable in development work without the accountability that can only be assumed by democratic national government. I am arguing for intentional honesty, the aim of which is to bridge the divide between beneficiary expectation and development effort. There is overwhelming evidence that shows people are more likely to engage in efforts in the community when the effort speaks to them and when it faces similar obstacles and problems as they do.

We have all heard so many times that we have to approach this issue formally and in a professional manner. This disguise conceals lack of information and understanding but portrays someone who sounds knowledgeable. The most important element of “Public Relation” in my view is for media professionals to understand the issue first before setting out on a media campaign. The notion to summon a professional self is misguided and undermines the most efficient mechanism they have at their disposal which is relating the issue to their own experience and life. We understand the world through personal experience and no pseudoscientific media campaign comes close enough to a good substitute. I often wonder if professionals approach all issues in this manner. Can you imagine these people going home and talking with their children “children tonight for dinner and entertainment we are having a workshop, where we intend to reinforce our family values, create an environment where our sisters feel safe. The way we are going to do is by drawing. Lets draw pictures of how we see our family. What’s that Ivan, do you want some milk, that is great, go ahead and draw some milk. As a matter of fact lets all draw a supper for us. Then we sit and think about how we would eat it. Did you all like your supper?”

Much of the work about media outreach in the development context is generated by expatriates who work and live in far and wild places for a year or two where they live in a bubble inside which they enjoy amenities not available to locals. This means they don’t get to have the authentic experience of life but yet they are considered experts by fiat of just in the geographical location. expatriate professional does not understand the underpinnings and their experience is mostly literal. Much like my experience the other day in the pub. I ordered a beer and the waitress said “do you want anything else, love” and I said “oh! we're doing that, you look exquisite and nice but I am married” she looked stunned and had no idea what I was talking about, you can't even order a beer if you take people literally. I later found out that love in British doesn’t mean what I thought it meant. It’s a way of insulting people who are not doing as good as they think they are. I learned this after I picked tennis for awhile, if its 30 love then it’s not good.

Development agencies are like corporations from the  80s they have not benefited at all from the astonishing headways in the field of psychology that explains human behaviour and creativity. A more effective way of engaging the populous through media effort is by understanding how local staff relate to the organisation and how the beneficiaries value development issues. With the invent of digital media and recent advances in social media and telephony this is easier than ever before. 

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Against the pedant retailer of good

*Bad is better than good* not because of it's nature but because it still has a right to be good. 
Bad has parts of or more integrity, Good often arrives through the Evil Avenue but bad is always at his own expense. 
"what is wrong for one is bad for another," exhorted the degenerate. Easy. It's just for laughs. One should not be too much in the right if one wishes to have the laughers on one's own side; a grain of wrong pertains even to good taste.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Is the far right in Europe a matter of concern?

The European response to the financial crisis has produced a conglomerate of far right parties across Europe that makes the Tea Party look like a benign movement. The far right has wielded great power over European society and is on the way to rise, the example of which is the far-right Front National victory in the local by-elections in the town of Brignoles in southern France. The European Parliamentary elections is set to take place in May 2014 and you don't have to be a genius to expect a big boost for the right-wing populism.

The far right parties such as the FPÖ in Austria, UKIP in the UK, Golden Dome in Greece, FN in France and also to a certain extent 'Alternative für Deutschland' can reach behind their traditional base of disenfranchised white groups into traditionally labour and conservative working and middle class. The reason is that they have become more flexible, overcome a certain cultural guilelessness, and is making use of modern media and methods. While parties in the centre lack clear ideology and appeal to the general public.

The implementation of far right programmes in any Euro zone country will bring about a collapse in the value of the currency, a huge increase in the debt burden and higher import prices. At the same time stopping immigration would destroy numerous industries and services. In order to be effective, both policies presuppose sealing off borders, which would immediately lead to a higher rate of departures, an end to exports, a rise in the cost of living and an explosion in unemployment levels. The repercussion from the economic shock will push these countries toward further national socialism and undermine democracy.

There are two things that can change the far right momentum, the first is the political centre through heroic leadership should bring daring reforms that would cut the budget deficit, stimulate the economy and over the long term cut the national debt to restore market confidence in the financial management of the state. None of this is happening and on the contrary a less responsible fiscal policy under the auspices of national socialism is implement in Europe, link. The second point is directly linked to the first, the political centre can only hash out the lethargy of the far right in a thoroughgoing debate if they do not resort to the strategies common to them. They must forswear deals with the far right, or trying to outbid it with populist gestures. This would merely legitimise the far right. They must be honest about the challenges facing Europe, and the need to embrace globalisation. Their failure to do so is one of the reasons there is so little faith in their leadership.

The ailing of Europe is the policy of accommodation, a perennial reliance solely on innate moderation. There is no virtue in moderation, virtue is in robustness of ideas. The mainstream parties in order to maintain the status quo through moderation has maintained an unsustainable welfare state, a dogmatic idea of European Union, dysfunctional immigration policy and unwillingness to bring radical changes to the declining institutions of the state. Unless they bring key changes in these areas the far right will not be stopped. 

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Mother Language

I want to say schiffahrtselektrizit which is German for seclusion because of language and depressed as a result is Rechtsschutzve, or it should be. I find it ironic that English is a more effective language of communication with my barber who is from Iran (structurally the same mother language). lack of literacy and connections have resulted in fragmentation of Farsi to the extent  that dialects have become so distinct that even regions within the same national border has features that are unique. The Dari I speak is only a practical spoken language with a small group of population, written language too is hermetic and insular. I just did a research and found out that the total number of internet pages and the total number of commercial content (hardcopies of instruction, guide, manual …) in Persian, *a* language of 120 million people, is fewer than Estonian, *the* language of less than 2 million people. It’s reclusive and lonely if your language is Dari and Pashto; when you think about it like that you come to realise the value of mother language and its importance for nurturing confidence and purpose

Monday, October 14, 2013


A young American Scientologist walked up to me on the street, in an attempt to sell me some religion he started “god is gracious” to which I promptly responded “I have seen decapitation of children as young as 14 for pick pocketing in the name of God to teach others by example”. He said they maintain a misguided interpretation of God. Surely we don't reason the same about everything else. We don't say pedophilia is misjudged child affection on the part of an adult. hang on, the church almost says that. We don't reason a shooting rampage is an abuse of the right to bear assault rifles. Wait isn't that how its argued in your country.

Monday, September 30, 2013

I will fix you up real good

I have one day a month that I dread the most and it is the day I receive instructions from a random member of the public or acquaintance. I have done the maths and it comes to an average of 12 per annum which statistically makes it once a month. Here are a few starting points for the instructions: What does the boy want? You can’t  put your chair here. You might want to do this or that? You should not do this or that? What do you mean it is not my business?

Why is the British so ready to instruct? Don’t take it personally, it’s not about you. if you listen carefully you will hear the inside voice which actually says: I feel powerless -  I have little control over my life -  I feel clinically depressed - I am tired of frozen pizza, cheap bear and bad weather.  It is this inside voice if you listen to that explains for the most part the popularity of football and its benign hooliganism as well as the pubs and male aggression.

Complaining is the national hobby. there is a pernicious relation with mutual impact between individual discourse on collective and nationally formed identity on individual. The media daily complaints about how nobody is fixing the climate or how disgusting it is that some dude spent £36k on alcohol in a private party. The individual submersed in this discourse mimics them and go around looking for it in the neighbourhood.  

It is not a big deal and not particular to Britons, people around the world love to complain and more those destitute. There is one thing that makes this in particular and it’s the lack of humility. I blame pop culture, comfortable life, alcohol and television, in that particular order. It is not so much complaining that you should watch out for but arrogance mixed with it, which is really obtrusiveness.

This is the fallout of national socialism in a post industrial society. People want the state to fix things for them consequently the state takes control away from them which in turn frustrate them. Most issues now delegated to the state has traditionally been the domain of individual responsibility, such as looking after the neighbourhood, personal health and family welfare. One has to be careful not to over emphasize the role of the state, after all in democratic Britain there are different forces and counterbalances that will correct a misguided direction of the state.

Obtrusiveness is also the concomitant of a  great British character, eccentricity. The English admire counter cultures, desire quirky approaches, accept the strange, cheer for the underdog and defy the mainstream. It is exactly these characters that give rise to some great British qualities such as tolerance. eccentricity brings you the surrealist, odd, unpretentious and quirky comedy of Milton Jones, Phil Jupiter, Miranda, Alan Davies and the one man institution of Stephen Fry. Ironically eccentricity is self repellent, it alters the mainstream and in the process creates idiosyncrasy. Creating ulterior motives that is revenging on common sense.   This is not so funny and has brought to you rude heckling particular to the English and self-loathing. 

The good news - you need one - 29 days 23 hours and 30 minutes is filled with the joy of dealing with intelligent and pleasant Britons. You just have to brace yourself for that 30 minutes.  

Friday, September 27, 2013

BBC is sleep walking into Political Bias

 An article published on 13 of September 2013 defines the upcoming Afghan election in regard to the politics and candidates relation to Ahmad Shah Masood, the slain commander of Mujahidin group under Northern Alliance umbrella. The article concludes that any delay to the election by some is seen as catastrophic.  “Masood was a proponent of fair election” the author adds “but some would argue he was not given the opportunity to organise an election”

In this article a key political process is defined through Masood’s perspective which is appropriate for Masood Heritage Foundation but not BBC. Although Masood’s legacy overshadows Afghan politics; influence of military leaders or of political leader for that matter remains a subject of perspective, even more so when we are talking about legacies. Some might see one of other hundred figures as influential, some might only view those alive as influential. BBC should not be using this major political event to provide a platform for coverage of Masood’s legacy. The article goes further by arguing that Masood was a proponent of election. This is inaccurate, Masood did not organise an election when he was practically running what resembled the national government neither his military wing established a national government with functioning institutions that can lay down a roadmap to election. It is not helpful to talk about a major military leader in terms of what he aspired to do instead of what he actually did; it would be unjust to those who suffered in the turmoil of Mujahidin military ambitions, to which Masood was a big part. It is indecent to dismiss civilian suffering by implying that it was delusions on their part and what actually happened was high class political discourse. I agree that BBC might want to create content about Masood’s legacy but it has to be balanced and accurate. It is inaccurate and unfair to set Masood’s legacy as the standard for election and interlink the two in an article.  

A bias article reinstates the concern of a particular group consistently and throughout without a counter opinion; little attention is paid to attribution of controversial facts. Using that definition this article is bias because it puts forth consistently and throughout the arguments currently made by the successor of Northern Alliance. Given that the author of the article is a staff member of the BBC one would expect that the article is as balanced as possible given the time allotted to story preparation and the space available, and to seek reliable sources. Common sense also commands to presume that such articles are being independently fact-checked by another employee of BBC. This only points out to the widespread domination of BBC Persian editorial by a political fiction, spreading opinions and interests of a particular political and social stream.  I have based this argument primarily on the content of the mentioned article, two other evidence I offer in support of the claim is the consistency and spread of such articles across the board. The method for proofing the former is a look at chronological run of bias articles and the later by evaluating authoring for each articles.

A second article that was published only a month before under the title of ‘lessons of Arab “autumn” for Afghanistan’, also outlines the views of the political calculus of what used to be Northern Alliance that identify themselves as former Mujhidin. The article argues that the murders committed by the military rulers of Egypt should be seen as atrocities of secular, while the Muslim Brotherhood is the victim. The author draws a clear parallel line between Mujahidin and their current political structure with that of Egypt’s Muslim brotherhood. Hence, the argument that political Islam has been incapable of sound governance and has committed atrocities while in power or seeking power does not hold ground. This is while Mujahidin fictions are responsible for most of the atrocities of the 90s as well as some that took place in the 80s which eventually resulted in the rise of Taliban. This article uses false logic by creating parallels between events that have different political roots, causes and results. The author attempts to deprecate the atrocities that various fiction of what he calls Mujahidin has committed by belittling their role in the crimes. The author attempts to downplay the responsibility Mujahidin should be taking for the crimes they had committed by overplaying the resemblance between Egypt and Afghanistan creating an imaginary group secular by its nature and somehow responsible for the crimes in Afghanistan.

Another variable I use to determine institutional bias in BBC is by identifying the authors of these articles. The premise is that institutional bias can be established if such articles are throughout and doctored by different authors. Link three below is another article I consider unduly favourable to Masood, which is by another author who is again a member of BBC Persian team. 

For plurality to be implemented an entity, in this case a nation, that represents diversity should exist. It might be the case that sectarian and ethnic divisions in Afghanistan runs so deep that the creation of balanced information based on Afghanistan wide perspective is unrealistic and unappealing. As a result any broadcaster catering to a linguistic group inclines towards the prevailing politics of that lingo-ethnic group. This certainly holds true if you look at BBC Pashto which some claim is similarly bias toward a Pan-Pashton politics. Many media outlets are ideologically motivated and inclined to support groups and parties that are politically or otherwise aligned with them. BBC Persian is intended to cater to Afghanistan wide audience and pursuing partisan politics is contrary to the policy and a violation of its mission. Should BBC decide to move toward catering to ethnic groups and semi-political fictions then that should be a conscious choice, not sleeping walking into it.

Here is the URL for this article

another article published under the title of lessons of Arab “autumn” for Afghanistan is at

link number three

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Conspiracy Theory is explaining that Cameron has got Syria wrong

Since Cameron’s reaction to the alleged chemical attack in Syria the air is filled with eclectic conspiracy theories. As ridiculous some conspiracy theories sounds it is easy to see that the justification provided by the administration for an imminent military intervention is disingenuous. Government line of reasoning is leading many to sinister theories to explain alternative motives for the probable Military action.

I agree that conspiracy theories are generally manifestation of bigotry or attempted rationalisation of hidden resentments but they point out two critical ends about the political measure in question. But sound reasoning is an evolutionary process and it comes about through a series of trail and errors where less rigours theories are abandoned in favour of those that coincide with the reality. Conspiracy theories are like microbial cultures on political medium where crude theories come to existence that is useless on its own but collectively essential for the evolution of social discourse. Second, the intensity of conspiracy theories is an indication of public response to the political discourse. The greater the number of conspiracy theories the stronger indication that the public cannot understand the basis of political decision; another way to look at it is a socially generated indicator of the honesty of political motives.  

Cameron is itching to launch a strike because he believes that Assad regime has used chemical weapons against civilians. Let’s see what is wrong with this reason for staging a war against a sovereign nation.
First, it’s illegal and immoral to stage wars against a sovereign nation without the endorsement of the United Nations, even if it is intended to save innocent life. Governments should work through a legal framework and abide by due processes.
Second, the administration should warrant and corroborate behind any reasonable doubt that the chemical weapons really were used by Syrian government. It should be established what kind of chemical weapon was used and which belligerent party has used it. The Syrian war has turned into a proxy war where Iran and Russia have provided military, economic and diplomatic support to the regime while on the other hand Westerners, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Wahabi groups and Sunni Jihdists are assisting various sections of the opposition. It is feasible that the Saudis provided the ingredients that can be used to make the dirty bomb, or some sprinter Islamist group from Libyan brought it with them. Such possibilities are numerous and not dismissible and their motive would have been to provoke international intervention.
Third, after over a decade of military campaign in Afghanistan and Iraq our armed forces should know that the situation on the ground is extremely complicated and it is really difficult  to mitigate mistakes. NATO is much better positioned than fledgling Syrian government to decipher rules of engagement to minimise such mistakes. Yet thousands of innocent civilians have been killed in NATO strikes across Afghanistan, some in bizarre incidents, for example hundreds of people have died when NATO war planes targeted wedding ceremonies mistakenly for insurgent gathering. How ridiculous is that?  It may well have been some part of the Syrian military that let loose some rocket that they may or may not knew contained WMD and they may or may not know the consequences and impact of the weapon. That does not necessarily mean Assad and his circle of regime sanction the operation. An equivalent would be that some foreign nation claim to hold Cameron accountable for the death of dozens of women and children in a wedding party in Afghanistan and launch a strike against Britain. 
Fourth, Britain has no legal commitment to intervene even if the Syrian regime used chemical weapons. It might be the right thing to do but that is not why the government should take action. The government is sanctioned to act within a legal framework not some moral imperative. We cannot trust the judgement of politician to lead us into wars but the constitutional commitments.
Fifth, why would Assad government use chemical weapon at a point when its armed forces was turning the tide. Surely it would had gain more tactical advantage if it was used when the rebels had the upper hand. This is even more unlikely when the regime knew it would change the stance of international community.
Sixth, if Assad Regime indeed used chemical weapons, wouldn’t a military action provoke him further to use chemical weapons in retaliation to the attack against civilians and possibly Israel and Turkey?
Seventh, we stood by while over 100,000 civilians were killed by conventional weapons but Cameron chooses to intervene after a single and appalling attack that killed 1300, according to rebel sources. Surely death by explosives is agonising too.

For all these reasons it is unlikely to understand why Mr. Cameron would insist on a military intervention.
What is really important is not a surgical strike but the pursuit of two strategic objectives.

The first and most pressing is taking all measures to stop the bloodshed in Syria, it would further disintegrate the fabric of Syrian society and threaten our interests. Overthrowing Assad is not in the interest of peace, it might achieve Cameron Administration’s short-sighted political objective.  The end of Assad regime might exacerbate the situation by creating a power vacuum where extremist will further nurture. This we have seen in Egypt, Libya, Iraq and Afghanistan.  Assad is not the legitimate president of Syria but a brute whom has desolated the Syrian society for a decade and accumulated a personal wealth of 1.5 billion dollars in Hong Kong and Russia. The reason he is in power is because the institutional system in place unlike in Britain is incapable of appointing a legitimate leader and if Assad is dismissed another thug will come forth and take his position. This we will call the best case scenario. The worst case scenario and the most likely would be the creation of a mosaic of factions and characters, which is already taking place, which would ravage the country in their struggle for power.

The second would be to learn from this horrific incident and recognise that the truth is important. We should find out the truth about the chemical attack but this too is unlikely. The only institution currently available for the task is nation states but there is an obvious conflict of interest.  There is no method to ensure that government will not temper evidence in pursuit of their own agenda. This shouldn’t be surprising when we know that the government is willing to transgress into our private space and then lie to us. They would not blink if they were to lie to some foreign people especially when there is no constitutional safe guard to hold them accountable. What we need in this volatile world is independent institutions to investigate such crimes. This will not happen by a decree or funding to some NGO but through collaboration of international community where they show good faith and political will.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

isn't this braindrain? 
wouldn't it be in the interest of Afghanistan to divert the over £100 million funding for opportunities to reeducated these brilliant young lads in technical or professional skills that would be required in post foreign support Afghanistan. or is it the case that the British government considers the creation of an economy that would need and supported advanced skills labour inconceivable and instead opts to do a service to these talented young group, that are only few in Afghanistan, by offering them asylum. This seems very plausible and i think for once the politician got it right. they would end up in the west anyway, there is not much else for the interpreters to do in Afghanistan. this is offering them a dignified path.